Today my friend, Tina, and I went to learn the secret of making maple syrup. I don't think we really learned any top secrets and we didn't even get to see the sap run because apparently it needs to be 40 degrees out. It was not 40 degrees out this morning. But since we were the only 2 customers they had, I think the old gentleman wanted to give us a good time anyways. I never found out his name so let's call this guy, Hank. I really liked him because he reminded me so much of my grandpa. Hank was slender and slightly hunched over, he wore those awesome old dude overalls and a goofy looking hat topped off with classy leather boots. He looked, to me, like a typical old Midwest farmer. Luckily I wore my snow boots because Hank took us on a little walk through the snow and trees to find a good maple tree to drill into. I seriously did not know that the process of getting the sap to drip was so easy. Hank had the tree already to go in about 2 minutes, granted he was a little winded, but it was simple and he was quite happy to do it. Thank god Tina was there to talk and ask most of the questions or it would have been me awkwardly following Hank around the woods for an hour with no words being spoken, just me right behind him carrying his tools.
After we were done tapping, Hank brought us over to where they cook the maple sap over the fire and boil it down to get the syrup. It seems like a long process and a lot of work, so I now understand why pure maple syrup empties your pocketbook. We took a few pictures and Hank gave us each a shot of maple syrup in a paper cup. That's one thing I can say I've never done, shooting syrup. After our shots, we headed for the car while Hank grabbed his ax and went back to chopping his wood.
I don't know if you've read the Little House on the Prairie books or not, but I read them all as a kid and yes, I watched the television series as well. We had 4 stations to choose from growing up and that show was really all there was to watch after school other than Power Rangers. Anyways, Laura would always talk about the maple candies that Ma would make after Pa would get the sap from the trees and make the maple syrup. Those people worked so much harder for their treats than I do. Apparently that was their big Spring treat and it was memorable enough for her to devote an entire chapter to it. Sorry Laura, but I get Peeps and Cadbury Eggs. Sucker.
In honor of our maple syrup day, and Hank, I'm making Oatmeal-Maple Scones. I wanted to purchase some syrup from the nature center but apparently they don't bottle it because they don't make enough to sell. So instead I went to Lunds and purchased some pure maple syrup made someplace else in Minnesota. It'll do.
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup pecan halves, toasted and chopped
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 8 to 10 pieces
1/3 cup cold heavy cream
1/2 cup MAPLE SYRUP!!
1 cold egg
1 cup confectioners' sugar
3 Tbs maple syrup
1 to 2 Tbs water
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Using a mixer, mix together the flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt, pecans, and raisins on low speed for 10 to 15 seconds, or until combined. Scatter the butter over the top and beat on low speed for about 30 seconds, or until the butter is somewhat broken down and grape-size pieces are still visible.
In a small bowl, whisk together the cream, maple syrup, and egg until thoroughly mixed. On low speed, pour the cream mixture into the flour-butter mixture and beat for 20-30 seconds, or just until the dough comes together. It will be fairly wet.
With a rubber spatula, scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl to ensure that all of the dry ingredients are mixed into the dough. Using a 1/3-cup dry-measuring cup, drop mounded scoops of the dough onto a baking sheet, forming 8 scones and spacing them 2 to 3 inches apart.
Bake for about 40 minutes, or until the scones are golden brown on top. Transfer to a wire rack to cool for 30 minutes.
To make the maple glaze :
While the scones are cooling, in a small bowl whisk together the confectioners' sugar, maple syrup, and enough of the water to make a smooth, pourable glaze. You should have about 1/2 of a cup.
When the scones have cooled for 30 minutes, brush the tops evenly with the maple glaze, then serve.
The scones taste best on the day they are baked, but they can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. If you keep them for longer than 1 day, refresh them in a 300-degree oven for 4 to 5 minutes. Makes 8 scones.
These scones were so easy to make. I think that they are even less work than cookies. They are quite large, so you could probably even scoop half the amount and double the yield. I'm not going to lie, they are tasty. Happy baking...
*This recipe came from the cookbook, "flour". It's written by Joanne Chang.