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Maple Butterscotch Sauce

April 5, 2010

Growing up in New England, maple syrup was a definite thread woven through the fabric of my childhood. Each winter when we had our first big snowfall, my mom would heat up a pan of syrup and instruct my brother and I to go scoop ourselves a bowl of fresh snow…and she’d then make us “syrup on snow” sundaes, the sweet maple melting the snow and making a delicious contrast of hot, sweet sticky syrup against cold fresh snow.

Elementary school field trips were often to places like Old Sturbridge Village or Plimoth Plantation (we had early American history drilled into us, that’s for sure. I remember being so upset one year when our class was supposed to go on a whale watch, but weather conditions were too rough and so we went to Plimoth Plantation instead. At the time I wanted to be a marine biologist, so this change in plans was NOT a welcome consolation prize.) But in any case, often these trips were in the spring, when we could watch the “village people” boiling down sap in their sugar shacks to make sweet syrup. When the day was over and the teachers would let students visit the gift shop, I always made a beeline for the maple sugar candy. Some people think it’s too sweet, but I always loved the hit of sugar with the every-so-slightly-bitter maple undertone.

And while our family vacations often took us to places like Cape Cod or Maine, some of my favorite memories are from trips to the White Mountains in New Hampshire, when we ate big heaping plates of pancakes with locally produced maple butter and syrup at Polly’s Pancake Parlor (if you’re ever near Franconia Notch, it’s definitely worth a visit!)

So maple is a flavor that just I adore, an ingredient close to my heart. And while I often gravitate towards using maple syrup as a cooking ingredient during the fall — it pairs so well with squash, apples, cinnamon, and other homey autumn flavors, doesn’t it? — it’s true “season” is spring. Often when you drive by stands of maple trees in our area, you’ll see metal buckets attached to their trunks, catching every last drop of the running sap. We have a few sugar maples on the land where we’re building our house, and while it’s always been a dream of mine to collect sap and make our own maple syrup, I recently learned that it takes forty gallons of sap to make ONE gallon of syrup — so my visions of boiling down copious quantities of sap to make a year’s supply of syrup for us may not, in fact, play out the way I originally thought.

Luckily, we live in an area where there’s plenty of local syrupmakers; in fact, New York State recently had a “Maple Weekend”, where syrup producers opened up their sugar shacks to the public in celebration of all things maple. And while we weren’t able to attend this year, I did make this maple butterscotch sauce to celebrate the return of maple season — it uses maple sugar and maple syrup for a maple double-whammy, and that’s a good thing by me. There’s a few things this sauce has going for it: (a) it keeps pretty much forever in the fridge (though we’re finding it doesn’t last long in our house); (b) it’s great, of course, spooned over ice cream (we’ve been having it over apple pie bars with vanilla ice cream!) but is also pretty terrific stirred into coffee, hot chocolate, or even in small quantities into plain yogurt; and (c) it’s a breeze to make. I don’t always have a perfect success rate with caramel-type concoctions, but this recipe is easy-peasy and really, really delicious — I love the way the maple gives the sweet butterscotch a bit more depth of flavor.

Other maple recipes:
Maple Pots de Creme
Maple Souffles
Maple Pecan Scones
Whole Grain Maple Oatmeal Scones
Maple Gingersnaps
Maple-Roasted Apples and Plums


Maple Butterscotch Sauce

From Cooking with Shelburne Farms

1/2 cup granulated maple sugar or light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup pure maple syrup [the book recommends not using Grade B, but they don’t say why – I generally prefer Grade B and will probably try it with that next time]
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
pinch coarse kosher salt

Melt the maple sugar, butter, and maple syrup together in a medium saucepan over medium heat.

Once the sugar is dissolved and the butter is melted, increase the heat to medium-high and bring the mixture to a boil. Cook for 4 minutes without stirring.

Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the cream (be careful; it may sputter a bit.) Stir in the salt. Pour into a storage container and let cool, then refrigerate.

17 Comments leave one →
  1. April 5, 2010 5:51 pm

    Yay for maple! I recently attended an open house for NH Maple Weekend, but the weather was unseasonably warm … producers seem to be having a hard time of it.

    A question about the recipe (which sounds amazing, BTW!): Why not Grade B? I generally prefer Grade B for the extra mapley flavor … Thanks!

    • April 5, 2010 6:15 pm

      Hi Pam – actually, I completely agree with you about preferring Grade B for the flavor; we do too! I am not sure why this recipe dictates using a non-Grade B syrup, to be honest. Perhaps you could try it with your grade B syrup and let me know how it turns out? 🙂 My guess is it was just the preference of the recipe author…I didn’t have any Grade B syrup on hand when I made this, or I probably would have tried that regardless of what the recipe said.

  2. April 5, 2010 9:29 pm

    Hi Amy! Thanks so much for the link. My husband LOVES butterscotch and I think the only thing he LOVES more is maple syrup so clearly I will be making this! Hope all is well with baby.

    • April 6, 2010 8:38 am

      Hi Dana! Thank *you* for the apple pie bar recipe. I made a batch this fall and froze about half of them (you were right; they made a ton!) They are so delicious!

  3. April 5, 2010 10:28 pm

    Plimoth! I just left that place. As in I worked there, and have just left. We would get so many people asking us if we ate maple syrup, and every time we’d have to act as if we didn’t know what that was. “Mayhaps you should ask those Native men about it.”

    • April 6, 2010 8:40 am

      Oh right, it was the Native Americans that taught the settlers how to make maple syrup, right? All of my trips to Sturbridge Village and Plimoth Plantation have blurred together at this point…maybe it was Sturbridge village where they were boiling down sap!

  4. April 5, 2010 11:59 pm

    Great photos. I wish I hadn’t seen the pics late at night when my sweet tooth is kicking in!

  5. April 6, 2010 10:38 am

    Blargh. That is the sound of me melting at the thought of this over apple pie bars and ice cream.

  6. April 6, 2010 2:00 pm

    Oh, this is to die for. It sounds delicious and a sweet thing!

  7. April 10, 2010 7:14 pm

    I just found your blog and love it! 😀 The pictures are gorgeous and you have so many wonderful, creative ideas.

  8. Amanda permalink
    April 11, 2010 4:02 pm

    Hi Amy: This looks great! Would you mind telling me where you get your mason jars? Thanks!

  9. April 13, 2010 6:19 pm

    This looks fantastic and I also love Shelburne Farm as well. 🙂

  10. April 14, 2010 1:05 pm

    I just found your blog and I have to say that I really love it. You have some really great, different, not ordinary recipes. This butterscotch sauce is similar to the caramel that I make, its to die for.

  11. April 14, 2010 4:07 pm

    I just made it (oh, yum) with grade b. did yours separate a little bit in the jars? i have about 1/2″ dark, clear liquid on the bottom of the jars…

  12. April 14, 2010 6:56 pm

    Hi Amy! Just popped in to see what’s cooking and I couldn’t of picked a better day. Maple Butterscotch Sauce is just what I needed to brighten up my evening. It looks heavenly:)

    Thanks for sharing…the memories and the recipe:)

  13. May 27, 2010 11:10 pm

    um, this looks too good to be true. totally going to make this and try it over some vanilla bean ice cream 🙂

  14. June 1, 2010 9:51 am

    Um…hello beautiful! Goodness gracious! I’ve made butterscotch before but I don’t know why it’s never occurred to me to make maple butterscotch!? I think I’m going to have to plan on making this very shortly! I second Amanda’s post, where did you get your mason jar? Beautiful!

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