Do you sprint headlong out of summer into jeans, boots, and sweaters and rejoice as the autumnal equinox approaches? Chances are fall is your favorite season. And one of the most prominent flavors of fall is maple. Although maple syrup is created when spring sap runs in the trees, comforting, hearty foods crave the luscious, velvety silk of maple on the opposite side of the calendar.
Maple syrup is a versatile ingredient, bringing with it a welcome note of sweetness to the pungent, often bitter flavors of fall (think fall greens and warming spices). It's as useful as a finishing touch to a roasted vegetable dish as it is poured over a healthy stack of ginger pumpkin pancakes — maple syrup can be cooked or consumed in its pure unadulterated state.
If you're new to cooking with maple syrup, it's simple to get started. Fire up the oven and clear the counters: Here are 11 dishes that make good use of this staple fall ingredient.
Read more: The Best Doughnut Places Across The U.S.
Maple-Cinnamon Candied Bacon
Just four ingredients and 25 minutes is all you need to make a delicious sweet-salty snack that goes well with everything from salad to ice cream. Maple-cinnamon candied bacon uses streaky bacon, a variety with more fat that is also sometimes referred to as side bacon.
Maple and cinnamon are two ingredients that play well together and are a beautifully delicious way to usher in fall. This recipe doesn't require much tending — brush bacon with the prepared maple-cinnamon sauce and then bake in the oven until it's crisp. One flip in the middle of the cooking time ensures both sides are evenly baked. If you want to spice things up, add a few grinds of fresh black pepper before baking to give your fall-flavored candied bacon a kick.
Recipe: Maple-Cinnamon Candied Bacon
Maple Biscuits And Bacon Gravy
Biscuits and the rich flavor of maple go together like, well, biscuits and gravy. This recipe is a heavenly option for a fall breakfast. Maple biscuits and bacon gravy are the hearty fall comfort food you like to have when the weather gets chilly and leaves start to fall.
One of the best parts of this recipe is that biscuits need to be chilled in the freezer before baking. If you're not a morning person, but love the idea of waking up to a maple-scented home, prep biscuits the night before and pop them in the oven from frozen the next morning. Your baking time will be a bit longer, so have a leisurely coffee while you wait. Slather with peppery gravy (and top with some maple-cinnamon candied bacon) and enjoy your weekend.
Recipe: Maple Biscuits and Gravy
Maple Bourbon Steak Tips
Looking for a warming plate of comfort food that's elevated by everyone's favorite cold-weather tipple? Then maple bourbon steak tips are for you. The marinade uses a special ingredient — pineapple juice — to brighten the dish and tenderize the meat before it even sees heat. Plan ahead and let your steak tips (sirloin or tri-tip) marinate overnight for an easy weeknight or a special occasion.
Side dishes that work well include mashed potatoes of any kind. You can also plate this with a cauliflower or parsnip purée. Add seasonal greens such as collards or mustard greens. The slight bitterness of the greens is a nice foil to the rich flavors of the maple and bourbon-based marinade.
Recipe: Maple Bourbon Steak Tips
Maple Sesame Tofu
Tofu is the perfect blank canvas to highlight both strong and subtle flavors, and maple sesame tofu has the perfect balance of both. Pull together the marinade with just four ingredients: maple syrup, soy sauce (or tamari if you're eating gluten-free), sesame oil, and sesame seeds. Use extra firm tofu for best results.
Baking is just one suggested method of preparation. Add it to the air fryer for a crisp exterior and creamy interior, or create a fall-themed stir-fry with seasonal vegetables including butternut squash and broccoli. Turn up the heat with fresh ginger and create another layer of fall flavor. Pair with basmati rice, quinoa, or farro for a satisfying meal.
Recipe: Maple Sesame Tofu
Maple Bacon Brussels Sprouts
If you're in charge of a side dish for any family potluck this fall, don't sleep on this recipe. Maple bacon Brussels sprouts breathe new life into an old standby at any holiday table. Better still, this sheet pan side dish is quick and easy to assemble for any last-minute gathering.
