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Maple syrup and maple sugar for this post were kindly provided by Mohawk Valley Trading Company. All opinions are my own.
I've always had a weakness for maple syrup. Maple anything, really. From maple water to syrup to butter to sugar, I love maple syrup in all it's forms. Even as a kid, I've been caught drinking it straight from the bottle. Nowadays I consume it with a waffle as a formality. Kind of like eating a chef's salad just so you can have some cheese and hardboiled eggs. Or eating trail mix for the salty M&Ms. There's nothing socially acceptable about salting your own M&Ms.
Maple sugar is made from the controlled crystallization of maple syrup. Heating and mechanical straining are the only forms of processing maple sugar goes though. It contains more trace minerals (including manganese, zinc and copper) and antioxidants than cane sugar. I'd always assumed maple sugar and coconut sugar were interchangeable in terms of flavor profile. Wow, was I wrong! I'd had maple sugar before but it had been a long time. Since coconut sugar is more readily available to me, that's what I've always bought. Both are mineral rich granulated sugars that won't add excess moisture to a recipe so in terms of the structure/texture of your final recipe, they are interchangeable but I had no idea how much flavor I was missing out on!
The sugar definitely had a distinct maple flavor. Warm and caramel-ly, like a much, much lighter version of brown sugar (but with flavor!) There wasn't a single large clump in sight like you might find in coconut sugar or brown sugar. I also loved how super fine the granules were. Dare I say it reminded me of spun sugar?
Maple syrup is made by evaporating water out of sap which increases the sugar concentration. If you've ever made candy on your stovetop, this process should sound very familiar. Similar to candy making where you can vary the sugar concentration to reach certain "stages" (soft ball, hard crack, etc.), maple syrup goes through these sugar concentration stages too (although the same terminology doesn't apply and I'm greatly oversimplifying the process). Keep increasing the sugar concentration and you'll get maple butter. Further and you'll have maple sugar.
Mohawk Valley Trading Company's pure maple syrup is made from sugar maple sap due to it's high sugar content compared to other saps. It takes 43 gallons of this sugar maple sap to make one gallon of maple syrup. You'd need twice as much sap to make a gallon of syrup from other, lower sugar varieties of sap!
Maple syrup comes in a variety of grades. I've always bought US grade B maple syrup for its stronger flavor but a few years ago, the grading system was changed. Long story short, the Mohawk Valley Trading Co. maple syrup is the equivalent of the grade B I've always loved. Now it is called "Grade A Dark with Robust Taste". Not to be confused with "Grade A Amber with Rich Taste" which has a milder flavor and is lighter in color than this syrup.
Why choose this particular dark robust grade A? The robust, almost caramelized flavor is strong enough to satisfy a maple craving without being overpowering. That means it works well in dishes that are finished with maple syrup such as over pancakes, waffles, or ice cream but the flavor also shines through for dishes that the maple syrup may be cooked into such as muffins or other baked goods.
Of course, you can also taste the fragrant maple flavor on these candied pecans, even with the addition of cinnamon. I think the cinnamon pairs perfectly with the maple and pecans.
You only need fifteen minutes and three ingredients to make these pecans. I think most candied pecans are made in the oven but I've never made them that way before. These are done on the stove and are extremely easy, even if you have no experience with making candy.
Simply whisk together the cinnamon and maple syrup then combine it with the pecans in a small skillet. You'll know they're down cooking when the syrup turns into dry granules and the pecans are no longer sticking together. Two tips - use a silicon spatula for easy cleanup and stir often to prevent the sugars from burning. Other than that, it's really straightforward!
There is a lot you can do with these candied pecans other than just enjoying them as-is. I served mine over dairy free ice cream with some maple sugar and cinnamon sprinkled on top. You could also use it on yogurt, in a fancy grain free granola, or even make them an addition to your holiday cookie tins. That's where mine are going this year! I also used them in a new recipe but I'll be posting that later.
3 ingredients and 15 minutes is all you need to make these maple cinnamon candied pecans. Try them as an ice cream topping. Gluten free, vegan, and paleo.
- ¼ C Mohawk Valley Trading Co. grade A dark maple syrup
- ¾ tsp cinnamon
- 1 ½ C pecan halves or pieces
- Whisk together the maple syrup and cinnamon until well combined. In a small skillet over medium-low heat, use a rubber spatula to combine the pecans and maple syrup mixture.
- Continue to heat and stir occasionally to keep the pecans evenly coated and prevent burning. Once the syrup has turned to a solid granulated sugar and the pecans no longer stick together (about 15 minutes), these are done and should be removed from the heat immediately.
- Allow the pecans to cool and enjoy as-is, over ice cream/yogurt, or in any of these recipes that call for candied pecans. They also make a great addition to holiday cookie tins.
- Swap the pecans for any nut or seed you prefer.