After a long winter with snowstorm after snowstorm, spring has finally started to arrive at our Inn in New Hampshire. The daytime temperatures are now above freezing, most days, with temperatures dipping below freezing at night. It’s perfect “sugaring” weather! Maple sugaring is what our local farmers call the process of collecting the sap from our sugar maple trees and boiling it into maple syrup. As you drive along the back roads near our romantic northern New England B&B, you can see the local “sugar houses” with steam billowing out into the cold air as the sap is boiled down into maple syrup. One of my favorite things to do is top stop at a sugar house when they’re boiling and ask for a taste of the fresh maple syrup. It’s delicious!
All of this “sugaring” inspires us to use maple syrup in our cooking and the following Maple Cheesecake is one of our favorites!
2 cups ground graham crackers
3 T. sugar
1/2 t. cinnamon
6 T. melted butter
3 8-ounce pkgs. cream cheese at room temperature
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
3 T. flour
1/4 t. salt
1 c. reduced maple syrup (1 cup maple syrup, simmered 4 minutes to reduce and concentrate flavor)
2/3 cup sour cream
2 T. vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Add melted butter and stir until crumbs are evenly moistened. Wrap outside of 9 inch spring form pan in aluminum foil so that the base and sides are covered and sealed. Press crumb mixture into bottom and about 2 inches up the sides of the pan. Bake about 10 minutes. Cool on rack. For filling, beat cream cheese with electric mixer with paddle until very smooth. Add brown sugar, flour and salt. Beat until blended and smooth. Add reduced syrup, sour cream and vanilla. Beat until blended. Add eggs, 2 at a time, and beat just until well blended after each addition. Tap bowl on counter several times to release any air bubbles. Pour filling into cooled crust. Bake cake in a water bath ( pan of warm water about 1 inch up the sides of the pan) for 1 and a half hours. Turn oven off, open door a few inches and let the cake sit in the oven for an hour. Remove from oven and water bath and allow to cool on a rack. Serve with fresh berries.