Thursday, March 1, 2012

Maple Sugar Bars

Maple Sugar Bars or as some would call them, Maple Brownies, is a recipe I came across in my recent issue "Early Spring 2012" of The Baking Sheet by King Arthur Flour Company.  It is published six times a year and is filled with just wonderfully, tested recipes that have inspired me for years.

It's been twelve years since my husband and I took a trip to Norwich, Vermont, mostly to visit the King Arthur Flour Company and see where I had been spending all my money! LOL!!  However, in the few days we were there, we also explored the surrounding areas and visited a maple farm (also called a Sugar bush or Sugar wood) and a dairy farm, where heavenly cheese was being made.  Our trip home was quite pleasant with our bounty of bread from King Arthur's Bakery, fresh cheddar cheese, and maple candy!

I admit, I was quite intrigued with the whole maple syrup process and want to share with you some interesting facts so you too can better appreciate this product.
  • The three types of trees tapped to collect the sap to make syrup are the Sugar Maple, Black Maple and Red Maple.
  • A syrup must be made entirely of maple sap to be labelled maple!
  • Vermont is the largest producer with 5.5% of the global supply.
  • Maple trees can begin being tapped between the ages of 30 to 40 years old and up to over 100 years old.
  • Usually the tapping begins in late winter to early spring and can can for 4 to 8 weeks depending on the weather (cooler is the best for the collection).
  • It takes 20 to 50 litres (depending on the concentration) to get 1 litre of syrup!
  • The syrup can be heated longer to create maple sugar, maple butter or cream, and maple candy.
  • Whereas, trees are tapped by boring holes in the trunk, modern Sugar Farms use a series of tubing to speed up the collection.
Beatrice Vaughan is the author of this recipe I am sharing with you today.  As she says, "it isn't a low budget treat" because of the price of the maple sugar, "but the maple wallop it packs, and the fact that the cookies stay moist and chewy for days makes it worth it."  I certainly agree and the cool weather we're having, in addition to the incredible aroma in my kitchen, brings me back to our trip and makes me long for a visit to this area again.

Maple Sugar Bars
I doubled the recipe to bake in a 13" x 9" pan.  However, you can easily divide the ingredients in half for a smaller version done in an 8" pan.
12 T unsalted butter ( 1 1/2 sticks) softened to room temperature
2 cups maple sugar 
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp. maple flavoring (I did not double this ingredient for the larger amount)
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract (I used Vanilla-Butternut flavoring)
2 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2 cups broken walnut meats, toasted in preheated oven for 6 minutes

Preheat oven to 350F-degrees.  Lightly spray a 13"x9" baking pan with a baking spray and set aside.

In a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, cream the butter and maple sugar together.  Scrape down sides as needed.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well between each addition, then, add the flavorings.  Whisk the dry ingredients and STIR into the batter to combine.  Stir in the broken walnut pieces. 
Spread the mixture into the greased pan.  I used an off-set spatula to assist the spreading.

 Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes until the edges are a golden brown and just begin to pull away from the pan.  Remove from the oven and cool on a rack.
I discovered using my "pizza slicer" is a perfect tool for getting nice straight lines when cutting cookies into bars.
 I was able to get 24 (2" x 2") bars from this recipe.

These bars are moist and chewy and each bite I am reminded of watching the large vats of sap being heated to create such wonderful products.  Enjoy!


  1. Susan, I just purchased some organic dark amber maple syrup form Canada. Sounds perfect to use for those delicious looking bars. I will take the recipe to try. Thanks!!

  2. These are for me! seems like a simple recipe for me to follow. Susan you have done it again. how's the house selling/hunting going?
    stamping sue

  3. Interesting facts on the Maple - thanks for sharing! My hubby loves anything Maple so I think I will need to give these a try!

  4. It's just a hop, skip and jump over the mountain to Monterey, VA where they have the Highland Maple Festival two weekends in March. So much closer than Vermont!!
    I subscribe to the King Arthur Baking Sheet too, and I saw this yummy recipe, but as usual, I haven't baked it. (it's now on my list to-do!!) Hugs, Barb