Molly loves maple syrup as much as we do here at Eat Boutique. We make no secret about some of our favorite small batch syrups, including Sweet Brook Farm. Both are worth the inevitable sticky fingers that result from whatever you might enjoy them with, in this case some sweet potato pancakes. -Maggie
I was driving up to northern Vermont making my way to a small dairy farm in Orwell, VT. The roads were long and winding, running alongside rocky rivers and tall green forests. Towns and even places to stop were few and far between. But after a couple hours of driving, I came upon Mom and Pop’s, a little unassuming sugarhouse right off the road. Of course, I had to stop. When you run into a maple syrup house in the middle of nowhere Vermont, it isn’t even a choice! You stop.
There were bottles and bottles of beautiful amber syrup lining the walls. And in bottles of all different shapes and sizes! I wasn’t quite sure about the different grades, but a very nice woman, “Mom”, I have to assume, gave me a brief tutorial and allowed me to taste all the different grades of syrup.
Maple syrup is harvested in late winter to early spring. It’s a short season, about six weeks in Vermont, but whether you stop by a small producer like Mom and Pop’s or visit a larger sugarhouse with big production rooms and the latest technology, it’s great to get an understanding of a uniquely American culinary tradition and harvesting practice that dates back to the Native Americans. And having the opportunity to taste the different grades of maple syrup, which range from light and golden to very dark and rich, really highlights the nuances and special qualities of the different grades. The Vermont grades are Fancy, Medium Amber, Dark Amber or B, the darkest and my personal favorite.
Despite it being harvested in the spring, maple syrup is something I enjoy most during the wintertime. Whether I’m adding it to my oatmeal or pouring it over waffles, something about its rich maple flavor tastes like winter. And how about drizzling it over some freshly fallen snow? That’s definitely a old New England tradition that I have done a time or two.
Here, I’ve made sweet potato pancakes to have along with my maple syrup. These pancakes are denser than your standard fluffy pancake. But with a sweet potato mashed into the batter, they also have a richness that the other ones lack.
Whatever the grade, make the effort to get your hands on a bottle of locally produced maple syrup. And if you’re able, seek out some sugarhouses and learn more about how your syrup is harvested and produced. For more information on Vermont maple syrup, check out: http://www.vermontmaple.org/index.php
Sweet Potato Pancakes
Makes: 10 large pancakes
- 1 small sweet potato (about 8oz or 2/3 cup mashed)
- 2 cups flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 egg
- 2 1/2 cups buttermilk
- Butter, for cooking and serving
- Maple syrup, for serving
- Peel the sweet potato and cut into 1”pieces. Add the potatoes to a small pot of water and bring to a boil. Cook until tender, about 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, whisk together the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
- Once the potatoes are tender, drain thoroughly and transfer to a medium bowl. Mash with a fork until nice and smooth- no lumps!
- Add the egg and buttermilk to the sweet potato and whisk to incorporate.
- Mix wet ingredients into the dry, just until combined. If the mixture seems thick, add a little more buttermilk to loosen the batter.
- Heat a saute pan or griddle over medium high heat with some butter. Cook the pancakes in batches, taking care not to overcrown. Cook the first side until little bubbles form on the surface, then flip and continue to cook the second side for another minute or two.
- Serve hot with some butter and plenty of maple syrup.
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