Monday, March 31, 2014
I’ve been on a serious salad kick on my blog these past few weeks. Here’s a round-up of recipes and why it’s time to “Spring into Salad!” in case you’re behind in reading or new to Healthy Hedonism. Salad is a pillar of my diet, and I write about it a lot. That said, it’s time to take a break from all that today with a post celebrating the joys of maple syrup.
I’ll bet I’m not the only one who thinks more about fall than spring when it comes to maple syrup. Perhaps that’s because maple blends so well with warm autumn favorites like cinnamon and cloves, apples and squash. Even so, ’tis spring that’s maple syrup season. It started late this year in Canada due to cold weather but the season is now in full swing here in New England.
In fact, it’s the country with the Maple Leaf on its flag—Canada—that produces more than 85% of the world’s maple syrup. Canadians take their “liquid gold” very seriously, and I was brought into the maple-loving club at an early age. (I grew up in New York but was born in Montréal.) I can remember visiting maple farms in the Canadian countryside as a little girl and seeing the trees slowly drip, drip, drip the amber sap into large vats then visiting the old wooden sugar shacks to watch it boil into thick maple syrup. You can bet we always brought some home with us straight from the farm, just as I do today from my own local markets.
Maple sugar candy was a special treat—my sister adores it—and my mom enjoys maple cream cookies. I don’t eat these foods much anymore but do love my maple syrup-drenched pancakes and French toast once in a while. And churning up a batch of luscious maple walnut ice cream is an annual tradition. (It’s my husband’s favorite.)
On the savory side, maple syrup also makes a ravishing salad dressing when combined with Dijon mustard. Learn how to whisk it up in five minutes in this cooking video, then use it on salads like kale and Brussels sprouts with Marcona almonds (left) or butternut squash, rosemary onion, and dried cranberries.
Oops, I said I was taking a break from salads.
Back to desserts.
I made maple buttercream for the first time a few years back when baking pumpkin whoopie pies. Common centers for these scrumptious cakes usually include marshmallow fluff, cream cheese icing, and the like. I ventured from tradition and thought maple buttercream would make the perfect filling.
Boy, was I right.
The original post on how I learned to love whoopie is here. Yet as I was just working on this recipe for my book and updating the photos on my blog, here’s a little preview to make your mouth water.
Mouthwatering Maple Buttercream
- 3 large egg yolks
- 1 cup pure maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon pure maple extract
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¾ cup unsalted butter, cold, diced
Beat the egg yolks on high until light and fluffy, around 5 minutes. Meanwhile, heat maple syrup on medium high heat to about 200 degrees F, about 6 minutes. The syrup will boil down and thicken as it cooks; do not let it burn. Slowly and carefully stream the hot syrup down the side of the bowl into the yolks while continuing to whip the eggs on medium high until the syrup is incorporated, 2 minutes. Beat in the maple and vanilla extracts. Add the butter a couple of pieces at a time and beat on high until the mixture looks creamy and forms gentle peaks, about 5 to 8 minutes. Be patient. It takes time for the mixture to become buttercream, but it will.
And do not even think about using anything but pure maple syrup in this recipe.
I can not say enough about this buttercream, which is mind-blowingly good when sandwiched between two pumpkin whoopie pies. I’ve also served it on chocolate cupcakes with similar effects
and eaten it by spoonfuls directly out of the bowl.
Buttercream is not an everyday food, of course. But it is certainly part of Cooking & Eating the P.K. Way, a food-loving lifestyle based on a plant-based diet that also includes fabulously rich comfort foods every now and again. I hope you love this buttercream as much as I (though do make sure to keep it filed firmly under “moderation”).
Also, do not make buttercream when you are alone in the house.