Enjoy fresh maple syrup, a spring treat

This natural sweetener can be used in making a variety of baked goods and savory meals

    It’s the time of year to celebrate the sap that comes from maple trees and the syrup made from the sap.
    Not only are evaporators going great guns to turn sap from Wisconsin’s state tree into syrup, March is Maple Syrup Month.
    Maple trees require freezing nights and warm days for the sap to flow, and it takes 30 to 40 gallons of sap to produce one gallon of syrup.
    The syrup is a natural sweetener that’s delicious over pancakes, waffles, hot cereals and French toast, as well as ice cream and yogurt.
    Blend a small amount of maple syrup with marshmallow cream for a sundae sauce or warm maple syrup with rum to create a sauce for ice cream.
    Maple syrup makes a tasty glaze for baked hams and other meats, and it can be mixed with cream cheese to create a delicious fruit dip.
    Add flavor to baked squash by filling it with maple syrup and butter before baking. Glaze carrots with maple syrup, butter and a pinch of dry mustard.
    If you want to use syrup in baking, substitute 3/4 cup to 1-1/2 cups of syrup for every cup of sugar, add 1/4 teaspoon baking soda for each cup of syrup used and reduce the liquid in the recipe by 3 tablespoons for each cup of syrup used. You should also reduce the baking temperature by 25 degrees to avoid burning the syrup.
    Since pure maple syrup will not freeze, the freezer is a good place to store it almost indefinitely. Bring the syrup to room temperature or warm it before serving.
    Following are maple syrup recipes from myrecipes.com.



Orange Maple Balsamic Salmon

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1-pound salmon fillet
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon orange zest
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1 teaspoon fresh minced ginger
1 garlic clove, minced

    Place salmon fillet in a shallow dish. Drizzle two tablespoons olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt evenly over salmon. Set aside.
    Whisk together vinegar, maple syrup, orange zest, orange juice, ginger, garlic and remaining salt in a small bowl. Pour half the vinegar mixture over the salmon and let stand for 15 minutes. Place remaining vinegar mixture in a small saucepan over low heat and simmer five minutes, until thickened slightly.
    Coat a rimmed baking sheet with remaining olive oil and transfer fish to pan. Broil eight minutes, until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. Drizzle reduced sauce over salmon and serve immediately.


All American Granola

3 cups uncooked old-fashioned rolled oats
1-1/2 cups sliced almonds
1/2 cup coarsely chopped dried cherries
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup pure maple syrup

    Combine oats, almonds, dried cherries, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl. Drizzle syrup over mixture, stirring to coat completely.
    Spread mixture on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake in a 300-degree oven for 35 minutes, until golden and crisp, stirring every 10 minutes.
    Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely in pan.
    Store in an airtight container for as long as one week.



Fresh Berries With Maple Cream

3/4 cup fat-free sour cream
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 cup fresh blueberries
1-1/2 cups fresh raspberries

    Combine sour cream and maple syrup in a small bowl and stir with a whisk.
    Combine with berries, and spoon into dessert dishes. Pour maple cream over berries.


Apple Maple Turnovers

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, cut into 1/2-inch dice
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
1 tablespoon milk

    Melt butter over medium-high heat in a medium skillet. Add apples and cook about five minutes, stirring occasionally, until browned and beginning to soften. Stir in two tablespoons sugar and maple syrup. Cook one to two minutes, stirring, until apples are soft but not falling apart and liquid is syrupy. Transfer to a bowl and let cool completely.
    Unroll pastry and cut into four squares.
    Place one piece of pastry in front of you so that a point faces you. Spoon apple mixture over half the square, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Fold over to enclose filling, forming a triangle. Press edges with a fork to seal.
    Repeat with remaining pastry pieces and apples.
    Place triangles on a baking sheet that’s lined with parchments paper, brush with milk, sprinkle with remaining sugar and bake in a 400-degree oven 20 to 22 minutes, until puffed and golden.
    Let stand for five minutes. Serve warm.



