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​​How to Make Maple Cream, the Most Luxurious of All Maple Products

A love letter to maple cream and a plea for you to try its one-ingredient, buttery, creamy, goodness. 

Published Nov. 8, 2022.

Every fall you can find me ransacking sugar shacks throughout New England, giddily collecting maple products to put in coffee, spread on toast, and eat out of hand.

Maple sugar? Amazing. Maple cotton candy? Even better. Maple cream?

The best

I love any and all forms of maple syrup, but maple cream (also known as maple butter) is my absolute favorite. The sweet spread is deliciously silky and buttery, and it packs a powerful maple wallop. Rather than soaking into pancakes completely or quickly dribbling off the side as syrup does, maple cream sticks where you put it. It guarantees maple flavor in every bite.

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If you haven’t tried it, take it from this proud New Englander: Maple cream is worth seeking out. There’s no need to trek to Vermont (though it’s wonderful) to get yourself a jar. With our recipe, you can make your own.

What is maple cream? 

Years ago, Cook’s Illustrated Deputy Food Editor Andrea Geary investigated the condiment when working on our DIY Cookbook. Curious about how much butter and cream this luxurious concoction contained, she looked at the ingredients listed on the jar and found only one thing: pure maple syrup.

Maple cream is simply maple syrup, cooked to 235 degrees, cooled to 100 degrees, and then beaten with a spoon until very fine crystals form, turning the syrup thick, pale, and opaque.

It’s decadent, thick, and spreadable—essentially, whipped maple syrup.

Andrea’s recipe makes 2 (!) entire cups of this maple spread and can last for up to two months, making it a wonderful gift or a delightful treat to keep for yourself.

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How to Use Maple Cream

Maple cream is a delicious topping for toast, scones, biscuits, or waffles. It’s also great smeared between two cookies as a maple cream filling or in a peanut butter sandwich. If your batch comes out stiffer than you’d like, you can roll it into small balls and coat them with finely chopped nuts—instant confections.

One friend even added that she uses the jar I gave her as a condiment for waffle-based breakfast sausages sandwiches. And I will be trying this immediately. 

How to Make Maple Cream

When I talked to Andrea about her recipe, she noted that although the ingredient list is short, that doesn’t mean it’s exactly easy. 

The challenge lies in the beating of the cooled syrup, which requires, as she said, “strong arms, a sturdy grip, a resolute nature, and—if possible—a similarly equipped assistant to share stirring duties when the going gets tough.”

(I caution you, though: Don’t be tempted to take the easy way out and put the syrup in your stand mixer. One colleague burnt out her mixer’s motor attempting this.)

But something about tirelessly working to enjoy a sweet treat harkens back to a simpler time and makes it all worth it, right?

Anyway! Here is the recipe I am begging you to try, along with some helpful reference photos and tips to aid you along the way.

Maple Cream Recipe

Makes about 2 cups 

  • 3 cups real maple syrup 
  • ¼ teaspoon vegetable oil (optional) 
  • Pinch salt (optional)

1. Set medium saucepan in bowl of ice and scatter more ice around sides of pan. Bring syrup, oil, if using, and salt, if using, to boil in second medium saucepan over medium heat and cook, without stirring, until syrup registers 235 degrees, 16 to 18 minutes. Quickly pour hot syrup into prepared saucepan and let cool, without stirring, until syrup registers 100 degrees, about 15 minutes. 

2. Remove saucepan from ice bath and stir syrup vigorously with wooden spoon until it turns thick, pale, and opaque, about 30 minutes. Quickly transfer cream to jar with tight-fitting lid. Maple cream can be stored at room temperature or refrigerated for at least 2 months.

Saucepan nestled in a metal bowl full of ice.
It’s wise to keep an eye on the maple syrup once it’s boiling (if you get overconfident and walk away, the syrup might boil over), so we recommend setting up the ice bath before you start heating the syrup.
A digital instant read thermometer registering 235 degrees in a sauce pan full of maple syrup.
Adding the vegetable oil and salt are optional, but they serve different purposes: The oil keeps the foam down during boiling, while the salt brings some balance. Whether or not you use them, Andrea recommends monitoring the temperature for 60 seconds after the thermometer first hits 235 degrees, just to be sure the entire contents of the pan are at the precise temperature.
Wooden spoon stirring thickened, lighter maple syrup in a metal saucepan.
Stirring is what turns the syrup into cream. Andrea notes its important to think of it as a marathon, not a sprint; speed isn’t as important as maintaining a constant, steady pace. When the maple cream starts to lose its shine and takes on the texture of a thick but pourable batter and is the color of tahini, stop stirring. This process takes up to 30 minutes, so split the task with a friend if you can!
Flip-top mason jar full of thick, light brown maple cream.
When the maple cream finally reaches the right color and texture, act quickly! It will remain pourable for only about 30 seconds. As it continues to cool, it will take on the texture of peanut butter.

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