As hosting becomes part of our regular routine again, it’s the perfect time to give old dishes new life. How? Simply add maple to the menu. That’s right, maple.
Maple is an iconic Canadian flavour—not surprising, as maple syrup is one of Canada’s greatest exports, made largely by 13,300 maple producers in Quebec. But many of us have not ventured beyond adding that deliciously sweet sticky syrup to our breakfasts or desserts.
In fact, maple comes in many forms other than syrup, such as butter, taffy, sugar, flakes, spirits and even water, which means it can be added to any number of recipes, including savoury dinner dishes and appetizers. Maple adds a hint of sweetness but also enhances and harmonizes with other flavours. So when it comes to planning that next dinner party menu, don’t forget the maple.
Making appetizers with different maple syrups
There are four distinct maple syrup colours to consider: golden, amber, dark and very dark. These hues indicate the life-cycle stage of the sap, from early harvesting to late, and affect the flavour of the syrups.
Golden maple syrup means delicate taste. Drizzle onto a salad, some yogurt or a bowl of ice cream, or use in a sauce or dressing as a light marinade. Or try it in these Maple-Lime Chicken Nachos for both the mouth-watering maple-lime sour cream and the chicken flavouring.
Amber maple syrup means rich taste. Most commonly used for flapjacks and waffles, amber syrup has a pure flavour that goes well in baking as well as in vinaigrettes, with seafood and in glazes. Try it to add extra caramelization to roasted veggies and bring out their natural sweetness.
Dark maple syrup means robust taste—a deep, but not overpowering, caramelized flavour. It’s ideal for cooking and baking, especially for fruit recipes like crisps, crumbles and pies. It’s also perfect for adding rich flavour to onion and poultry recipes such as Maple Onion Confit and Maple Chicken Wings—tasty starters to wow your guests.
Very dark maple syrup means a strong, distinctive taste because it’s harvested at the end of the sugar season. It yields the strongest flavour, with a rich dark colour to match, perfect for adding extra pop to glazes and sauces. If you want to impress, use a very dark maple syrup to make the delicious dipping sauce to go with these Crispy Maple-Pork Chinese Dumplings. The recipe also calls for maple sugar and flakes, which you can find easily at your local grocery store.
Maple, the condiment that goes with nearly everything
There is no better ingredient for caramelization than maple syrup, and all maple products can be used as a natural sweetening agent. Substituting maple to sweeten can add a balance and nuance to your recipes, giving those same-old party menus new pizzazz.
So go ahead and flex your creative cooking muscle by grating maple sugar over dessert or fish/poultry, whisking maple syrup into whipped or even sour cream, or simmering or poaching foods in maple water. Or simply put a bottle of Canadian maple syrup on the table at your next dinner party and let your guests garnish as they see fit. Nearly everything tastes better with maple. Clearly Buddy the Elf was onto something with his spaghetti and maple syrup concoction.
Get more maple-inspired recipes and other cooking ideas at Maple from Canada.
Interested in keeping the maple theme throughout the evening? Be inspired to serve one (or more!) of these cocktails and mocktails to complement your appetizers.