Thank you, Canada
Ketchup, mustard, mayo, and maple syrup. Those are the primary condiments—at least, if you’re a Canadian. Maple syrup isn’t only meant for the breakfast table—let’s be clear, though: it’s also to pour atop pancakes and waffles—but it’s a stand-by ingredient you can add to food all through the day. Oh, and it’s excellent in drinks, too. (Don’t knock it till you try it.)
Please note: This isn’t the place for your grocery store Aunt Jemima or Mrs. Butterworth. That stuff is essentially sugar water or tinted corn syrup. We’re talking about sticky, sweet, roasted, woody, tree-born, true amber-colored pure maple syrup deliciousness that makes everything better. You will never pass muster at a Canadian brunch bringing anything less.
To put it simply, if you are relegating pure Canadian maple syrup to an occasional breakfast treat, you are denying yourself one of life’s greatest pleasures. It can go sweet, it can go savory, and it can go simple. If you want to just grab a jar with a spoon, nobody would fault you, but these eight foods and drinks are an easy place to start introducing maple syrup into the rest of your day.
Remember when you were a kid and you looked forward to stirring the syrup and making chocolate milk. (OK, this was yesterday.) You can get that feeling again in a grown-up way with steamed milk and a couple drops of maple syrup. Take that, Starbucks.
Or maybe you don’t feel like being fancy. No worries! You can stir in some maple syrup into your straight-from-the-fridge glass of milk for a sweet treat. Go a little crazy and pour the sweetened milk on your morning cereal—it will taste like childhood.
Maple syrup works on grown-up drinks, too. Think of the maple as a substitute for honey, sugar, or even agave syrup to turn even the most summery cocktails into a festive fall concoction. Darker liquors like rum, whiskey, and bourbon are kicked up a notch with a couple drops of maple syrup. It can be as simple as straight spiced rum sweetened and smoothed with a little maple or putting a teaspoon of the syrup into your Manhattan to impress your dinner guests with your fancy new “recipe.”
If you’ve ever been to a Thanksgiving dinner, you probably already know that maple syrup is a capital-M Must ingredient for carrots, squash, and sweet potatoes. But don’t stop there. A little maple syrup before cooking can up the ante on just about any root vegetables—parsnips, winter squash, radishes, onions. There are rumors it can even make kiddos eat their Brussels sprouts.
You top ice cream with chocolate, marshmallow, caramel, Nutella, butterscotch, nuts, cookies, candies, and whatever food group sprinkles belong to. Does it really sound crazy to try maple syrup?
Sweet Potato Fries
While you can of course add a thin coat of maple on your sweet potato before slicing and baking, you can also take your syrup on the side. Trade in ketchup for a maple syrup dip. It’s easy: combine Greek yogurt, mayo, and/or sour cream, maple syrup, and a pinch of cayenne pepper so it’s not too sweet.
Maple syrup in coffee is such a no-brainer that once you try it you’ll wonder how it had not occurred to you before. Substitute your sugar with a couple drops of maple syrup. Add maple syrup to your latte, your macchiato, your mocha, and every other fancy coffee drink you can think of. Bonus: In the summertime, maple syrup melts in your iced coffee when sugar tastes all grainy and weird.
If you’re not already glazing your bacon in maple syrup then I have just given you the key to breakfast (and lunch and dinner and snack-time) happiness.
You know what tastes best with maple syrup? More maple syrup. You can’t go to a Canadian winter event without people making maple taffy in the snow, and once you experience it, you’ll see annoying snowstorms in a whole new fantastic light.
Fill a container like a deep, rectangular baking dish with compact, clean snow. Pop it in the freezer (or leave it outside) so it stays a little frozen. Boil maple syrup on the stove for about 10 minutes, and then ladle out that hot syrup into a straight line onto the snow. Now, everyone take a popsicle stick, start from the beginning of the maple line and roll the stick all the way across the syrup. When you pick it up, you’ll have a taffy popsicle hybrid that will never let you look at yellow snow the same way again.