Thursday, January 20, 2011

Maple Butter

110104_CPE_maple butter_2

Once the frosty magic of early winter gave way to the bleak, barren New England winter of February, when the ice had worn out its welcome and the snow was sullied by a season's worth of sand and salt, I looked forward to sugar shack season. On an unseasonably warm weekend each winter, my family would pile into the car and head to a sugar shack, where maple syrup -- and maple sugar candy! -- is made.

I don't know if the shacks are more tourist-oriented these days, but the places we went all seemed the same: We'd pass through the humid main building to sit at a rickety picnic table, set on pea gravel in a drafty, plastic-sheet-covered porch. The pancakes were never as good as my mom's -- probably made from a mix -- and there was always a wet, smelly dog running around looking for extras. But the syrup was heavenly, and for a few months after we savored the pure syrup we brought home in a little plastic jug.

That probably began my love affair with maple syrup. The relationship deepened two decades ago when I went to Quebec on a school trip. We stopped at a roadside spot for maple butter slathered on warm French bread, and I haven't been able to forget that spread.

This is not that butter. At least, I don't think it is. Authentic maple butter doesn't have any butter in it. It's a process of heating and reheating syrup, but it requires precise temperatures and I'm not up for the challenge right now. As soon as typed that, I began thinking... hm, I really should try it. When I do I'll report here. In the meantime, though, this easy spread will do just fine.

110104_CPE_maple butter_3

Maple Butter

Enjoy this on toast, waffles, pancakes, muffins, popovers, and more. We enjoyed them with Whole Wheat Ginger Scones.

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup pure maple syrup

Combine butter and maple syrup in a mixer bowl. Using whisk attachment, blend with stand mixer (or mix with a fork) until smoothly combined. Store in the refrigerator.


Cindy Rowland said...

For those of us currently on the east coast sugar season seem mighty mighty far away still. Grumble. Grumble.

Darienne said...

It will be here before you know it! I love winter through mid-January; winter into April I could do without. Hang in there.


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