By Elena Gustavson
Maple syrup. Ubiquitous and delightful. Celebrated and loved. The sweet liquid gold of our green mountains. Vermont is well known for its sugar houses that dot our working landscape, belching steam from its vents and smoke from its stacks. Our season is short and completely dependent on the weather - freezing nights, warmer than freezing days - and a sugarmaker can be found in the sugar house for days on end as long as the sap is running.
In our house, besides the usual pancakes and waffles, we drizzle maple syrup over bananas slathered with peanut butter or use it to sweeten our tea. It is delicious on oatmeal, in a smoothie, in a salad dressing and spooned over plain yogurt or even ice cream.
Maple syrup, like honey, is rich in antioxidants and minerals from the trees it comes from. It is a great substitute in recipes that call for honey or simple syrup and can often be successfully swapped in for cane sugar. Depending on the recipe and whether we are talking about baking or cooking, you can swap out white, granulated sugar successfully much of the time.
When you are baking, 1 cup of white sugar can be substituted with ¾ cup of maple syrup, remembering that the maple syrup is a bit less sweet tasting, has its own unique flavor and may cause your baked goods to brown a bit faster. Because maple syrup also has more moisture, reduce the rest of your recipe liquid content by approximately 3 tablespoons.
For other types of cooking, use approximately three fourths the amount of maple syrup as you would white sugar. For example, if a recipe calls for 1 cup of sugar, use ¾ cup of maple syrup. If a recipe calls for 3 Tablespoons of sugar, use 2 Tablespoons of maple syrup.
Maple syrup recipes abound, so rather than give you lots of new ones, I’ve included my own recipe for granola that is a staple in our house. Full of nutritious ingredients and healthy fats, we swapped in good old maple syrup, forgoing the usual white or brown sugar, giving us a quick and good-for-you snack or breakfast that is perfectly sweet.
So the only question now is...golden, amber or dark?
Maple Cinnamon Granola
- 2 cups rolled oats
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 2 generous pinches of sea or kosher salt
- ½ cup of sliced almonds (also try walnuts, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds and/or sunflower seeds)
- ¼ cup coconut oil + ¼ cup very warm water, mixed*
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- ⅓ cup maple syrup, amber or dark grade
- ½ cup dried fruit of your choice (apricots, apples, cranberries, currants, etc)
Steps to Deliciousness:
- Preheat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
- In a large bowl, mix together the first four ingredients with a large spoon. Add the coconut oil/water mixture and fold with the oat mixture until everything is well coated. Add the vanilla extract and maple syrup. Mix well.
- Spread the granola evenly onto a baking sheet. Use two sheets if necessary.
- Bake the granola for 30 to 40 minutes, or until it is toasted and dry. Half way through the baking time, using a wooden spoon, mix and fold the granola on the baking sheet so it toasts evenly.
- While still warm, sprinkle dried fruit onto the baked granola and fold it in. Let cool before serving or store in an airtight container.
*Coconut oil liquefies at body temperature, but I find it is helpful to make this granola when the coconut oil has been softened to liquid using very warm water. Straight out of the tap is just fine, or heat on the stove until hot to touch.
Elena Gustavson manages Rutland Area Farm and Food Link’s Everyday Chef, a food and cooking program that focuses on increasing a person’s confidence and empowerment in the kitchen.
Originally published in the Rutland Herald on March 22, 2016