New England is the capital of all things maple and ’tis the season for the sap to be running throughout DINEcountry. After the tough winter we’vew had the maple season got a late start due to colder-than-usual temps. The snow build-up also made it tough to get to the trees to tap them. However, recent warmer temps have “zapped the sap” and the steam is now flowing from maple houses and sugar shacks throughout New England.
When you visit the Distinctive Inns of New England, you’re treated to locally made New England maple syrup on pancakes, waffles and French Toast. But did you know when added to a chocolate sauce or to sweet potatoes, it makes for a deliciously sweet dish? Just in time for maple season, we asked the 12 Distinctive Inns of New England innkeepers to share some recipes that their guests have enjoyed in the past.
When it comes to maple, the Chesterfield Inn is all about adding it to ice cream…along with a little chocolate or bacon. Bacon on ice cream? Yup, it works when combined with maple syrup and some pecans. Here are two easy recipes for sweet maplely delicious desserts, combining the sweet syrup with some rather unusual combinations.
1 1/2 cups pure maple syrup
3 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup butter,cut into pieces
pinch of salt
Heat maple syrup in a small saucepan until hot. Whisk in cocoa powder, butter and a pinch of salt. Simmer, whisking for 1 minute. Serve warm over vanilla ice cream.
Maple Pecan Sundaes with Candied Bacon from Chesterfield Inn
4 bacon slices
2 Tablespoons maple sugar or brown sugar
¾ cup maple syrup
2 cinnamon sticks, broken in half
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1 Tablespoon finely chopped crystallized ginger
½ cup pecan halves, toasted
vanilla ice cream
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil. Set rack in pan, lay bacon slices on rack. Sprinkle 1 Tablespoon maple sugar evenly over bacon. Bake until sugar is melted, about 8 minutes. Sprinkle remaining sugar over bacon. Bake until deep brown and glazed, 12 to 14 minutes longer. Remove from oven. Preheat broiler. Broil bacon until sugar bubbles, watching closely so that it doesn’t burn. Cool on rack. Cut into ¼ inch dice.
Combine maple syrup and cinnamon sticks in medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until sauce thickens and reduced to 1/2-3/4 cup, about 5 minutes. Remove cinnamon sticks. Mix in lemon juice and ginger. Let stand at room temperature. Can be made 2 hours ahead. Serve with vanilla ice cream. Garnish with toasted pecans and candied bacon.
Caramelized Sweet Potato & Maple Napoleon from Rabbit Hill Inn (serves eight)
4 cups heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla
12 egg yolks, beaten
2/3 cup maple syrup
½ cup maple sugar
½ cup sugar
8 4oz ramekins
3-4 large sweet potatoes, peeled, thinly sliced
sugar for sprinkling
4 oz maple syrup
2 oz brandy
1 oz butter
1 cup fresh berries
8-4oz maple crème brulees, chilled
For the brulee:
Preheat oven to 350-375°F (this will vary based upon your oven)
Bring cream, vanilla, white sugar, and syrup to a simmer.
Take off heat and slowly whisk into the bowl of egg yolks.
Strain mixture and pour into ramekins.
Bake in a water bath for 30-40 minutes or until set.
Chill for at least 4-6 hours; overnight is best.
Maple brandy caramel:
Bring brandy, maple syrup, and butter to a simmer in a saucepan.
Reduce by half to two-thirds.
Set aside but keep warm.
For the sweet potatoes:
Arrange 24 slices of potato on a nonstick sheet pan or oven mat.
Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with sugar.
Bake at 400°F or until caramelized and crispy.
Assembling the Napoleon:
Center a potato crisp on each plate.
Spoon 1/3 of a ramekin of brulee on the crisp.
Sprinkle maple sugar on brulee and torch until dark brown but not burnt.
Repeat this process two more times, layering the chips on the brulee.
Garnish with fresh berries and warm maple brandy caramel*.
Of course enjoying your maple syrup along with an escape to any of the 12 Distinctive Inns of New England is always nicer than having it at home. There’s plenty of room at the inns for a spring getaway. Come enjoy a delicious breakfast, with sweet locally made syrup. Time it right and you might even be able to tour some of the sugar shacks.
Note: Featured top photo was shared with permission from the Mt Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce. Photo of the Hundred Acre Wood Sugar Shack in Intervale, NH. Photo by Dan Houde/Wiseguy Creative Photography.