Archive for the ‘Maple syrup’ Category

After all of my travels last year throughout the world, I must say I was interested to find in Canada some of the basis of many meals and cooking techniques I also found in other places. I also grew more aware of what foods are available in Canada, and what exactly Canadian food is. If this is not a Canadian recipe, then I do not know what is!

As I cooked the first batch of dried blueberry pancakes smothered in maple syrup for my village in The Gambia, I realized I’d shared a true Canadian flavour with my hosts. Maple syrup.

This recipe draws on inspiration from the Joy of Cooking’s classic sponge cake recipe. I love the recipe as it is delicious while also being totally dairy-free and also oil-free, which makes it a crowd pleaser as long as no one has trouble with gluten or wheat.

I invented the icing, inspired by a rich but complementary cream cheese base, and made unique with pecan butter and maple extract.

I hope you like these as much as Catherine and all my friends did – they sure disappeared fast! It was such a pleasure to finally bake something for Catherine as we are in the same city for just about a month! I think we should take advantage of proximity while we can.

Ingredients – 12 cupcakes

3/4 cups plus 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour, sifted
1 1/2 tsp baking powder, sifted
1/4 tsp salt

3 egg yolks (save the whites in the fridge, they will be used in a few minutes!)
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup amber (or any other you have) maple syrup
1/4 cup boiling water
1 tsp maple extract (optional)

3 egg whites

Ingredients – maple pecan cream cheese frosting

2/3 cup pecans

1 cup cream cheese, room temperature
1/8 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup icing sugar
1 Tsp maple extract
pinch salt


Preheat oven to 350 F and line a muffin tin with cupcake liners. To make the cupcakes, sift all dry ingredients together in a small bowl. In a large bowl, beat the egg yolks for about a minute, until they begin to thicken. Gradually add in the sugar and maple syrup, and beat for a further 3 minutes on high. Add in the extract, and then beat in the boiling water.

Gradually incorporate the dry ingredients. You can do so with a beater on low or with a whisk (my preference). Using clean beaters and a chilled bowl, beat the egg whites into medium-firm peaks.

Carefully incorporate one quarter of the egg whites into the batter with a rubber spatula, and then add the remainder when it is light and airy. Do not over-mix.

Spoon the mixture into the cupcake liners, filling them to 3/4. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes depending on your oven, until a toothpick poked into the middle of the cupcake comes out clean.

To make the pecan cream cheese maple icing, start with making the pecan butter. If you have a food processor or blender, place the nuts inside and allow them to be processed until they become coarse pecan butter. Add in the cream cheese and butter, and continue to mix until everything is smooth. Add in the sugar and extract, and continue to pulse.

If you do not have a food processor, just buy some pecan butter and mix it in with the other ingredients in a bowl using a fork and then a wooden spoon once it is broken up.

If the icing is too runny, add a bit of icing sugar, or refrigerate! You can garnish the iced cupcakes with pecan halves if you like!


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For me, maple syrup production really symbolizes the arrival of spring. The sap begins to run, and the trees start to come back to life after their wintery rest.

When I was little, every spring my mother, brother, and I would walk over to the near-by conservation area with little tiny cups from my dinette (mini kitchen set for my dolls). We’d stand on tip-toes, lift the lid off the sap collection pails, dip our cups into the sap, and drink. It was such a treat, although I’m not sure how the conservation authority felt about it. I wish I had photos to share with you here, but alas, my childhood albums are far away at my mother’s house.

On a recent walk in the ravine beside my house, I was delighted to find evidence of Not Far From the Tree’s Syrup In the City program. There were tapped sugar maples and large sap collection jugs. What a great idea to begin to tap trees in an urban setting. Now if only every person with a sugar-maple tapped it or let Not Far From the Tree do it, I’m quite certain a lot of maple syrup could be produced.

