I love to travel and experience new cuisines, but I am always astounded by foods native to the Americas. One of the sweetest ones is pure maple syrup. Native Americans used the sap for cooking, sugaring and as a source of energy. Today, maple syrup is widely produced throughout New England and Canada, and is the base for many delicious goodies.
No matter the form, I love the woodsy, caramel-like flavor of maple syrup. Along with sweetness, maple syrup serves up small amounts of a few nutrients including manganese, magnesium, potassium and zinc. Research shows that this humble sweetener also contains a number of phytochemicals.
Though for many, maple syrup only shows up on the Sunday brunch table, maple syrup has quite a culinary versatility. You can use it as a one-to-one substitute for other liquid sweeteners such as honey or molasses, or swap it for granulated table sugar by reducing the other liquids in the recipe. The perfect pairing with roasted winter squash, maple syrup adds depth and sweetness to sauces and glazes for other roasted vegetables and meats. No longer limited to pancakes and French toast, maple syrup can also be used to sweeten baked goods, smoothies, yogurt and hot tea.
I use maple syrup to sweeten my Maple-Roasted Pecan Butter. Spread it on whole-grain bread, drizzle it over crunchy apple slices or enjoy a dollop swirled into a bowl of oatmeal. Or, make a few extra jars, add some ribbon and a bow and share with friends for an easy homemade food gift.
Maple-Roasted Pecan Butter
- 2 cups raw pecan halves
- 2 to 3 tablespoons maple syrup
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Roast pecans in a single layer on a sheet pan for 5 minutes. Stir and roast an additional 3 to 5 minutes until pecans are slightly browned. Don't let the nuts burn.
- Remove from oven and add warm pecans to a food processor bowl. Process the roasted pecans, stopping every few minutes to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- Once the pecans have achieved a smooth, creamy consistency, add maple syrup, salt and cinnamon. Process again until the mixture is just incorporated.
- Enjoy the maple pecan butter on your favorite fruit, bread or a sweet potato. Store pecan butter refrigerated in an airtight jar for up to a month. If you notice oil separation — it's only natural. Just stir it back in and spread away.
This recipe was originally featured on MarisaMoore.com in 2015.