Gluten-Free Cranberry Maple Pear BarsSadly, what many people think of as maple syrup is really just a combination of sugars and sugar-syrups with flavorings and preservatives added. It’s not real maple syrup at all! Thank goodness for my first trip to Stowe, Vermont where I learned about the different varieties and many uses of pure maple syrup. Now, I always keep plenty on hand so I can make my favorite goodies like Gluten-Free Cranberry Maple Pear Bars opens in a new tab and Maple-Oat Cookies opens in a new tab.
Nothing compares with the flavor and aroma of the real maple syrup (no added colors, flavorings, sweeteners or artificial sweeteners). Pure maple syrup is available in several grades, which represent differences in flavor and color, but not quality. Several varieties are available:
Grade A–Light is delicate in flavor, perfect for elegant cookies, sweetening tea or drizzling over yogurt or ice cream.
Grade A–Medium has a wonderful maple flavor without being overpowering or strong. Try it on pancakes, waffles and French toast.
Grade A–Dark, like Grade B, is more robust in flavor. I use it for baking, cooking and roasting.
Grade B has the most robust flavor. It’s subtly earthy with a hint of caramel. I love to drizzle it over roasted sweet potatoes or winter squash, or add it to gingerbread along with or in place of molasses.
Amaranth Hot Cereal with Cherries and WalnutsThe beauty of maple syrup is in its incredible versatility, pleasing flavor and appetizing aroma. It’s great in baked goods, sauces, marinades, dressings and more. Here are some of my favorite ideas and recipes:
Drizzle over fresh fruit salad or baked apples and pears. Try Baked Apples with Maple Syrup and Granola opens in a new tab for breakfast or Maple Apple Crisp opens in a new tab for dessert.
Mix mustard with maple syrup. Baste roasted fish, chicken or pork chops. Baked Maple Chicken with Wild Rice and Bartlett Pear Pilaf opens in a new tab is wonderfully flavored with thyme, olive oil and aromatics.
Add a teaspoon of maple syrup to vinaigrette.
Make Stovetop Simmered Maple Beans opens in a new tab. Stuff into pita bread halves or spoon over baked potatoes, rice, millet or quinoa.
Brush maple syrup over an assortment of roasting vegetables like Brussels sprouts, carrots, parsnips, rutabaga, sweet potatoes or winter squash. Try Maple Roasted Fennel opens in a new tab. It’s simple and delicious!
Maple syrup adds depth of flavor to roasted nuts for a hearty winter snack. Sweet and Spicy Toasted Pecans opens in a new tab are awesome with warming spices and a dash of cayenne.
Maple syrup is a must in hot cereal like oatmeal or cream wheat or rice. Amaranth Hot Cereal with Cherries and Walnuts opens in a new tab is sweetened with maple syrup and dried cherries.
Sweeten cold cereal with maple syrup. Or make Coconut and Macadamia Granola opens in a new tab, which is sweetened with maple syrup, too. For a winter version, choose pecans in place of macadamia nuts. Add some dried cranberries for a tasty breakfast or snack.
Are you a maple syrup aficionado? Let us know your favorite recipe ideas.