It’s been a long while since a week got away from me, but this one did. You hopefully remember that I shared this Five Grain Seeded Soda Bread recipe with you last week? I promised a Maple Cream to go with it?
Well, then I got caught up in developing a bourbon cocktail recipe. And then there was an impromptu photo shoot coming up for a new piece on here. And then we were planning this unbelievably inspirational women’s ride with Rapha. Yesterday, 25 women came out to ride through sleet and snow with us here in Boulder. It was amazing, and by the time it was all over (and we’d had a few beers and played some Uno to celebrate our bad assery,) it was time to collapse into bed. So, when I was FINALLY sitting still this morning (while eating yet another piece of elevated toast) that I remembered to get this Maple Cream out to you (so we can get onto other, bigger things like COOKIES.)
There are some things in life that go exactly as planned. But most things don’t. This isn’t a bad thing, it’s just a consideration. My week was one of those things, it didn’t matter how much I planned for it, there were going to be surprises. Other things (like the first time you ride a new trail on your mountain bike,) have the propensity to be more successful if you plan a bit first. It’s highly unlikely that every root, movement, switch back will be executed as you imagine it will be. The enjoyment is learning to ride the trail with precision. Making homemade Maple Cream is like the new mountain bike ride; preparing to pay great attention to the process is your best bet for nailing this recipe on the first time. But, if you have a slip up or two, don’t fret. That’s to be expected. And the learning is part of the joy.
I don’t tell you this to deter you, but merely to prepare you. In fact, nailing down this recipe is one of the most satisfying processes I’ve mastered in a little while and I highly recommend it to you too because a.) homemade maple cream and b.) understanding the science of what’s going on here is really just so cool.
My suitcase was stuffed with maple cream after riding in Vermont this fall, and it wasn’t until I had devoured my stash and got the inspiration to put the stuff inside chocolates that I discovered making it at home is a rather straightforward process, albiet one that takes a specific focus, some patience, and great attention to detail. Basically, you boil maple syrup until it reaches the cusp of a soft ball stage. (What’s soft ball stage you ask? Check out this little guide to stages and temperatures of candy making.) Then you cool it down, and whip it to crystallize it. The result is this light, spreadable cream perfect on toast, mixed into frosting, or eaten with a spoon.
My best suggestion here is to set aside one of these winter afternoons to just be in the kitchen with this maple syrup. Make it an afternoon when you have not much else to do, and nowhere else to be. Read the steps carefully, follow the directions and you’ll have a great and delicious result. If you mess up the first time (or three, as I did) don’t worry, and certainly try again.
I’m making a LOT of candy these next weeks (also, PIE!) There isn’t another time of year when I enjoy it so much. If you’re the same, you can learn more about candymaking magic here, and here’s my favorite corn syrup substitute for all the candy we’re about to make! Weee! 🙂 xo L
- 1 quart 100% pure maple syrup (Grade A Light Amber is ideal)
- 1/4 teaspoon vegetable oil (or, heavy cream)
- First, double-check the temperature at which water boils with the thermometer you’ll be using. If it boils at 212° F, then you can follow the recipe as is and heat the syrup to 235° F.
- If it boils at a higher or lower temperature than 212° F, add or subtract that temperature difference to or from 235° F to determine your target final temperature for the syrup. (So, for example, if the water boils at 210° F, the final syrup temperature would be 233° F.)
- Once you've dialed your thermometer, prepare an ice bath.
- Combine the maple syrup and oil (or cream) in a heavy saucepan with high sides. (The syrup will bubble and rise as it boils, so choose a pan that is at least double the volume of the liquid to avoid boiling over.) Clip a thermometer to the side of the pan so that it is submerged in the syrup, but not touching the bottom.
- Without stirring, heat the syrup to 235° F (or the temperature you determined in your test.) Once it reaches 235° F, immediately remove it from the heat. If you will be stirring the syrup by hand, you can leave it in the pan and place the pan directly in the ice bath. If you will be using a stand mixer, pour the syrup into the mixing bowl (provided it’s stainless steel bowl and not glass) and place it in the ice bath.
- Stick the entire thing in the fridge until the syrup has cooled to approximately 40 to 45° F.
- Once the syrup has cooled, remove it from the fridge and from the ice bath. Allow it to warm up a bit, to approximately 55 to 60° F. If you’re using a stand mixer, affix the paddle attachment and stir the syrup on the lowest setting. If you’re stirring by hand, stir the syrup slowly -- don’t try to whip it quickly. And invite some friends over to help -- your arms will thank you.
- Stir until the syrup begins to thicken, lightens in color, and takes on a creamy consistency that somewhat holds its shape when stirred.
- Store the cream in the fridge for up to 6 months. It is normal for some syrup to separate and rise to the top over time. If this happens, just give it a good stir to reincorporate. (The cream can also be safely canned and stored at room temperature and then refrigerated after opening.)