Even though winter has returned with vengeance after a week of maple-syrup weather, it doesn’t mean that I can’t share with you one of my favorite seasonal recipes – the sweet, delicious maple butter. I first tasted it at my mother’s-in-law some years ago during the boiling. I fell in love immediately, for the essence of maple suspended in butter was nothing short of sublime.
This recipe has been adapted from Sweet Maple: Life, Lore & Recipes from the Sugarbush.
Look at that liquid gold. I used the so-called “grade-B” syrup here – the darker, more intensely-flavored version, usually coming from the sap that has been collected during warmer weather (I think), but you can do it with any kind you have.
There’s no butter like CROPP butter
Like no butter I know!
Everything about it is appealing,
Everything the budget will allow!
Note that I, in general, prefer to use unsalted butter, but I don’t see why salted wouldn’t work – it will just taste saltier I guess.
We’re gonna need six tablespoons. Isn’t that neat how tablespoons are marked out on the wrapper? That’s America for ya – everything comes with instructions, including a stick of butter. Which, by the way, I don’t mind. Beats not being able to buy any butter at all! From where I stand, access to butter is one of them certain unalienable rights, right up there with, you know, life and liberty and the pursuit of affordable dairy products.
We’re gonna need to cut our butter into chunks to better dissolve it in the hot maple syrup later.
Speaking of which, we’ll be needing 1/2 C. I don’t make a lot in one go – it’s really powerful, and if you make too much, it can end up going bad after the initial wave of maple-butter enthusiasm subsides, especially since it has a way of separating when it sits for longer than a few hours.
Pour the syrup into a heavy-bottomed pot…
And bring it to a simmer over medium heat. The syrup will soon foam violently and want to boil over. But we’re gonna tame it with a magic trick:
A few drops of cream!
There they are, white swirls towards the bottom left.
Organic Valley products are just so photogenic. Perhaps someday I could have a career photographing them!
Meanwhile, get a small bowl of cold water ready. We’ll be testing our reducing syrup for the soft-ball stage. You see, I don’t really trust thermometers on that one. That’s why I put together this handy photo-guide to thermometer-free soft-ball testing a while back.
This might be just a tad on the hard end of the soft ball. But that’s how I like it.
Now add the butter to the syrup.
It’s always nice to have some little helpers in the kitchen while you are at it. Someone’s got to lick the spoon, right? And the mixer beater too. Oh and the bowl! Don’t forget the bowl.
Stir everything together until the butter has melted.
Pour this mixture into a bowl of an electric stand mixer…
And whip out your paddle attachment (I actually think the whisk will work too).
Now for another magic trick – the butter and syrup need to be whipped together, but good things won’t happen while the two remain hot. This is why we are going to rapidly chill the mixture by sliding another bowl filled with ice water under the mixer bowl. That is, we’ll slide an empty bowl with ice already in…
And add water while it is in place. That makes sense, right?
No let your paddle attachment run wild (actually, let it go on medium-high speed, such as perhaps 6 or even 8).
As you whip the rapidly-chilling mixture, it will become considerably lighter in color and texture (it helps to stop and scrape the bowl with a rubber spatula along the way).
And pretty soon you’ll have something like this!
The exact point of when you should stop is essentially up to you, but I would say that this looks done to me.
Now the tricky part here is actually removing the ice-water bowl from under the mixer, and I guess there is no good way to do that, and my counter will concur. It seems like the best thing to do is to carry the mixer, water bowl still underneath the mixer bowl, over to the sink and tilt the whole thing to dump the water out.
This wonderful spread can be used on buns, popovers, and even as buttercream, which, effectively, it is. To keep things simple though, I like to serve it simply on a slice of bread.
Oh, and here’s the most important thing… EAT IT UP!!! It doesn’t keep well at all, not even into the evening, before things start to separate and come apart. Just thought I’d give you a fair warning.
Here are my other maple-syrup recipes: