Sap's Rising but Maple Syrup is Year-Round Melt-in-Mouth Asset
MONTPELIER, Vt. Maple sugaring season is a favorite time for students at the New England Culinary Institute (NECI) in Montpelier, a time when this natural and flavorful ingredient is literally flowing in their back yard.
"Maple sugaring means many things to Vermonters," NECI chef instructor Bill Koucky said, "including the thawing of winter and hopes for summer. It's a time to teach our students about one of Vermont's finest delicacies."
Students visit local maple sugar makers to learn how maple sap is collected and boiled down into maple syrup, and they also study cooking with it, in the kitchens of the six restaurants the school operates around Vermont (these kitchens go through 25 gallons of maple syrup a week).
In taste and flavor class, students learn how to use the sweet ingredient in savory creations as well as sweet. Here are three of the institute's recipes adapted for the home cook.
Maple Cream Scones
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cake flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup maple sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
2 sticks unsalted butter
3 large eggs (for scone mix)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup dried currants
1 large egg (for egg wash)
1/2 cup maple syrup
Preheat oven to 325 F.
Sift and mix flours, salt, sugar and baking powder in one bowl.
Cut the butter into the dry ingredients, using a pastry cutter until the mixture resembles crumbs.
Beat together 3 eggs and the cream, just until the two ingredients are incorporated. Add the eggs and cream to the dry ingredients. Mix with hands until the dough comes together.
Add currants and mix until the currants are incorporated; do not overmix.
Flour a workspace and roll out the dough to 1 inch thick.
Use a 2 1/2- to 3-inch maple leaf cutter or standard biscuit cutter to cut out scones and place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Break 1 egg into a bowl and add a drop or two of water; mix thoroughly and brush on tops of scones. Bake scones for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden.
After scones have cooled, drizzle with maple syrup and serve.
Glaze variation: Mix together 1 cup confectioner's sugar, 2 teaspoons maple syrup and 3 tablespoons milk until smooth. Add more milk if the mixture is too thick or more confectioner's sugar if too thin. Drizzle this glaze on tops of scones.
Makes 8 to 12 scones.
Maple Roasted Root Vegetables
2 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes (see note)
2 1/2 pounds parsnips
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, preferably canola oil
1 tablespoons ground cumin
1 tablespoons ground star anise
1/4 cup maple syrup
Salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 450 F. Coat a large sheet pan with nonstick cooking spray.
Wash and peel sweet potatoes and parsnips. Cut into 1 1/4-inch chunks. Place parsnips and sweet potatoes in two separate large bowls.
Mix oil, cumin, anise and maple syrup together in a small bowl.
Pour the maple mixture equally over the vegetables. Toss the vegetables thoroughly to coat. Sprinkle the vegetables with salt and pepper.
Arrange sweet potatoes in the sheet pan, bake for 15 minutes.
Add the parsnips to the pan, bake for 15 more minutes or until vegetables are tender and lightly caramelized.
Makes 6 to 8 servings, as a side dish.
Note: You may substitute carrots or small onions for some of the sweet potatoes and parsnips, as desired.
3 tablespoons powdered gelatin
1/4 cup cold water
3 cups cream
10 egg whites
6 egg yolks
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 pint maple syrup
1/4 cup chopped pecans
Stir the gelatin powder into 1/4 cup cold water in a small bowl. Let gelatin powder stand for 10 minutes until it blooms (absorbs all the water).
Whip the cream to soft peaks in a separate bowl.
Whip the egg whites to medium peaks in a separate bowl.
Whip the yolks, sugar and maple syrup in a large bowl. When you lift the mixer out of the bowl, the mixture should drip like a solid ribbon.
Set bowl with the gelatin into another bowl of 120 F water until the heat melts the gelatin.
Drizzle the warm gelatin into the yolk mixture and whip until mixture is slightly thickened.
Quickly fold the whipped cream into the yolk mixture. Quickly fold in the whipped whites. Fold in the chopped nuts. Distribute evenly among 6 to 8 dessert glasses or serving containers.
Cover and chill until mousse sets (at least 4 hours).
Makes 6 to 8 servings.
(Recipes created and tested by chefs and students of the New England Culinary Institute)
Source: Associated Press