I have been thinking about maple butter for quite a long time, possibly months.
Think of the potential here. Pure maple syrup transformed into a delicious paste means you can sandwich it in between two cookies, or spread it on toast for breakfast.
What this also implies is an even more practical way of getting maple syrup into my belly. I can eat it straight with a spoon, without making a drippy mess of my fridge area. Genius.
Maple butter is kind of a misleading name though, but the name maple cream isn't really much better, in my opinion. There's no cream or butter here. It's just pure maple syrup that has been boiled, cooled and stirred so that the syrup crystallizes in just the right way to give it this spreadable smooth texture.
Whatever you want to call it, this spreadable maple stuff is good. It's really good.
The science behind maple butter is relatively simple. You just boil maple syrup until it reaches 235°F (a.k.a 22–24°F over the boiling point of water). By doing this, you are basically concentrating the sugar, making it easier to crystallize because all the tiny sugar molecules are now really close to each other in the syrup. Icing the concentrated syrup quickly drops its temperature, again another step favoring crystallization (and specifically smaller, finer crystals over bigger, chunky crystals). In the final step, you stir the mixture for a very long time (crystallization is a process, so patience is key here): eventually it will turn opaque/creamy-looking and become maple butter.
I encourage you to sample after cooling the syrup both before and after the long stirring process because the mouth feel is really quite different, and that's how you know it's "done". However, avoid sampling the boiling hot syrup. It may be tempting, but it'll burn you really badly.
Maple butterPublished: May 23rd, 2013, Cook time: 10-ish minutes
Makes 1 large jar (~500 mL)
- 500 mL maple syrup (I used Grade A, amber syrup from Quebec)
- 1/4 tsp canola oil (apparently helps prevent the syrup from boiling over)
- In a deep saucepan, boil the maple syrup with the oil, until it reaches about 235°F on medium–high heat.
- Immediately, transfer the boiled syrup to your stand mixer bowl, and drop the bowl into a big ice bath to cool the syrup down to about 60°F. Then let the syrup warm back up to room temperature.
- With the paddle attachment, beat the syrup on low for a very, very long time (like 30 minutes even) until it turns opaque and the color of sesame butter (the texture on your tongue when you sample it will go from syrupy at the beginning of the process to very finely powdery).
- Quickly transfer the maple butter to a large jar and store in the fridge.
- If the maple butter separates at any point, just give it a good stir before using.