Last-Minute Finds that Pair Well with a Bottle of the Good Stuff
We can’t tell you how many DIY maple syrup makers we talk to you in a year. Even during this odd year, it’s probably thousands! We can tell you, however, that in the average five minute conversation, most of these backyard sugar makers say “we don’t make much, just enough for ourselves and for gifts.”
Giving the gift of 100% pure maple syrup is a tradition in and of itself. Whether you make it at home or buy it in the store, you know just how precious it is. So here are some suggestions about how to upgrade the gift of a small bottle of the real stuff on a last-minute trip to your grocery store, liquor store or food coop and do some DIY gift basketing this year!
1. Pancake or Waffle Mix
OK, so this one is a bit obvious. However, if you are a scratch baker, like I am, you may just have a fun little time in the local section of your grocery store, at your local coop or even your local sugar house, looking for some special, locally-produced mixes. We in central Vermont, for example, can vouch for Roger’s Pancake Mix and, of course, all things King Arthur Baking.
2. Nice Cocoa Powder
The best hot chocolate can be made thusly: simply whisk equal parts maple and cocoa over heat, add milk to taste, cook to desired hotness, and serve. The better the ingredients, the better the cocoa. Purchasing nice cocoa, pairing it with your maple and writing the above “recipe” in a holiday card makes a stellar gift for kids from one to ninety-two. So simple!
3. Fancy Oil and Vinegar
Not obvious. Right? But you can make great vinaigrette using nice oil, nice vinegar and homemade maple syrup. Here’s the general idea: one part maple syrup, one part vinegar and three parts oil. You can make it more interesting by adding one part dijon mustard, one part nut butter or one part tahini. So, go to your grocery store and get creative!
4. Bourbon, Dry Vermouth, Angostura Bitters & Luxardo Cherries
OK, so this one could break the bank. Have you seen the price of those cherries? But if you want to really class up that maple gift, purchase a decent bourbon or rye, some dry vermouth, angostura bitters and fancy cocktail cherries and pair it all with the recipe for a Perfect Maple Manhattan: Mix 2 shakes angostura bitters, 1/2 oz dry vermouth, 2 oz bourbon or rye and 1/2 oz maple syrup in a cocktail mixer with ice. Pour over fresh ice and garnish with a cherry. Yep! It’s as good as it sounds.
Antique, lidded sap buckets make great gift “baskets” for maple-themed presents!