The Friday after Thanksgiving, I slept in late till the turkey wore off, then wandered my way to the kitchen for a traditional post-holiday breakfast of pie. As I switched on the electric tea kettle and sliced a wedge of Maple Buttermilk, I wondered to myself: Why must maple syrup be refrigerated after opening? It’s not like corn syrup or honey need to be refrigerated and maple syrup is—oy vey, did I remember to put it in the fridge?! I promptly checked and was proud to find it beside the “semi-skimmed” milk, then surprised to see how much extra was leftover from the recipe. I picked the bottle up. “Woah.” A lot. Like, 350 grams a lot. I took a bite of pie—handheld, no plate, no fork, no napkin, no shame—and pondered the situation. With less than a month left in Scotland and my waffle iron far, far away in America, what was I going to do with that much maple syrup? I took another bite of pie. I could either sweeten my morning oatmeal like a Canadian for a month (reasonable, tempting), or I could create a Dourmet post. I nibbled at the crust. With December just days away, finals were beginning to darken the Edinburgh horizon. Did I really need another project? So many Dourmet drafts already in-store. So many papers to write. I guess, I thought, another project isn’t necessary, no… probably not the best idea…. But. What kind of heartless soul would I be, to let all that maple syrup go to waste?
pumpkin pancakes with maple syrup-smooched cream cheese topping
”Pumpkin pancakes flecked with orange peel. Scent of nutmeg, ginger, clove. Thick dark maple syrup. Feels like fall!” So Ruth Reichl (characteristically, poetically) tweeted on September 24th. Of course, half her followers hounded her for the recipe afterward, and she soon posted it on her site. I copied and pasted it into my “must-make” folder that day, but somehow, someway forgot about it for “The Plethora of Pumpkin Recipes,” only to remember after I published the post. Reading about Joy the Baker’s Carrot Cake Pancakes—served with a cream cheese topping, for the love of God!—I got a longing for pancakes, and the pumpkin ones were suddenly stuck on my brain/stomach/heart. I began brainstorming ways to creatively weasel Ruth’s pancakes into the maple syrup roundup. Thinking back to the Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Cream Cheese Frosting that I made last November, I developed “Pumpkin Whoopie Pies 2.0: Breakfast Edition.” A dollop of cream cheese “topping” (that’s breakfast for “frosting”) makes these fluffy, bright-colored beauties even more memorable. Instead of sweetening the cream cheese with confectioners’ sugar like Joy, though, I subbed in a few glugs of maple syrup. I love the way it complements the pumpkin flavor and adds to the autumn feel.
not-quaker chewy granola bars: maple, blueberry, and almond
When I was a “wee lassie,” I was a huge fan of Quaker Chewy Granola Bars. (Chocolate Chip, of course.) Quaker calls ‘em a “wholesome snack,” which seems reasonable enough for a granola bar. But now that I’m old enough to read nutrition labels, I have to say: seriously? I love your oats, Quaker, but c’mon. Can you really advertise “made without high-fructose corn syrup” when the ingredient list mentions sugar six separate times, not to mention, corn syrup and corn syrup solids? I’m not saying Chewy Granola Bars are worse than Ding Dongs or Twinkies, but they’re no “wholesome snack” for wee ones, nor are they cool enough for adults, like you and me. Because granola bars can be cool, right? Chewy centers and crunchy edges. That’s cool. No corn syrup, lots of maple syrup. That’s cool. Dried blueberries that plump up in the oven and chopped almonds that become candied as they bake, an ingredient list that you can fully understand and pronounce, cutting a giant granola bar into lots of little granola bars and eating the crumbs left behind and having your whole kitchen smell like maple syrup and butter. That’s really, really cool.
