Janine Gilbertson's Granite Kitchen: Maple madnessBy JANINE GILBERTSON March 20. 2018 11:06PM
Sugarhouses across the state are busy producing maple syrup this time of year, so if you get a chance to stop in to check things out, it’s a fun time for all ages and a good opportunity to stock up on some fresh, local maple syrup.
Maple syrup is a gift from nature — delicious and sweet from a tree. I wonder what that moment was like when humans first realized that the sticky sap on their hands was sweet and different from the sap of say, a pine tree. Sugar was not easy to get before shipping and transportation of goods was common practice, so maple syrup, much like honey, was a staple sweetener for many.
If you decide to go to a sugar shack or two, be sure to pick up some syrup. There are hundreds of ways you can use it in cooking and baking or in dressings, and of course, drizzled over your favorite pancakes or waffles.
I had a bag of croissants kicking around that I intended to use as a base for a cream puff kind of dessert so I used some fresh, local syrup to sweeten the whipped cream filling and to sweeten the glaze used for the top of the cream puff. The finished cream puffs didn’t hang around too long at my house so I’m pretty certain they were winners.
I had planned to make maple-glazed chicken wings from scratch, but as I was pulling the ingredients together while the wings and drumsticks were soaking in a salt brine, I came across a jar of Stonewall Kitchen’s Maple Bacon Onion Jam in the pantry so I used that instead.
After I soaked the chicken in salt water, I drained it and put the pieces on a parchment-lined baking sheet and stuck them in the oven to dry out a little, then brushed them with the jam. I don’t know how I managed to even get a few pictures of them because they were so good, everyone in the house kept eating them (including me) so next time I need to make a bigger batch.
I thought it would be fun to make some maple fudge, too. It’s a great treat to share with friends and relatives from out of town. Set the fudge on the counter and see how long it takes to disappear.
Maple Jam Chicken
2.5 lb. bag of chicken wings and drumsticks
1/2 c. maple onion bacon jam, such as Stonewall Kitchen
1/2 c. kosher salt
Olive oil (for misting or brushing over chicken)
Add chicken to a large bowl and cover with salt. Add warm water to cover the salt and chicken, then set aside. Let chicken sit for about 30 minutes, then drain. Spread chicken on a parchment-lined baking sheet and mist (or brush) lightly with olive oil. Set the baking sheet in an oven preheated to 400 degrees and bake for about 7 minutes to allow the chicken to dry slightly. Remove from oven and brush the chicken pieces with jam, then return to oven. Bake for an additional 7-10 minutes, until the chicken skin is golden brown and the chicken is cooked throughout. Remove from oven and serve.
Maple Pecan Fudge
1 c. pure maple syrup
2 c. sugar
1 c. heavy cream
2 T. light corn syrup
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. pecans, chopped
Place the maple syrup, cream, sugar, salt and corn syrup in a saucepan pan over medium-high heat. Stir until it comes to a boil. Using a candy thermometer, cook, stirring occasionally, until the thermometer reads 238 F. Remove from heat and add to a large bowl. Allow mixture to cool to about 110 degrees, then beat with an electric mixer until it begins to thicken, about 7 minutes (it will have a frosting-like consistency). Fold in the pecans, then add the mixture to a parchment-lined 8x8 baking pan. Allow fudge to cool for at least an hour. Cut into pieces and serve.
Maple Cream Puffs
2 c. heavy whipping cream
3 T. pure maple syrup
pinch of kosher salt
3 T. confectioner’s sugar
1/4 c. butter
1/2 c. pure maple syrup
1 c. confectioners’ sugar
Cut croissants in half lengthwise and set aside. Add whipping cream to a bowl and beat with an electric mixer until cream begins to thicken, then drizzle in the syrup and beat for an additional minute. Add confectioners’ sugar one tablespoon at a time, beating well after each addition. Spoon the whipped cream onto the bottom half of the croissant, then top with the remaining piece of croissant. Prepare the glaze by adding the butter to a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Once butter has melted, add maple syrup and stir well. Whisk in the confectioners’ sugar and stir well until smooth. Drizzle the glaze over the croissants and allow to cool before serving.