What is maple butter?
The name maple butter, also known as maple cream, is kind of a misleading name: there’s no cream or butter in pure maple butter. Maple butter is a spread made from pure maple syrup that has been boiled, cooled, and whipped so that the syrup crystallizes in just the right way to give it this spreadable smooth, creamy texture. Maple butter is all about controlled crystallization of sugar. So, while you are trying to minimize crystallization when making caramel sauces, with maple butter, you are aiming to force the sugar to crystallize in just the right way to achieve the correct, soft, smooth, spreadable consistency. It’s readily available in the New England area, as well as Quebec and Ontario, where most maple products are made.
Maple cream, a.k.a. maple butter is not maple-flavoured butter nor maple-sweetened butter!
Though some will post “easy maple butter” recipes that are made by creaming together softened butter and maple syrup, that’s actually not what maple butter is at all! Don’t be fooled! Real maple butter is made from pure maple syrup. It’s a maple spread that is vegan and dairy free. If you want to make a maple compound butter by mixing butter and maple syrup, that’s another option and you can follow this honey butter recipe.
What do you do with maple butter?
There are so many recipes you can make with maple syrup. You can use maple syrup and maple sugar to sweeten an apple pie. You can add maple syrup to traditional maple fudge recipes. You can use pure maple syrup to make a maple syrup pie. However, maple syrup is quite fluid and “loose” so it doesn’t make the best topping or filling in certain instances. Transform pure maple syrup into a delicious creamy thick maple spread and then you open up a whole world of maple butter uses. Maple butter is a more practical way of using maple syrup without the mess. In instances where you want a maple flavoured filling, maple butter is what you should use:
How do you make maple butter spread at home?
This maple butter recipe is the simplest of the maple syrup recipes and it’s made from only 1 ingredient, as a rule: maple syrup. The science behind maple butter is relatively simple. You just boil maple syrup until it reaches 235°F (that’s 112ºC), which is 22–24°F (12ºC) over the boiling point of water. By doing this, you are basically concentrating the sugar, making it easier to crystallize because all the tiny sugar molecules are now really close to each other in the syrup. Icing the concentrated syrup quickly drops its temperature, again another step favoring crystallization (and specifically smaller, finer crystals over bigger, chunky crystals). In the final step, you stir the mixture for a very long time (crystallization is a process, so patience is key here): eventually it will turn opaque/creamy-looking and become maple butter.
I encourage you to sample after cooling the syrup both before and after the long stirring process because the mouth feel is really quite different, and that’s how you know it’s “done”. However, avoid sampling the boiling hot syrup. It may be tempting, but it’ll burn you really badly. Hungry for more recipes with maple syrup, I have a whole category of posts dedicated to baking with maple syrup to explore.
Prevent sugar syrups from boiling over with oil
Though maple butter or maple cream is made from only maple syrup, you might have noticed that this maple butter recipe also calls for 1/4 tsp of canola oil. There’s a reason for that oil. If you’ve ever boiled a large amount of maple syrup, you will probably have noticed that boiling maple syrup has a tendency to boil over and make a real mess of your stove if you aren’t careful. By adding a tiny amount (1/4 tsp) of canola oil to the pot, the chances of maple syrup boiling over are greatly reduced because the oil helps burst the larger bubbles. This trick with oil works with boiling pasta water, though some purists will argue that the little bit of oil may interfere with the sauce sticking to the pasta. I’ll leave that discussion for another time.
Maple butter storage and shelf life
Maple butter, also known as maple cream, is a creamy spread made from 100% pure maple syrup. This spread is dairy free and vegan. Maple butter can be stored at room temperature in a sterilized mason jar for up to a month, but it’s best to refrigerate maple butter to help improve shelf life. At room temperature, the maple cream is more likely to break down and liquify: maple syrup may separate out. At room temperature, mold may also be an issue to watch out for. In the refrigerator, maple butter can be stored for up to 6 months. By the way, the same goes for maple syrup: store maple syrup in the fridge too to reduce mold production.
Maple butter recipe
Ever wonder how to make maple butter from pure maple syrup at home. This maple butter recipe will help you make creamy smooth maple butter from pure maple syrup at home.
- 500 mL maple syrup I used Grade A, amber syrup from Quebec
- 1/4 tsp canola oil
Immediately, transfer the boiled syrup to your stand mixer bowl, and drop the bowl into a big ice bath to cool the syrup down to about 60°F (15–16ºC). Then let the syrup warm back up to room temperature.
- With the paddle attachment, beat the syrup on low for a very, very long time (like 30 minutes even) until it turns opaque and the color of sesame butter (the texture on your tongue when you sample it will go from syrupy at the beginning of the process to very finely powdery).
- Quickly transfer the maple butter to a large jar and store in the fridge.
- If the maple butter separates at any point, just give it a good stir before using.
Temperature is very important when making maple butter (or maple cream) at home: use a thermometer so that you boil the maple syrup to the correct temperature (230ºF or 106ºC) and then you have to cool it down to the correct temperature (60ºF or 15–16ºC). This digital probe thermometer from Amazon is a good option for this recipe
Where to buy maple butter (if you have zero desire to make it at home)
Maple butter spread, also called maple cream, is available where other maple products are sold, but as you can see, you can also make it at home. In Canadian grocery stores, it’s either in the aisle with the maple syrup or stocked next to the breakfast spreads (jams, jellies, peanut butters, caramel spreads). In Quebec and Ontario, maple producers usually have stores where you can stock up on maple products, including maple syrup, maple butter, maple sugar, and maple flakes. Farmers markets in Ontario, Quebec, and the New England area usually have maple stands run by local maple producers where you should be able to find maple butter.
Janice Lawandi is chemist-turned-baker, working as a recipe developer in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. She studied pastry at Le Cordon Bleu in Ottawa and cooking at l’Académie Culinaire. She has a BSc in Biochemistry from Concordia University and a PhD in Chemistry from McGill University.