I guess the next best thing I can do is share a lovely recipe that uses maple syrup – maple walnut ice cream – which I made as part of the Canadian meal with our friend from Denmark who wanted to taste “Canadian Food.”  Home-made ice cream is such a treat, and this one is especially delicious. Once again, this recipe was adapted from a recipe in Canadian Living.

Ingredients – 8 servings

-1 cup roasted walnuts, coarsely chopped (at 300F for 20 minutes)
-1 1/4 cups maple syrup
-2 cups milk (I use 2%)
-1 cup 35% whipping cream
-5 large egg yolks
-1 tsp vanilla extract


Roast the walnuts on a baking sheet, and let cool.  In a saucepan (preferably with a heavy bottom and tall walls), bring the maple syrup to a gentle boil and boil down for about 6-7 minutes, until it is reduced to about 2/3 cups volume.  Be careful and turn down the heat if the bubbles rise fast.

Remove from heat and let cool for about 5 minutes while you separate the egg yolks into a bowl.  Reserve the egg whites in a mason jar in the freezer, a trick I learned from a lovely professor at university.  Soon I will post a recipe to use those with, or you could make Mocha Chip Meringue Cake.

Quickly stir the cream and milk into the maple syrup.  Return this to medium-low heat, until nearly boiling (small bubbles should form at edges of pan).  Remove from heat.

Whisk the egg yolks together well, and then slowly with vigorous whisking incorporate the yolks into the syrup-cream mixture.  Return the pan to medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until it thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon.  This should take between 6-10 minutes.

Stir in the vanilla extract.  Now place a sieve over a large enough bowl to hold the mixture, and pass the cream mixture through the sieve to remove any unwanted stringy and grainy bits.  Discard what’s left of solids after you’ve helped all the liquid through the sieve with the back of a spoon.

Refrigerate at least 2 hours, until fully cold.  I like to make that mixture the night before.

Once it has rested and cooled off, put ice cream mix into your prepared ice-cream machine (if you do not have one, place it in a cake dish in the freezer and stir it occasionally until 1/2 frozen), and follow the ice-cream maker’s instructions.  Add the chopped nuts after the ice-cream has mostly frozen (just before putting the ice cream into the freezer if you have a machine, and 1/2 way into the freezing process if you are using a cake pan).  Mix well, and freeze the ice cream in an airtight container.

You’ll need to freeze the ice cream at least 3-4 hours before serving if you want it to be firm.

I guarantee you’ll wish your ice-cream maker is larger than it is!


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While Sitelle is certainly an early bird, I am one to enjoy delicious breakfast food at anytime of the day!  Steaming pancakes fresh off the griddle with whipping cream and blackberries is one of my favourites – and it tastes delicious any time of day (and I confess, this was supper).  I am normally an oatmeal pancake snob, refusing to eat the ordinary pancake.  But as per usual, the Joy of Cooking offered a simple and delicious recipe. You can tell these beauties were hot, with the whipping cream melting into the pancakes, and fresh fruit simply elevating the pancakes to the next level.  Sweetened with Canadian maple syrup (recently declared a superfood of the same order as antioxidant filled berries, red wine, and flax seeds) these pancakes disappeared by the plate!


Pancakes with Blackberries and Whipping Cream

(makes 16 pancakes)

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

3 tablespoons sugar

1 3/4 tablespoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups milk

3 tablespoons butter, melted

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract, divided

1/2 cup whipping cream


Maple syrup

Extra butter

Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.  In a separate bowl, beat together the milk, eggs, butter, and 1/2 teaspoon of the vanilla.  Quickly mix the wet ingredients into the dry, being careful not to overmix and ignoring lumps. Grease a hot griddle with butter.  Cook about 1/4 cup of the pancake mixture for 2-3 minutes a side, until golden.

In a separate bowl, use electric beaters to beat the whipping cream and remaining vanilla to soft peaks.  Serve the pancakes straight off the griddle with whipping cream, blackberries, and maple syrup!

– Catherine

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