There's no denying the chemistry between maple syrup and breakfast. A stack of pancakes looks exponentially sexier when dripping with maple syrup, and most waffles aren't fit to be eaten until every square is filled with pools of the stuff.
RECIPE: Buttermilk Pancakes With Blueberry Compote and Candied Hazelnuts
But maple syrup isn't a one-trick pony. Seeing as it's so good at breakfast, it stands to reason that maple syrup should be just as good at every meal — and it is. It tastes great in a huge variety of dishes, lending its sweet flavors and maple aromas to everything from appetizers to cocktails.
(By the way, we're talking about real maple syrup, not the high-fructose kind. That sickly-sweet pancake goop will always hold a special place in our hearts, but for the purposes of this article, we recommend the hard stuff: Grade B maple syrup.)
RECIPE: Pumpkin Maple Bourbon Pie
Here's a few of the best foods for bathing in maple syrup.
Vanilla Ice Cream
If you're going to drench your vanilla ice cream in a syrup, go with maple. Chocolate and strawberry toppings will always be available at the ice cream parlor, so opt for something different when enjoying an at-home treat.
Most people have already experienced the joys of maple syrup on bacon, usually as a result of the two co-mingling on a breakfast plate. It's a whole new beast, however, when you bake the maple flavors directly into the meat. For and extra-special brunch-time treat, lay your individual slices of bacon flat on a roasting pan (or baking sheet) and top each with a substantial drizzle of syrup. Bake at 400–425 degrees F for about 15–17 minutes (or until they reach desired doneness) and enjoy.
Nadia G. from Cooking Channel's "Bitchin' Kitchen" once insisted that we stock maple syrup in our home bar. “Just muddle some ripe apricots — or any fruit — with mint and maple syrup, add vodka, ice, top it off with sparkling water, and cheers,” she proposed. And for bourbon lovers, AskMen.com suggests trying a dash of the stuff into your next old fashioned.
Everybody's had pumpkin pie before, but not nearly as many have experienced maple-bourbon pumpkin pie. They make just such a variety at Brooklyn's Pie Corps, but if you aren't local, you can get the entire recipe here.
Glazing carrots with maple syrup is not only quick and easy, but it brings out the natural sweetness of the vegetable. Start with a pound of baby carrots (or peel and slice large carrots into half-inch chips), then place them in a large pan with 1/3 cup water, a tablespoon of butter, and just over a tablespoon of maple syrup. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 10–15 minutes. Stir occasionally. Once the carrots are done and the glaze has thickened, you're ready to eat.
Peanut Butter Sandwiches
Instead of jellies or marshmallow spreads, reach for maple syrup the next time you're whipping up a peanut butter sandwich. If you have the means, we highly recommend building a peanut butter and banana sandwich, toasting both sides in a buttered skillet, and drizzling your syrup over the top.
Gather a few cups of nuts — walnuts, pecans, cashews, whatever — and toss them into a mixing bowl. Add a tablespoon of maple syrup and a tablespoon of brown sugar for every cup of nuts, then stir to combine. (If using unsalted nuts, add a pinch of sea salt as well.) Spread them a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, then roast for 20–30 minutes at 350 degrees F. Once cool, transfer them to a serving bowl and enjoy.
Brussels sprouts get a bad rap, but people who trash them obviously haven't tried roasting them with maple syrup. Begin by trimming and washing your sprouts, then slice each lengthwise. Toss them with maple syrup and olive oil (about one tablespoon each per pound of sprouts) and lay them out on a baking sheet. Roast for 10 minutes at 400 degrees. Remove the sprouts and jostle them around, then put them back in the oven and continue roasting for another 10 minutes (or until done). Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then serve.
Some barbecue joints, especially those around the Kansas City area, use molasses-based sauces or brown sugar to achieve their signature tastes. If you love sweet barbecued meats (and you're feeling adventurous), try adding some syrup to your basting sauce for a sticky maple glaze.
Stir some maple syrup into a glass of milk, then drink it. It'll ruin you for chocolate. (We hear it's great hot, too.)