Maple syrup can add flavor

Maple syrup’s in season; it’s time to season with it.

And who knows better about seasoning with maple flavor than the folks at Greene County’s Narrows Reserve, where they tap two dozen maple trees each year for sap? Maple syrup is one of nature’s sweeteners, and it can be used in a variety of recipes.

“Make a plan to try at least one recipe this year using maple syrup,” said Greene County Parks & Trails director Chrisbell Bednar. “Even better, try to buy your maple syrup from a local producer in southwest Ohio.”

The public will have a chance to do this Saturday at the Narrows Reserve Sugar Grove. It will be open from 8 a.m. to noon for hiking and demonstrations. You can get an early taste of local maple syrup right away at the Pancake Breakfast at Bellbrook Middle School from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m.

Besides maple syrup, park volunteers have offered to share several maple-flavored recipes. Becky Jarvi and her granddaughter Kathleen Menchaca, a senior at Beavercreek High School, developed new recipes about four years ago for a recipe contest at GCP&T.

“I had a book called ‘Nova Scotia Kitchens,’ a little cookbook from Michigan’s Maple Syrup Association, and ‘America Eats,’ about regionalization of foods,” said Jarvi, who went through the naturalist program with her husband Denny. “Kathleen and I spent a couple of days creating recipes, and submitted four or five of them. We won a gallon of maple syrup.”

Here are the results of their winning recipes: maple cake, frosting, custard and cones.

MAPLE SUGAR FROSTED CAKE

1/4 cup shortening

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons maple syrup

3 eggs, separated

3 cups cake flour

3 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup milk

Ingredients should be at room temperature. Cream shortening and add syrup. Beat well. Add egg yolks and beat. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl and add sifted dry ingredients alternately with milk or shortening and egg mixture. Beat egg whites until stiff but not dry. Fold whites gently into batter. Pour into 3 prepared 8-inch cake pans. Bake for 25 minutes at 350°F, then set aside to cool. Frost and sprinkle with walnuts.

MAPLE FROSTING

2 egg whites

1 cup maple sugar

1/4 tsp cream of tartar

1/4 cup of cold water

1/8 tsp of salt

In top of double boiler mix all ingredients. Cook slowly over boiling water, beating constantly with a rotary beater until peaks form, about 15 minutes. Yield: frosting for 8-inch layer cake.

MAPLE SYRUP CUSTARD

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup maple syrup

4 eggs

Salt to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter 4 custard cups. Put a shallow baking dish, large enough to hold custard cups, in the oven and fill it halfway with hot water. Beat the milk, cream, eggs and salt together in a bowl. Place the filled cups in the water bath in the oven. Bake for 20 minutes or until the custard is barely set. Remove from the oven. Run a knife around the edges and turn the custards out onto a serving plate or serve in the cup.

MAPLE WAFFLE CONES

1 whole egg

1 egg white

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup maple sugar

2/3 cup sifted flour

2 tablespoons melted butter, cooled slightly.

Preheat waffle cone baker. Set at medium heat. Beat egg, egg white and salt in a small bowl. Beat in the sugar, about one minute. Add flour, stir until all is incorporated. Stir in butter.

Spoon 2 tablespoons of batter in center of hot iron. Bake one minute; check for desired color.

Remove onto a clean cloth towel. Roll around cone form. Hold a few seconds to set. Drop a miniature marshmallow into the cone and press into the point. This will prevent dripping ice cream. Cool the cones on a rack. Store in a tin or glass jar.

A healthier option

For those of you who want to try a healthier recipe using less sugar, the late Joyce Hill entered this recipe for the contest four years ago:

MAPLE NUT HIKERS

Grind in a food processor:

1 cup walnuts

1/2 cup almonds (or macadamia or cashews)

1/2 cup sunflower seeds (or pumpkin)

Pour nuts into a medium bowl

Then combine in a processor:

2 Tbsp. carob powder (optional)

1/4 cup almond butter (or peanut butter)

1/4 cup maple syrup

2 Tbsp. coconut oil (or flax oil)

Dash sea salt

Add more maple syrup until mixture is thick and creamy. Add to nut mixture, stir with a wooden spoon and spread on a dehydrator sheet to 3/8-inch thickness. Dehydrate at 115 degrees for 24 hours or until firm. Flip and cut into bars. Dehydrate as needed. The longer they stay in the dehydrator, the more the syrup turns sugary on the outside. Makes 3 dozen.

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