But the magic is in the maple syrup. Maple syrup's sweetness pairs well with the natural bitterness of Brussels sprouts and the saltiness of bacon. Garlic in the sauce adds another savory, aromatic element. Brussels sprouts get tossed in the sauce before bacon is added, then both roast up to golden perfection in just 20 minutes.
Recipe: Maple Bacon Brussels Sprouts
Maple-Roasted Butternut Squash
Fall is the season when a bounty of squash ripens, gracing our tables with savory and sweet flavors all on their own. Play up this balance with maple-roasted butternut squash, a dish that encapsulates the taste of fall.
Serve this as a delectable side dish, or get creative. Try pairing it with ground beef and adding it to arepas with a hit of cilantro cream for some Venezuelan flair. Add chilled squash to a fall salad with kale, apple, walnuts, and bleu cheese. For a tasty snack, reheat leftover maple squash in an air fryer and top with shredded parmesan cheese.
Recipe: Maple-Roasted Butternut Squash
Maple Cinnamon Sticky Buns
Are you a tentative baker who dreams of impressing guests with decadent baked goods? You'll find certain success with these maple cinnamon sticky buns. This fall-flavored recipe uses premade biscuits as a base, rolling them in cinnamon sugar and butter before baking, but the real star of the show is the maple pecan topping.
Unlike their cinnamon bun cousins, sticky buns have chopped nuts, and the combination of pecans and maple syrup is a classic one. These ingredients are combined in a saucepan with brown sugar and butter and then melted to golden perfection. Drape the warm cinnamon-scented biscuits with this sauce, and your visitors are sure to swoon.
Recipe: Maple Cinnamon Sticky Buns
As the days shorten and the air turns crisp, nothing beats a warm beverage on a chilly fall day. Make it maple — and keep it spicy — with a maple chai drink. Fresh ginger, cloves, cardamom, and nutmeg build the traditional spice base when simmered with black tea. The maple syrup adds a caramelly depth of sweetness and flavor.
Loose black tea leaves are stirred into spiced milk, then maple syrup is added. It's easy to customize this drink, adding more or less maple to taste. You can also substitute non-dairy milk if you prefer. Creamy oat milk is a good substitute with a mild flavor that won't muddle the others, but any nut milk will work.
Recipe: Maple Chai
Fun fact: Bacon in the package is already cooked. Although it seems floppy and unappetizing, it has already been cured — a cooking process — and just needs some time on the stovetop or in the oven to achieve crispy deliciousness. If you want to perfume your house with the smoky aroma of your own DIY-cured bacon, give maple-smoked bacon a try.
This recipe is not for everyone. Your smoke detector will go off as you turn your oven into a wood smoker by adding wood chips to cast iron and heating it until they smoke. You'll need to marinate your pork belly in maple syrup, salt, and black pepper for five days (and then rinse and let dry uncovered in the fridge for an hour) before it's time to cook. But your patience will be rewarded with homemade bacon infused deeply with a smoky sweet maple flavor that's worth the effort.
Recipe: Maple-Smoked Bacon
Classic Chicken And Waffles With Bourbon-Maple Syrup
Is it possible that the combination of juicy fried chicken and golden brown waffles can be made any better? Some say adding on hot honey kicks this dish up a notch, but what really makes it sing in colder weather? Bourbon maple syrup.
You'll need to commit to this recipe, as every part needs care and attention on its own to make all three shine together. Buttermilk-brined chicken is a classic preparation that virtually guarantees a succulent bird. Waffles with fluffy beaten egg whites are cloudlike. But the pièce de résistance? Bourbon and maple syrup finished with butter. Fall food perfection level attained.
Maple Pot De Créme With Bourbon Cream
Bourbon, with its underlying notes of vanilla and caramel, is well-matched with maple. Bring heavy cream and a pinch of salt to the party, and you have a decadent dessert that's the perfect end to an intimate fall dinner: Maple pot de créme with bourbon cream.
The key to this simple dessert is patience. Whisk ingredients over a slow and gentle heat until they thicken into a silky, luscious cream. After the cream sets, the bourbon-infused cream, a dusting of cocoa powder, and a pinch of finishing salt make it something truly special. Want a boozier version? Stir one tablespoon of whiskey into the thickened crema before setting.
Read the original article on Tasting Table.