Category Archives: breakfast

Maple Butter (or Maple Cream, If You’re Fancy)

I’ve had maple butter bouncing around in my head for a while, a new fun something to make after being told that I must try it.

I had no idea what maple butter was, but research explained that by heating maple syrup to 233 °F, cooling to 40 °F, then warming it back up to 60 °F, the syrup morphed into maple butter (or maple cream, if you’re fancy). The promise of a spreadable maple syrup stuck with me since I discovered its existence, but I wanted a yard full of snow before I tried to make something that required rapid cooling.

Cold, wet, or messy on their own are fine, but they make up the Trifecta of Horrible when combined. As such, I do everything I can to avoid making an ice bath.

A heavy snow on Friday night and Saturday morning took care of the ice bath problem so I got out the trusty candy thermometer to make maple butter. I confess that my research on maple butter was minimal and that I stirred when I ought not to (during the cooling phase), but everything still turned out, and how.

I kept eating the maple butter off of the spoon and finally had to pack it up so I would leave it alone. The next morning I had my doubts about why I was swooning over this stuff (OH THIS IS NEW SO IT MUST BE AWESOME AND BETTER THAN ANYTHING ELSE), so I compared a drizzle of maple syrup to a bit of the maple butter in oatmeal to see if I was simply infatuated by something bright and shiny.

No, it was love. Straight maple syrup tasted tinny and one-dimensional but the maple butter was full, toasty, and strikingly buttery. I figured the name ‘maple butter’ referred to the consistency (it is spreadable like peanut butter), but it tasted so buttery that, had I not made it, I would have guessed butter had been added. I went ahead and added butter to the bowl in this photo, just to push it over the top.

What also surprised me was the texture of the maple butter. The maple butter appears to be a dilatant. Like a cornstarch and water mixture, it is solid if you touch it but if you begin to push it around or stir it, it has fluid-like qualities. Dilatants have “a dense mixture of granules and liquids” which makes perfect sense as to why the maple butter acts as it does.

With hopes of finding out more about sugars in maple syrup, I opened McGee’s On Food and Cooking and read how the process of making maple butter is very similar to making maple sugar (his temperatures are a little different from Wikipedia, if you’re fact checking). The difference between making maple sugar and maple butter is the step of cooling and stirring in maple butter. Maple sugar is made by heating maple syrup to above boiling, then allowing it to cool and form sugar crystals. Maple butter is heated, rapidly cooled, then rewarmed and stirred vigorously– instead of ending up with big crystals of maple sugar in syrup, the sugar crystals are very fine and densely distributed in the reduced maple syrup. Maple butter, the great dilatant confection.

Maple Butter (Maple Cream)

Full-flavored, buttery, and spreadable, I have to keep this out of my sight or I eat it straight off of the spoon. I put a pat on a waffle and added it to oatmeal, but maple butter would be great in a milk-based drink, added to BBQ sauce, in a sweet-savory sandwich, between two cookies….
You must use 100% pure maple syrup for this recipe.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup pure maple syrup

Instructions

  1. Prepare an ice-bath (or wait until you have snow drifts deep enough to put a small pot, your call) for a small pot.
  2. Fit a small, deep pot with a candy thermometer.
  3. Over medium-high heat, bring the syrup up to 233 °F (112 °C), stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, about 3-4 minutes.
  4. Immediately remove the pot from the stove and set in the ice bath. Stir occasionally until the syrup cools to 40 °F (4 °C), about 5-8 minutes.
  5. Back on the stove over medium-low heat, warm the syrup to 60 °F (15 °C), stirring frequently.
  6. Once the maple syrup reaches 60 °F, remove from heat again and stir vigorously for 2-3 minutes.
  7. Set the pot aside and let stand for 10 minutes. The syrup will begin to cloud and turn a light tan color.
  8. Stir until the maple butter is smooth and easily spreadable.
  9. Use at once or store covered in the refrigerator.

Quick notes

This is exactly how I made the maple butter, goof-ups and all. Keep an eye on the syrup since as it reaches 233 °F it boils up considerably. If you’d like to experiment, try leaving the maple syrup undisturbed as it cools, then beat it with a wooden spoon while bringing it back up to 60 °F until it is tan in color and smooth.

Baked Eggs with Toast Soldiers, Many Ways

I’m a sucker for breakfast.

I love stealing down the stairs before anyone is up and starting breakfast
sometimes bringing it back to bed when I’m done
sometimes hearing the steady sound of descending footsteps before I’m finished with everything.

