Sunday, March 27, 2011

Maine Maple Sunday

Who knew chocolate and maple made a good combination?
         Today is Maine Maple Sunday. According to the Maine Maple Producers Association, “Sap can only be harvested while it’s moving through the trunk. The sugar in sap is stored as starch throughout the year. During the spring, the warm days and cold nights help change these starches to sugars and the flow of sweet sap begins.” Science has never sounded so delicious to me. In honor of this delectable natural sweetener, I made maple cupcakes with chocolate maple ganache, as well as some granola sweetened with maple syrup. These recipes are a good way to get out from under the thumb of processed sugar. I used organic maple syrup from Maine Maple Products, a Maine company, since I’m always trying to go organic and local.
I took the cupcake recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. You must buy this cookbook whether you are vegan or not; I’m not, by the way. The cupcakes are delicious and the recipes are pretty easy. If you know someone who is lactose intolerant, this is the dessert cookbook for them. It gives an overview of all of the specialty ingredients (you should be able to find all of the ingredients for most of the recipes in any larger grocery store), equipment, and baking tips you may need. Also, it has a troubleshooting section just in case something goes wrong.
          The granola recipe is available online from the NY Times. It is low in fat, quick, and very flexible about adding nuts, seeds, and dried fruit of your choice. I just use the oats, nuts, cinnamon, salt, and maple syrup. It would be difficult to mess this recipe up. I mean, you could try if you wanted, but I don’t know why you would. Both recipes are easy and full of maple syrupy goodness.
This granola is great plain or in yogurt for some added crunch.

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