I recently returned from a road trip out east, part of which was spent in the beautiful state of Vermont. Since my destination was a small town, I spent a lot of time on twisting backroads that took me through lovely and heavily wooded hills. The official flavor of Vermont is Maple, a bounty they reap from the millions of maple trees that grow there. Maple Syrup is one of Vermont’s primary agricultural products; with over 1 millions gallons produced in 2011. Maple syrup is produced and sold at sugarhouses; which are often owned by generations of the same family. You can find many of these sugarhouses throughout the state, and visiting several was on my agenda. I especially made a point of stopping at Harlow’s Sugarhouse, a place in Putney, Vermont I had read about in Food Network magazine. It was a little out of my way, but well worth it. The sugarhouse was well stocked with their three varieties of maple syrup, Fancy, Medium and Dark Amber, as well as maple candies, jams, jellies, honey, mustards and Vermont cheeses. The Fancy is from the first run of the sap, and is lighter and milder in taste; the Ambers are from later in the sap run, with the Dark Amber from the end of the run. Some sugarhouses have Grade A and Grade B syrups. The Grade B is darker and more suited for cooking purposes.
These cakelike muffins are easy to make, and were a unique and tasty way to use up some of that Maple Syrup I brought back with me from Vermont. I used Grade B syrup for these. I am including a maple buttercream frosting recipe here, but these are so good they really don’t need frosting! I love their delicate oaty, maple flavor! Can you imagine anything more yummy than a warm Maple Muffin in the morning? Or with a glass of milk?
Vermont Sugarhouse Maple Muffins
This recipe makes 18 regular muffins, or multitudes of mini muffins!
2 ½ c. flour
2 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
½ t. salt
¾ t. ground ginger
½ c. unsalted butter, softened
½ c. light brown sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 ¼ c. maple syrup
2 t. pure vanilla extract
½ c. buttermilk
½ cup walnuts or pecans, chopped
Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and ginger together in a medium bowl. Set aside.
- Cool for a few minutes, then remove cupcakes from tins.
- Cool completely, then frost with maple buttercream frosting, if desired.
Maple Buttercream Frosting
1 c. butter, softened, unsalted
3 ounces cream cheese, softened
2/3 c. dark brown sugar
1/4 t. salt
3/4 c. maple syrup
3/4 t. pure vanilla extract
1 c. confectioners sugar
- Beat softened butter, cream cheese, brown sugar and salt in medium bowl until fluffy.
- While beating, add maple syrup and vanilla
- Slowly add confectioners’ sugar and beat on medium speed. Beat until frosting is fluffy.
- Frost cupcakes as desired.
- If you choose to add maple syrup on top, refrigerate frosting for one hour. Frost cupcakes, but make an indentation on top of each one. Pour a small amount of maple syrup to fill indentation.
OK, I love the taste of maple, but the real affeciandos of this recipe not only frost the cupcakers, but then pour maple syrup in a little indentation on top of the frosting! For me, that’s sugar overload, but, hey, feel free to try it!
I hope you and your family will enjoy this wonderful, homey recipe inspired by the Sugarhouses of Vermont. I know that I will definitely make these again! (Darn, I wish I had bought more maple syrup!)
Until next week, wishing you and your family all of God’s blessings, good health and happy eating!