- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Just as the snow is turning to slush and you no longer see your breath outdoors, maple syrup producers are getting ready to tap their trees. If you love the sweet, rich flavor of maple syrup, you’re probably anticipating the harvest.

Many areas celebrate the March sap run, and you can be sure pancakes are a highlight of the festivities.

However, you don’t need to live in maple-sugaring territory to enjoy pancakes topped with maple syrup. You can easily make this wonderful indulgence for two. Choose a simple batter or one enhanced with spices and fruit.

Consider the grade of syrup as well, since that also adds distinctive flavor to the pancakes.

Fancy grade has the lightest color and most delicate flavor. Grade A maple syrup comes in two styles: medium amber, which is mild, and dark amber, which has a more pronounced maple taste. I recommend using the fancy or either Grade A syrup in the pecan-studded maple syrup recipe that follows. Although grade B maple syrup is also produced, you’re not likely to see it in supermarkets. But if you do, try it in a recipe for barbecue sauce, where the bold flavor comes through.



Don’t substitute maple-flavored syrup for the real thing. It’s not comparable. Instead buy the smallest container of real maple syrup you can find and refrigerate or freeze the leftovers.

Banana pancakes with pecan-studded maple syrup

Makes 2 servings.

1/2 cup milk

2 tablespoons melted butter, divided

1 egg, beaten

3/4 cup flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 tablespoon sugar

1/16 teaspoon nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 banana, sliced 1/4-inch thick

Pecan-studded maple syrup (follows)

Combine milk, 1 tablespoon melted butter and egg in a large bowl. Combine flour, baking powder, sugar, nutmeg and salt in a small bowl. Dump dry ingredients into milk mixture. Stir just to combine. Don’t beat.

Heat remaining 1 tablespoon melted butter in large, nonstick, heavy-bottomed skillet. Arrange banana slices to form 6 clusters. You may have to do this in two batches, depending on the skillet size. Pour batter over banana clusters to cover.

Cook pancakes over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes or until bottom sides are golden brown. Flip and cook second sides. Remove from skillet. If necessary, keep warm while preparing second batch.

While pancakes are cooking, prepare maple syrup. Stack 3 pancakes to a serving in each of 2 plates. Pour on syrup or serve it on the side. Serve immediately.

Each serving has: 405 calories; 17.5 grams total fat; 12 grams protein; 23 grams carbohydrates; 146 milligrams cholesterol; 188 milligrams sodium and 2 grams dietary fiber.

PECAN-STUFFED MAPLE SYRUP:

1 tablespoon butter

2 tablespoons coarsely chopped pecans

1/3 cup maple syrup

Melt butter in a small pot. Add pecans and cook over low-medium heat for 3 minutes to lightly brown pecans. Pour in maple syrup and heat through.

Each serving has: 218 calories: 11 grams total fat; 0.5 grams protein; 34 grams carbohydrates; 15.5 milligrams cholesterol; 5.5 milligrams sodium and 0.5 grams dietary fiber.

• Bev Bennett is the author of “30-Minute Meals for Dummies” (John Wiley & Sons).

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