Saturday, October 01, 2011

Maple sugar

When boiling maple sap beyond the maple syrup point, almost all water will evaporate. What is left is a solid mass that is ground into sugar when cool. Unfortunately I have not been able to see the process but the price tag (double of maple syrup) tells me that there must be more work and less water involved. It is a delicious sugar worth special occasions.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Maple syrup mousse

If you can, use dark maple syrup to make this mousse, maple flavour will be stronger. I also used less maple syrup than the original recipe as I prefer the mousse less sweet. This time I did not use almonds and soaked raisins as the recipe indicates but I can definitely see how they would be a great addition, so next time I will. Egg yolks in this mousse are not cooked, but if you need them to be cooked use pasteurized eggs.

Maple syrup mousse
recipe adapted from here 

2,5 sheets gelatin
170 gr maple syrup
3 large egg yolks
450 gr cream 

Soak the gelatin sheets in cold water for 10 minutes. Heat the maple syrup in a saucepan and just before it comes to boil remove from heat. Squeeze water from gelatin, add to maple syrup and whisk. 
Whip the egg yolks until light and fluffy. In a slowly stream add one third of hot maple syrup. Whisk well and then add rest of the maple syrup. Transfer to a large bowl and put into fridge. Stir frequently until thickened, like curd thickened. Can take up to 1 hour.

Beat the cream until soft peaks and gently fold into the maple mixture. Pour into bowls and refrigerate for about 2 hours.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Beaver Tails in Ottawa

Beavers Tail is a fried dough pastry that resembles beaver's tail. It comes with large variety of toppings, one on the left is with apple and one on the right is with maple syrup and maple butter. Very delicious!

Friday, July 01, 2011

Butter tarts

Butter tart is a true Canadian dessert. There are many different variations of it, runny, gooey, firm, with raisins, without raisins, with pecan, without pecans, chocolate...just name it. And there are probably as many recipes as there are Canadian grandmothers. Butter tarts are very sweet and when made with pecans they remind of baklava. Like the recipe that follows. These are also gooey, which is my favorite butter tart consistency.

Butter tarts
recipe adapted from here
makes 6

70 g flour
15 g ground toasted pecans
58 g butter
pinch of salt
about 1 tbsp cold water 

Cut the butter into small cubes, add flour, pecans, salt and with a pastry blender or food processor blend until you have grainy texture with some pea-size pieces of butter. Slowly add water and blend until everything comes together. Wrap and put in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
When the dough has chilled roll it out, cut out, line 6 muffin cups (or similar) and put in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. I use silicone molds (oval, each holding 100 gr water) as it is very easy to take out the tarts in case the filling leaks, which it almost always does.

Heat over to 200 C and blind bake the tart shells for about 15 min. Remove the beans and bake for another 10 min or until golden. 

In the meantime  make the filling.

40 g brown sugar
40 g maple syrup
40 g golden syrup
30 g melted butter
30 g egg
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vinegar
about 10 toasted pecan halves

Whisk all above ingredients except for pecans. Remove the shells from the oven and rise oven temperature to 230 C. Divide pecans over the shells and pour the filling into each shell. Bake tarts for about 10-15 minutes.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Maple butter

Despite the name the maple butter does not contain any dairy butter. It is made of pure maple syrup that has been boiled to a certain temperature and then stirred. It is very very sweet and used as spread on toast, scones or glaze on cakes. I use it sometimes instead of honey. Tastes wonderful with sourdough bread.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Maple syrup tart

The maple syrup tart should be as famous as the chocolate tart. This Québécois recipe proves it, c'est magnifique.
The crust is flaky, very buttery and not sweet at all. Do not be tempted to use your favourite crust recipe. Use this one. It is perfect pair for the sweet, sweet maple filling. Thin slices of this tart will go long way and it tastes even better the next day. If you have dark maple syrup this a perfect occasion to use it.

Maple syrup tart
Recipe from here
112 gr cold butter
137 gr flour
about 35 gr cold water
pinch of salt
Cut the butter into small cubes, add flour and with a pastry blender or food processor blend until you have grainy texture with tiny (about 3 mm) pieces of butter. Slowly add water and blend until everything comes together. Wrap and put in the fridge for 2 hours or more.

200 gr maple syrup
60 gr cream 
50 gr butter
1/2 tbsp flour
80 gr eggs (about 2 small)

In a saucepan bring maple syrup and cream to boil. Remove from heat, add butter and flour and stir everything together. Set aside to cool. 

Preheat the oven to 190C. Roll the dough and line a 20 cm tart tin, the dough should come up the side by about 3 cm. Keep the left over dough as you might need it to fill any cracks in the baked shell. But keep it outside the fridge as it needs to be soft. Blind bake for about 20 min, then remove the beans and parchment paper and bake for another 15-20 min until golden. 
Because of the high amount of butter, this crust is going to shrink by 1/2 cm, which is totally ok.

Add eggs to the cooled maple syrup, mix well. If the shell has any big visible cracks cover them with the left over dough, pressing very lightly. Pour the maple filling into the hot tart shell as soon as you can. If you pour it into a cool crust the filling will find all tiny cracks to escape through. Hot tart shell makes sure that the filling cooks as soon as you pour it in. Decrease oven temperature to 150C and bake the tart for another 25 - 30 min.Voilà!

Friday, April 01, 2011

Dark maple syrup

In Canada maple syrup is sold from light in colour to very dark in colour. The darker the maple syrup is the more intense the maple flavour will be. The colour depends on the time in the season the maple sap was collected, the later in the season the darker the maple syrup.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

How is Maple Syrup made?

We had an amazing opportunity to visit a sugarbush farm in Ontario, Canada and saw the whole process of making maple syrup.

Buckets are hanging on the trees and collecting the sap that is literally dripping from small spouts that have been bored in the trees. Big maple bush farms have hoses that are connecting all the trees.

On a good day one tree can give about 12 litres of maple sap. The season runs usually between mid March until end of April, depending on the outside temperature.

The temperature must be minus during the night and plus during the day for the sap to flow. At some point starch in the trunk converts into sugar and when the temperature is plus degrees during the day the sugary sap goes all the way up in the trunk, and when the temperature drops during the night the sap goes all the way down and is caught by the spouts.

The sugar level is measured with an aerometer and the sap contains about 2 % sugar, no more. Basically most of it is water and that is why it does not have the nice colour the maple syrup has. We tasted it and it has absolutely no taste. 
After many many hours of boiling in special machines the most of the water evaporates and the end product is left with 67 % of sugar and it looks and tastes like the maple syrup we know.

Before visiting the maple bush I always thought that the maple syrup comes out of the tree looking as in the supermarket :-). But there is so much patience and labour behind the whole process. Thank you Canadian First Nation people for figuring out how to do this.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Obatzda - Bavarian cheese-spread

Obatzda is Bavarian cheese-spread that can be found on the menu in every beer-garden. Every beer-garden has its own spice mixture that is added to the cheese. Some of the spices often used are sweet paprika, caraway, onions and beer. There are probably as many variations as there are beer-gardens.

original recipe
in German

250 gr Camembert (at room temperature)
1 tbsp soft butter
1 small finely chopped onion
salt & pepper
some sweet paprika
some ground caraway seeds
4 tbsp wheat beer (Weißbier)

rye bread

Mix well Camembert and butter. Add all the spices and as much beer as you need to get a creamy spread. Let it sit for at least an hour so that all flavours develop. Obatzda should be eaten on the same day it is made. If you plan to serve it the next day cook the onion in some oil until soft, cool and add to the mixture.  Obatzda is best eaten on a slice of rye bread.