Blog Maple Leaf Cookies
It's maple sugaring season here in the Northeast, and sugar makers everywhere are hoping for the right combination of temperatures so that the sap will run. Last year maple syrup production dropped almost 20 percent compared to the previous year, because of unusually warm temperatures. In some parts of Vermont, maple sap began running in January, catching sugar makers off-guard. I wonder what this year's season will be like?
The changing weather is partly responsible for the grade of syrup produced. Although many states have their own standards for grading maple syrup, generally speaking there are four grades sold commercially, from light to dark: Grade A light amber (or "Fancy"), Grade A medium amber, Grade A dark amber, and Grade B. (There's also a commercial grade, or "Grade C," which may be used as an ingredient in salad dressings, baked goods, and other products.) Darker color means more flavor, which is why I generally prefer using Grade B in cooking; it makes more of an impact. That said, there are other factors that affect flavor, such as the growing conditions of the trees and the boiling process, and some of the lighter grades of syrup can have lovely and complex flavors, perfect for pouring on pancakes, waffles, or ice cream. If you go to a sugarhouse, you may be able to taste a sample of the different grades before you buy. Consider buying two jugs of maple syrup—one for pouring and one for cooking.
This week's recipe is just one example of the wonderful baked goods you can make with maple syrup. Enjoy!