This maple syrup season has been simply phenomenal. We’re about one month into it, have 10 trees tapped and have already boiled down enough sap to produce 2 gallons of some of the best tasting syrup I’ve ever tasted. Compared to last year, we’re already up a half gallon, which is pretty good. I’m still boiling right now and if things pan out the way they’re supposed to, we’ll be up to two and a half gallons. Personally, I think this is spectacular, seeing I’ve never made syrup in my life until last year. Thank you Maine.
I wanted to find a good recipe that would use the syrup in a way that’s worthy. I first thought of something with apples in it, like my German Apple Pancakes. That’s still a possibility. I also thought about some sort of apple muffins or an apple crumb cake, but Laura and I decided that we need to wait a bit before we dive back into those types of recipes. Too much of a good thing turns into too much of a good thing, if you know what I mean. We can’t be eating desserts every day.
Finally, I thought about a nice side dish. Something that would accentuate the flavor of the syrup and offer a bit of sweet itself. When I found a recipe called Candied Sweet Potatoes at Cook’s Country, I knew it was the one.
This is quite a simple recipe to prepare. There are few ingredients and can be cooked rather easily. If a few key directions are followed, I think anyone who tries it will enjoy success. I do, however, want to point out one important consideration. If you’ve ever eaten real maple syrup, you know the difference between it and the fake stuff. I just looked up the ingredients of a big name “syrup” and this is what I found:
High Fructose Corn Syrup, Corn Syrup, Water, Salt, Cellulose Gum, Molasses, Potassium Sorbate (Preservative), Sodium Hexametaphosphate, Natural and Artifical Flavor (Caramel Color, Corn Syrup), Artificial Flavor, Citric Acid, Caramel Color, Mono and Diglycerides.
Now, I suppose I can’t complain here – this actually is syrup. It’s just not maple syrup. It’s corn syrup. The ingredients in the maple syrup I used are only one: maple tree sap. I understand that not everyone has maple trees growing on their properties, but grocery stores do usually sell pure maple syrup next to the corn syrup. It’s up to you. I say to give it a try. Believe it or not, pure maple syrup actually offers some health benefits.
Nutritional Value – Maple Syrup. The nutrients found in maple syrup include energy, water, protein, fat, carbohydrates, and sugars. In terms of minerals, it contains calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus sodium, potassium, and zinc. Vitamins such as thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and B6 are also found in maple syrup. (Source)
3 Pounds Sweet Potatoes (3 Large Ones)
4 Tablespoons Regular Olive Oil
Regular Table Salt
Ground Black Pepper
1/2 Cup Maple Syrup
1/2 Cup Water
2 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter
1 Teaspoon Cornstarch
I’d like to offer a quick tip before I begin. Down below, you’re going to be asked to add some cornstarch to the syrup mixture. It’s important to remember that cornstarch is to be added to cool liquids, not warm. This particular ingredient clumps together and forms lumps when added to warm liquids. So, when you make it to this step, be sure to add the cornstarch to the saucepan before you add any heat. You’ll be thanking yourself later on.
The first thing you need to do is to pre-heat your oven. Arrange the racks so one of them is in the lowest position and turn the heat to 450 degrees.
Peel & Slice Sweet Potatoes
While the oven is warming, peel the sweet potatoes and slice them into 3/4 inch pieces. Then, add them to a large bowl and mix them with 2 tablespoons of regular olive oil and 1 teaspoon of regular table salt. Continue mixing until the potatoes are well coated with the oil.
When that’s finished, arrange the pieces of potato on a baking sheet.
Finally, add the baking sheet to the oven and set timer for 20 minutes. Important: be sure to rotate baking sheet after 10 minutes. My oven heats from the rear, so that’s where the potatoes browned the most. It’s critical to have even browning. This baking step’s goal is to soften the potatoes as well as to brown the bottoms of each piece to offer some caramelization and flavor.
Make Syrup Mixture
While the potatoes are cooking, add the half cup maple syrup, half cup water, 2 tablespoons regular olive oil, 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter and 1 teaspoon cornstarch. Remember the cornstarch warning above.
After everything is in the saucepan, combine well and put over high heat until it begins to boil. Then, reduce heat to medium and whisk for about 5 minutes. When finished, remove from heat.
If you cool some of this mixture on a spoon and taste it, you should experience something extraordinarily wonderful.
Bake in Casserole
After 20 minutes, check the oven and lift a few of the pieces of sweet potato carefully with a fork. If the bottoms have browned, remove the baking sheet from the oven. If they haven’t, keep cooking until they do.
Once the potatoes are finished and have browned on the bottoms nicely, remove them from the baking sheet and add them to a casserole (9×13″). Then, pour the syrup mixture over the potatoes.
Then, place the casserole in the oven for about 10 minutes. You’ll know when the baking is finished when the syrup mixture begins to boil on the outer edges of the dish. When that happens, remove from the oven and let cool somewhat before serving. You may also season with pepper if you wish.
The Final Dish
This dish is extremely tasty and is somewhat guilt free. I’d say it’s perfect for a holiday or any time when you want to get a reaction (in a good way). Enjoy!
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