Maple Bacon and Walnut VooDoo Fudge

1 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1 7 ounce jar marshmallow fluff
1 5 ounce can evaporated milk
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 12-ounce bag white chocolate chips
1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
1 pound lean bacon
1 teaspoon maple extract

    Line an eight-inch square baking pan with foil, leaving at least a one-inch overhang on all sides. Coat with cooking spray.
    Fry bacon until crispy, then drain on paper towels. When cool, break into small pieces, throwing away any fatty pieces.
    Combine brown sugar, marshmallow fluff, evaporated milk, butter and salt in a heavy saucepan. Cook over medium heat, whisking often, until it comes to a boil. Let boil five minutes, stirring constantly to prevent scorching
    Remove pan from heat and stir in white chocolate chips until fully melted and mixture is smooth. Stir in walnuts, bacon and maple extract. Quickly pour into baking pan and smooth top. Refrigerate about two hours, uncovered, until firm.
    Using foil handles, lift fudge from pan and place on cutting board. Remove foil. Cut fudge into pieces, wiping off knife between cuts.
    Serve immediately or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Place waxed paper between layers.
    Fudge can be stored for as long as one week.



Planked Salmon With Maple Mustard Glaze

2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon whole-grain Dijon mustard
1 1-1/2-pound center-cut salmon fillet
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

    Soak a 15-by-4-by-1/4-inch cedar grilling plank in water one hour, then drain.
    Combine syrup and mustard.Stir well and divide between two small bowls.
    Place plank on grill rack over medium heat and grill 10 minutes, until lightly charred. Turn plank over and place fish, skin side down, on charred side. Sprinkle fish with salt and pepper and brush with half the syrup mixture.
    Cover and grill 35 minutes, until desired degree of doneness. Remove from grill, spread remaining syrup mixture over fish. Cut fillet into four equal portions and serve.


Maple Pecan Sweet Potatoes

2 large sweet potatoes, peeled
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons finely chopped pecans
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon butter, cut into small pieces

    Cut sweet potatoes in half lengthwise, then cut each half crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces. Place potato in a large, heavy-duty zip-top plastic bag. Sprinkle with salt and drizzle with oil. Seal bag and toss to coat. Place potato on a foil-lined baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake in a 450-degree oven for 35 minutes, until browned.
    Place pecans, brown sugar, maple syrup and butter in a serving bowl. Add potato, then toss gently until coated. Serve immediately.


Maple Walnut Banana Bread

1 cup brown rice flour
1/4 cup white rice flour
1/4 cup sweet white sorghum flour
1-1/2 teaspoons xanthan gum
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup mashed ripe banana
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup plain fat-free yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts

    Weigh or lightly spoon flours into dry measuring cups and level with a knife. Combine flours, xanthan gum, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl and stir with a whisk.
    Place banana, sugar, maple syrup, butter, yogurt, vanilla and eggs in a medium bowl. Beat with a mixer at medium speed until blended. Gradually add flour mixture, beating at low speed until smooth.
    Pour batter into a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle with walnuts. Bake in a 350-degree oven for one hour, until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.
    Cool 15 minutes in pan on a wire rack, then remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack.


Bourbon Bacon Jam

1 pound bacon, chopped
3/4 cup yellow onion, chopped
3 tablespoons bourbon
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
2 tablespoons maple syrup

    Heat a heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat. Add bacon, lower heat to medium-low and cook 10 to 15 minutes, until much of the fat is rendered and the bacon starts to crisp. Remove bacon pieces from pan and set aside.
    Drain all but three tablespoons bacon fat from the pan. Add onion and sauté 10 minutes, until translucent. Add bourbon, stirring to scrape browned bits from the bottom. Stir in vinegar, brown sugar and maple syrup until well-combined and just boiling. Add reserved bacon and continue cooking until mixture is syrupy and begins to glisten.
    Remove from heat and place mixture in a food processor. Pulse mixture for 15 to 30 seconds — the more you process, the smoother the jam.
    Refrigerate in an airtight container for one week.


