Vermont Chefs Talk Maple in the Kitchen
Vermont’s sweetest season starts in late winter, when those first warm days and icy nights trigger an age-old process – tapping trees, collecting clear sap, and boiling it down to what Vermonter’s call liquid gold.
If maple syrup whets your appetite for pancakes, waffles and other breakfast staples, you’re not alone, but Vermont’s chefs, innkeepers and bartenders have a myriad of other uses for maple. Here Vermont chefs share their favorite ways to use maple, and recipes so you can recreate the magic at home.
Sarah Natvig of Randolph’s Black Krim Tavern says she likes to subvert people’s expectations of maple as a sweetener by countering it with spice.
“The world of maple is endless! I tend to use it as an ‘opposite’ pairing with spicy dishes. I use a lot of chilis, so the maple adds a wonderful contrast to the heat,” Natvig said.
She recommends home chefs branch out by using maple in “vinaigrettes and brine for most proteins, in contrast to a spicy sauce (sambal ginger roasted salmon with maple soy glaze).
“Maple & creme fraiche or sour cream are really nice together,” Natvig added.
Matt Corrente of The Arcadian, a fine dining spot in Middlebury, says maple has become an unlikely kitchen staple.
“It's our mission to make Italian food using Vermont ingredients,” Corrente said. “Maple syrup is one of the most iconic Vermont ingredients, but also rarely found in Italian cooking. So we have to get creative. We really love making an Italian sweet and sour sauce called 'Agrodolce' using Vermont maple syrup and balsamic vinegar from Modena. This is an awesome and versatile condiment that can be used on everything from roasted pork to crispy fried brussels sprouts; it's even good on vanilla ice cream! Our beverage program might benefit the most from maple usage. We love using it as a liquid sugar to flavor cocktails,” Corrente said.
He highlighted Vermont maple sugar as a sweetener for home chefs.
“A great tip for home cooks looking to cook with more maple is to seek out some maple sugar, made with 100% crystalized maple syrup. As a solid, the sugar is super easy to directly substitute for white or brown sugar in any recipe and will become a pantry staple in no time,” Corrente said.
Enjoy the sweetness of maple season by sampling the below recipes at home! If you need to stock your pantry, the Vermont Maple Sugarmakers Association can connect you with maple products shipped directly to your door.
1. Maple Pecan Scones from Stowe’s Brass Lantern Inn
“We use maple syrup in lots of our breakfast options,” said George Lewis, owner of the Brass Lantern Inn in Stowe. He says guests particularly rave over these filling and classic sweet scones.
For the Scones:
1 cup of heavy cream plus a bit more for brushing on top of scones
¼ tsp. of Maple Extract
8 tablespoons butter (one full stick of butter)
2 cups of all purpose flour
¼ cup of sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup chopped pecans
For the Glaze:
2 tablespoons Vermont Maple Syrup
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons heavy cream
2 tablespoons of brown sugar
¾ cup confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place cup of heavy cream in freezer for 10 to 15 mins. Melt stick of butter then allow to cool while combining other ingredients.
Whisk/sift flour, baking powder, sugar, salt and pecans in a bowl. Combine cold heavy cream with melted butter. Stir with a fork until mixture forms small clumps. Fold in butter/cream mixture into the dry ingredients until all flour is just incorporated and pulls away from bowl. Do not over mix. Over a generously floured surface – dump dough onto prepared work surface and turn to lightly coat all surfaces with the flour.
Knead on counter 5 to 6 times or about 30 seconds. Flip over on work surface to coat with remaining flour, then pat down into a 6” circle.
Cut dough into 8 to 10 pie shaped pieces. Transfer wedges onto prepared sheet pan and brush tops with heavy cream. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. Let the scones cool before icing.
Glaze: Place maple syrup, half and half, butter and brown sugar in medium size microwave safe bowl. Cook on high for one minute or until mixture is bubbling. Remove glaze from microwave and add powdered sugar and vanilla to make a thick, but drizzle able glaze. Drizzle glaze over scones and let sit for at least 15 mins. to let glaze set before serving.
2. Hill Farm Inn’s “Sunderland Smash” Maple Cocktail
Hill Farm Inn, in Sunderland, crafts this cocktail to delight guests.
• 2 oz Vermont Spirits #14 Bourbon
• 1 oz organic orange juice
• 1 oz fresh lemon juice
• 3/4 ounce VT Maple Syrup (the darker the better)
Measure all ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake until very cold. Pour over crushed ice and garnish with a sprig of fresh rosemary.
3. The Arcadian’s Maple Balsamic Agrodolce
Maple Balsamic Agrodolce
• 1 cup Vermont maple syrup
• 1 cup good balsamic vinegar
• 1 tsp calabrian chile flakes (optional, if you like spicy)
• 2 Tbs golden raisins (optional, if you like dry fruit)
Combine and reduce vinegar and syrup by 50% over medium low heat. stir in optional ingredients. Cool to room temperature before serving.