My husband’s favorite breakfasts are pancakes, waffles or dougnuts.
I make these for him at that magical intersection of him asking and me being willing.

A sweet breakfast is something I do out of love
and that’s pretty much it.
Any other time of the day
something with that much sugar would be classified as dessert.

I can’t start my day off with dessert.
I think I’d keel over from my blood sugar dropping by my toes.

Instead
give me breakfast tacos
filled with potatoes and tomatoes with cheese, bacon, and a lake of salsa fresca
an onion bagel with butter
polenta with green onions and parmesan!

Onions seem to be a reoccuring thing.

Always kiss me goodnight
BUT, BOY, YOU BEST HANG ONTO YOUR SOCKS IN THE MORNING.

In addition to onions
I also sing glory to eggs.

I don’t like an egg sunny-side up
or hard boiled
or soft boiled
or by itself.

I like them mixed in with other things
or scrambled with a lot of butter or bacon fat
or in a cheese omelet
or baked.

Baked eggs are wonderful things.

I had never made them before
but I ate them in one form at Bouchon in Las Vegas
and then came across this post about them.

Like Jennifer, I wondered why I hadn’t made baked eggs yet.

One morning I stood at my kitchen window
and realized the kale plants were starting to look like palm trees.

It was time to use some kale
it was time for breakfast
and it was time for baked eggs.

Kale from a garden is not for the squeamish.
An impressive variety of spiders claim its curly edges for home
and I now know those ruffles make a perfect spot for cocoons.

After picking, cleaning, chopping
AND GARBAGING DISPOSAL-ING THE HELL OUT OF SOME SPIDERS
I put all of the kale into a pot.

After it had cooked down a little
I added some onions
OF COURSE

and cooked those until they were softened and brown around the edges

A little salt and sherry vinegar
and the kale was done.

I had tomatoes in the garden
(we’ve only been done with them for a few weeks now and I miss them already)
so I chopped up a Cherokee Purple
and set it aside to add to the eggs.

I greased ramekins and then filled them up

and baked them until the whites were just set.

The yolks were still a little runny
and screamed for toast soldiers.

I scream for ice cream
yolks scream for toast soldiers.

Recipe: Basic Baked Eggs


When prepping the kale, the very tip of the stem does not need to be removed as it is tender, but the tough stalk does.To easily core kale leaves, fold them in half longways and run your knife along the edge of the core. This way you only have to make one cut to get the core out. With the leaf still folded, chop crosswise into manageable pieces. When making this recipe, you’ll have a little kale and onion mixture left over. I found no problem eating it straight out of the pot. You need to serve these immediately because they continue to cook in the VERY hot ramekins.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for greasing ramekins
  • 1/2 pound of kale, chopped
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar (or to taste)
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt (or to taste)
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 6 eggs
  • 11 ounces tomato (1 extra-large tomato)
  • 6 tablespoons grated Parmesan-Reggiano
  • Toast, cut in strips for ‘soldiers’ (gluten-free toast for a gluten-free breakfast)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375F.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a pan and add the kale.
  3. Cook until kale is bright green and softened slightly, 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add chopped onion and cook mixture until the onions are soft and brown around the edges. The kale will have cooked down substantially.
  5. Remove from heat and add salt, pepper, and sherry vinegar.
  6. Grease ramekins with olive oil and fill the ramekins with tomatoes, eggs, and kale and onion mixture, adding the egg last.
  7. Top with grated parmesan.
  8. Arrange ramekins on a baking sheet and bake for 15-18 minutes or until the whites have clouded and the yolks are barely set.
  9. Broil for one minute or until cheese browns.
  10. Serve immediately with toast soldiers on the side.

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 20 minutes

Number of servings (yield): 6

Variations

I’ve made baked eggs several times since my first go around and what I love most (and actually get excited about) is how you can change the recipe. Starting off with your egg, you can play around until EGGSaustion sets in (Oh, please. You’d make an egg pun, too):

Spanish Eggs – manchego cheese/jamon or chorizo/pimenton garnish
Tex-Mex Eggs – salsa fresca/queso fresco or monterey jack/fresh jalapenos or chopped chipotles
THE ‘MERICAN – : bacon/fried potato shreds/maple syrup
Fancy Pants Eggs – sauteed chopped mushrooms/baby swiss cheese/spinach/chive garnish