Sweet Potato Casserole With Crunchy Oat Topping

3 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup 2% milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 large egg, beaten
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
2/3 cup pecans, chopped
3 tablespoons almond meal
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon canola oil

    Place potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with water to one inch above potatoes. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer six minutes, until potatoes are tender. Drain.
    Return potatoes to saucepan. Add milk, one tablespoon butter and vanilla and mash to desired consistency. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon salt and egg. Spread potato mixture in the bottom of an 11-by-7-inch glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray.
    Combine remaining salt, oats, pecans, almond meal and two tablespoons syrup in a bowl. Add remaining butter and canola oil and toss to coat.
    Sprinkle oat mixture over potatoes and bake in a 375-degree oven for 18 minutes, until surface is golden. Remove pan from oven and drizzle with remaining maple syrup.


Sour Cherry Breakfast Parfait

For sauce:
1 quart sour cherries, pitted
1/2 cup sugar, or to taste
For parfait:
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 to 2 tablespoons slivered or sliced almonds, toasted

    In a saucepan, combine the cherries and sugar and stir. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook 10 to 15 minutes, uncovered, until the mixture has thickened. If the pan seems dry, add 1 to 2 tablespoons water.
    Spoon yogurt into the bottom of a small bowl or jar. Top with 1/3 cup cherry sauce. Sprinkle with almonds to serve.


Brown Butter Maple Pecan Blondes

1-1/2 cups unsalted butter
4 large eggs
1-3/4 cups sugar
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1/4 cups chopped toasted pecans

    Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium. Cook five to seven minutes, whisking constantly, until butter browns and smells nutty. Immediately pour into a bowl, then place in refrigerator about 20 minutes to cool, whisking every five minutes until thickened and creamy.
    Beat eggs and sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed for three minutes, until thickened and pale yellow.
    Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Add to egg mixture in thirds, alternating with cooled butter, beginning and ending with flour mixture and beating on low after each addition.
    Slowly beat in maple syrup, then add vanilla and beat just until combined. Fold in one cup pecans with a spoon.
    Pour batter into a greased and floured 13-by-9-inch baking pan and spread into an even layer. Sprinkle with remaining pecans.
    Bake in 350-degree oven about 35 minutes, until golden and a wooden pick inserted in middle comes out clean. Transfer pan to a wire rack until cooled completely. Cut into 24 bars.


Baked Brie With Pumpkin Maple Sauce

1 sheet store-bought puff pastry, thawed
1 8-ounce wheel Brie cheese
1 large egg
1 tablespoon water
For sauce:
4 cups cubed, peeled butternut squash
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 teaspoon grated, peeled fresh ginger
5/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 grated garlic clove
4 teaspoons roasted, unsalted pumpkin seeds

    Bring a large saucepan filled with water to a boil. Add butternut squash and cook 10 minutes, until tender. Drain.
    Place cubed, peeled butternut squash in a food processor with maple syrup, unsalted butter, grated ginger, kosher salt, pepper and grated garlic and process until smooth. Top with roasted unsalted pumpkin seed kernels.
    Lightly beat egg and water together in a small bowl with a whisk or fork.
    Dust a clean surface lightly with flour and unroll thawed puff pastry. Roll dough until about 10 inches wide on each side. Place Brie in the center of the dough. Brush Brie with a heavy coating of pumpkin maple sauce mixture. Brush the outer edges of the dough with the egg wash and bring each corner of the dough to the center of the Brie wheel to wrap.
    Place Brie-wrapped dough on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake in a 400-degree oven 20 minutes, until golden brown and crispy, brushing a coat of sauce over the Brie and topping with almond slices halfway through baking. Serve immediately.  




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