I grew up with maple-flavored syrup. I think the brand we stocked in our pantry was Log Cabin, which had that New England old-timey-feel, but none of the sincerity of the real thing. At one time, I do recall having some sort of diet “maple syrup” in the house, which meant it was probably saccharine-flavored. Why do I mention this bit of personal lore? Because real maple syrup is well worth the ticket price, and until you have had the real thing, you have no flippin’ idea how good it could be.
While there is not a thing wrong with pouring real maple syrup on your pancakes and waffles, you would be cheating yourself if you stopped there. The other day I poured a bit of maple syrup into oatmeal cookie batter, and poured a tablespoon into some breakfast polenta. But as sweet and wonderful, and not to mention relatively nutritious (with a relatively high mineral content compared to sugar) maple syrup can be, it is also fairly versatile.
I was reminded of this fact when I stumbled upon Leah Koenig’s brief memory piece with recipes about maple syrup on Saveur.com. Most people think of maple syrup being utilized in sweet, not savory, dishes. And as it does sufficiently sweeten anything it touches, it also adds dimension. Koenig provides links to such recipes as maple syrup roasted tomatoes and wild rice soup with maple syrup, but Brussels sprouts and maple syrup make a winning combination, as do butternut squash, thyme and maple syrup. Maple syrup works well with various Asian cuisines, as it caramelizes and adds flavor, not just sweetness. And maple syrup works exceptionally well in cocktails, especially brandy cocktails.
What are some of your favorite applications of maple syrup? Are you a traditionalist or do you exploit its every possible use?