Maple 3 (or 4) Ways / by Julie Schumacher

Once we settled on Something on the Side as our menu inspiration, I got stuck feeling like I was coming up with sauces and more sauces for desserts. I thought about fall and maple syrup and sighed that it was kind of just a really sticky sauce. I wondered about reimagining maple syrup and stumbled upon a recipe (Test Kitchen, no less) for maple cream (think soft butter but maple-y). The recipe requires technical effort and physical effort and I got excited to boast about how damn good it was and by default how damn good I was. I immediately began searching for a mini waffle stick maker, settling on this gem.

And then I made it and screwed it up. I had some issues with the "when it starts to stop being shiny and looks like tahini" element and would up with caulk. Hard, tasty caulk. But I did it in advance! Two days in advance! No problem.

So now it's the night before the salon. And I try it again. And screwed it up again. More caulk.*

This whole maple maelstrom became an exercise in really messing stuff up, panicking, rebooting, screwing more stuff up and then having time heal things.

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So now it's the morning of. Serious t-minus time. Menus are printed. I have a hair appointment. I need something maple-y that could pass as cream-y. And, y'all, after screwing up the maple cream over and over (Grade A syrup ain't cheap) I needed an easy win.

I found this maple cream cheese frosting on The Merry Thought. I know how to make frosting. Cream cheese makes everything good and, dang, that sounds good. It is. It is so, so good. Made for a very dessert-y waffle. I feel better just reading the recipe and head to Whole Foods.

And of course, with that tiny victory comes ambition. It doesn't take much for me to get overconfident again.

I wanted to add a kick of color. So I googled "best stuff to put on a waffle." This Food52 recipe for blueberry maple butter popped up. The richness of the butter, sweetness of the maple syrup and punch of tart blueberry was a spreadably yum way to liven up the color palette and taste palette. I grab some blueberries as I sprint through produce.

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This stuff? So easy. And purple. And good.

I should also mention that I had purchased an obscene amount of bacon in a last minute freak out. Because maple and bacon makes so much sense at 8 in the morning when one is talking to oneself while driving towards the store.

Bacon's having a moment in donuts and jams and seemed a lovely savory addition to the two super sweet spreads. This was a great and easy option from The Clever Carrot. I way over cooked it and hacked it to bits. 20140924_forth-46

The only thing left was waffles. How could I not make Waffles of Insane Greatness (really, that's 100% the name)?

I prepped the dry ingredients ahead of time in a ginormous bowl and had the oil/vanilla in a small tupperware, sugar in a smaller tupperware, eggs and buttermilk in the cooler. So I made them on site (be sure to let the batter rest for 30 minutes!) which was capital-I-Insane but oh so worth it. I wouldn't necessarily use this recipe on a weeknight when Breakfast For Dinner is a fast way to deal with no cooking mojo but for this night, and these ladies, it was the right choice.

So disaster causes panic which yields redos which forces improvisation (not my strong suit in the kitchen) and results in a fab little waffle bar with maple-glazed bacon, blueberry maple butter, and maple cream cheese frosting. Turned out pretty great, I'd say.

*The real moral of the story is that panic isn't always necessary but, damn, it's good to have backup. That night, after the salon, I came home to maple cream. Delicious, perfect maple cream that just needed some time to chill out. Ah well, it was a hit that weekend (with this bread). I think, though, that if I knew all of this then, I'd still go with these three options. What's better than something on the side? Somethings on the side.

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