"Every day Grandpa puts on his boots and his warm coat and his fur cap and he goes out into the snowy woods and gathers the sap. With a barrel on a sled, he drives from tree to tree and empties the sap from the buckets into the barrel. Then, he hauls it to a big iron kettle that hangs by a chain from a cross timber between two trees.
"He empties the sap into the iron kettle. There is a big bonfire under the kettle, and the sap boils, and Grandpa watches it carefully. The fire must be hot enough to keep the sap boiling, but not hot enough to make it boil over. "
- Little House in the Big Woods
This time of year, the folks in the big woods and north country of New England are all about tapping the maples and boiling down gallons of maple sap to make liquid gold ! Maple syrup is such a sweet treasure and it's celebrated by the indigenous peoples as well as the settlers to these regions. Here in New Hampshire, this weekend is the annual Maple Weekend, when sugar shacks open up for visitors to tour the operations, purchase syrup, get some 'sugar on snow' or a pancake meal, and nosh on maple sugar candies. It's a great family weekend !
I have opted to stay home with my late winter cold bug and use up some of the last of our maple syrup to make a special treat that is a wonderfully smooth and creamy topping for cakes, pancakes, crumpets, scones, or ice cream ! Canadian Maple Cream is so easy to make !
I imagine this recipe may very well have been in the repertoire of many a settler in the big woods, as the contact between settlers and the trappers and loggers from across the border in Canada most likely exposed families to many cross cultural foods. To boot, the contents of this recipe are so common and the cream extends the use of the maple syrup to special desserts and even addition to sauces for chicken and fish dishes.
Here's how to do it ...
Canadian Maple Cream
1 1/2 c. dark amber maple syrup
1 c. heavy cream
1/4 c. cold water
2 heaping tsp. cornstarch
1. Place the maple syrup and heavy cream in a heavy saucepan and bring the heat up under the pans, stirring to combine. Keep stirring until the mixture is completely incorporated.
2. Mix the cornstarch and cold water, whisking to get all the cornstarch up into the water.
3. When the maple cream is forming bubbles around the side of the pan, spoon a bit of the hot cream into the cold cornstarch water and stir to combine.
4. Pour the cornstarch mix into the hot cream, whisking to combine. Then, stir continually until the cream begins to boil and thicken.
5. Remove from the heat and continue stirring until the bubbles have settled. Spoon the cream into jars and chill in the fridge.
6. Freeze the extra jars, as the cream keeps for about 10 days in the fridge. Leave room in the tops of the jars for the freezer to allow for expansion.
Note: Dark amber syrup is recommended for this recipe, as the color is enhanced by the darker syrup.
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