not-a-morning-person maple, walnut, and brown sugar pound cake
I know. I know. I just went on and on about making granola bars from scratch, being healthy and wholesome and blah-blah-blah—and now I’m telling you to have pound cake for breakfast. Take it as my appeal/love letter to all the not-a-morning-person people out there. Because I think everyone should get out of bed in time for breakfast, and when “Rise and shine!” won’t work, “Have a piece of cake!” might just. In my maple syrup-searching, I found a fantastic recipe on Food 52 for Maple Yogurt Pound Cake. Low-fat yogurt takes the place of butter. Maple syrup takes the place of (most of the) sugar. The result is a lighter, moister pound cake than any classic recipe I’ve ever tried. To amp up the flavor, I substituted dark brown sugar for what was left of the white, and to add texture and crunch, I mixed in toasted walnuts (pecans would also work nicely). The loaf keeps well on the counter, just like a quick bread, and freezes well, too. Make it on a Saturday or Sunday, you’ll have a ready-and-waiting breakfast for the rest of the week. Slice a piece, pop it in the toaster, smear it with butter or cream cheese. Takes three minutes, tops, and then you’re chowing down on pound cake while everyone else is eating “granola bars,” psh. I think even a not-a-morning-person person would call that a “good morning.” Pumpkin Pancakes with Maple Syrup-Smooched Cream Cheese Topping
for the pancakes:
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (or 3/4 cup all-purpose, 1/2 cup whole wheat)
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- Few shakes ground cinnamon
- Couple shakes ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- Zest of 1 orange
- 4 eggs, separated
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 3/4 cup pumpkin puree
- 1 1/4 cup buttermilk
- 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
for the cream cheese topping
- 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 shake ground cinnamon
- Maple syrup, to taste
Make the cream cheese topping:
Stir together cream cheese, vanilla extract, and cinnamon. Drizzle in a two-count of maple syrup. Taste, and add more to reach desire sweetness and consistency. (I got mine to about the thickness of Greek yogurt.) Refrigerate until ready to make pancakes.
Whisk together the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg until in a large bowl. Stir in the orange zest.
Whisk the egg yolks with the melted butter in a medium sized bowl. Stir in the pumpkin puree, buttermilk, and vanilla.
Using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites in a separate bowl until stiff peaks form, about 2 minutes.
Mix the pumpkin mixture into the flour mixture. Gently stir in 1/3 of the beaten egg whites, then carefully fold in the remaining egg whites. Make three-inch pancakes with a 1/4-cup measuring cup, and cook in a lightly oil cast iron skillet or griddle. Serve with a dollop or two of maple syrup-smooched cream cheese.
Not-Quaker Chewy Granola Bars: Maple, Blueberry, and Almond
- 1 2/3 cups oats
- 1/3 cup oat flour
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 1/2 cups chopped almonds
- 1 1/2 cups dried blueberries
- 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons melted butter
- 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon water
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 8 x 8 pan with parchment paper so it overhangs two sides. Grease the parchment and any exposed pan.
In a large bowl, stir together the oats, oat flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, almonds, and dried blueberries.
In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the melted butter, maple syrup, vanilla, and water.
Pour the butter-syrup mixture into the dry ingredients and toss until well-combined and evenly crumbly. Spread in the prepared pan, shaking the pan to evenly cover the bottom, and patting down gently.
Bake the bars for 25 to 30 minutes, until golden brown around the edges a bit golden on top. (When I took the pan out of the oven, I gently pressed down on the top of the bars with a spatula to compress.) Cool completely in pan.
Before cutting into bars, refrigerate for a half hour or so. This will help prevent any crumbling. Holding the parchment edges, transfer from pan to cutting board. Cut into bars. Wrap individually to store. These also freeze well.
Not-a-Morning-Person Maple, Walnut, and Brown Sugar Pound Cake
adapted from Food 52
- 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
- 3/4 cups plain yogurt, preferably not nonfat
- 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (or 3/4 cup all-purpose and 3/4 cup whole wheat)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup chopped walnuts, toasted, lightly tossed in flour
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Generously butter 8 1/2×4 1/2×2 1/2-inch metal loaf pan.
In a large bowl, whisk together maple syrup, yogurt, sugar, eggs, and vanilla. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Sprinkle dry ingredients over wet, and stir to incorporate. Add oil and fold gradually until oil absorbs into the batter. Stir in walnuts.
Pour batter into prepared loaf pan. Place pan on baking sheet in oven and bake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 50 minutes, rotating halfway through. Cool cake in pan on rack 5 minutes. Cut around pan sides to loosen cake. Turn cake out onto rack. Turn cake upright on rack and cool completely.