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Dear Chef,

When baking a cake and frosting that calls for 2 teaspoons of maple flavoring (in the cake) and 1-2 teaspoons in the frosting, could I use real Grade A maple syrup instead of having to buy maple flavoring?

Stephanie from Gaithersburg, Maryland

maplesyrup.jpgmaplesugar.jpgUnfortunately, maple flavoring is a concentrated, artificial ingredient. I cannot recommend it for baking. To achieve a true maple syrup taste, I recommend using Grade B maple syrup or real maple sugar in lieu of the sugar called for in the recipe.

Despite the name, Grade B maple syrup tastes better than Grade A. Maple syrup is graded according to color; the darker the color, the more maple-y the taste. Grade A light is insipid, Grade A dark amber is a little better, but the best maple syrup is Grade B. Maple sugar, which is made from boiling down maple syrup, is wonderful to use in baking and can be easily substituted for granulated sugar or brown sugar.

The sap from maple trees is tapped in the spring, when the sap rises during warmer days. It takes 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup. There is no substitute for the wonderful taste of pure maple. Grade B maple syrup is also the best tasting syrup for pancakes.

Use this topping for pumpkin pie:

Maple Whipped Cream

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
  • 1/3 cup Grade B maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon

Partially whip the cream to soft peaks. Add the mascarpone, maple syrup, and bourbon to the cream, then finish whipping the cream to stiff peaks.