Stop!! Don't try a teaspoon, not even a half of a teaspoon. And do not, by all means, dip your finger in a freshly made batch and sample it thinking, "Oh a little bit won't matter." In fact if someone is making maple cream, leave as quickly as you can before you get a whiff of the pure maple syrup heating up on the stove. I know I wish I had. But instead I was a finger dipper. It was just a drop, no larger than a pearl. That is all it took to hook me on this delicate, natural, delicious sweetener.
Now some may think it odd that a syrup producer like myself for over thirty years had never tried maple cream before. But it is true. I cook so much with the syrup that I never considered the other products, except of course the maple granules I carried when camping. My enlightenment occurred this past weekend when I took a trip to visit some of the largest maple syrup names in the industry: LaPierre, Leader, D&G, and CDL. It was at LaPierre that I experienced maple cream.
I wandered in innocently enough, looking at equipment, chatting with other producers. I even stopped in to listen to a lecture on the new and improved grading system. Everything was going along just fine and normal when I passed the kitchen area and caught the scent of warm maple syrup. I peeked in to see a roomful of people watching a chef demonstrate how to make maple cream. I wiggled my way to the front of the crowd and eagerly adjusted my camera.
Chef Ruosso seemed delighted to be in front of a camera and when I told him about our blog, he got even more excited. This was a man who had passion for maple and its products. As he proceeded to work, I jotted down notes and snapped pictures as quickly as I could because making maple cream is a fast process. Aside from heating the syrup to the appropriate temperature ( maple syrup is drawn from the evaporator at 219 degrees), the entire time took between 10 to 15 minutes to make about 35 1/2 pints. That is, however, with a sophisticated electric machine. By hand, it would take quite a bit longer.
But although quick, he said it is tricky.
He said it took practice and shared with us what he learned. Heating the syrup is not an issue, he said, but the trick is in cooling it fast before stirring so crystals do not form. He also said leave the thermometer in the cooling syrup and closely watch it drop to the specified temp. Never never stir before it cools. And if crystals form, do not make cream from it.
In a nutshell the following link from Cornell shows how to make maple cream. Not many people will attempt this but it is always cool to know how something is made.
While maple cream is wonderful to eat just on the spoon which I do mostly, it also works as a topping for toast, smeared on grapefruit, lathered into vegetables, added to tofu, and dabbed into carrot soup and spread on squash. At least those are some of the ways I found so far for using it. When you find others please let me know because this is going to be my new project for my syrup.
So go ahead if you dare. Try it. But know you have been fairly warned.
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