I just received my yearly batch of maple syrup from Circle C Maple Farm, a small family business run by Joe and Cathy Cicero on their farm in New York State. I’ve been ordering their organic maple syrup for the last few years, and as soon as my order came in, I knew what I needed to do: make pancakes.
Before I get to the recipe, here’s the backstory on the maple syrup that inspired me to make them. Circle C Maple Farm is nestled in the Shawangunks Mountains “The Gunks.” My friend Jen Ward is Joe’s niece, and she spread the word about Circle C to all her fancy friends (like me) in New York City, and that’s how I first got ahold of some.
The story of Circle C is that 18 years ago, owners Joe and Cathy looked around their land and realized they had an abundance of maple trees. They started “sugaring,” siphoning the syrup from the trees and cooking it down to make a useable product, but they they only gave it to friends and family. In 2010, they stepped up production and made enough to sell to other people.
Luckily for Joe and Cathy, Mother Nature offered up two very bountiful maple seasons, so these days there’s plenty of syrup to go around. The syrup can be purchased directly from Circle C, in sizes from 1/2-pint to a gallon. The syrup comes in three grades: Grade A Medium Amber, which has a light color and delicate maple taste; Grade A Dark Amber, which is a darker brown and has a robust maple taste; and finally, my favorite, Grade B Extra Dark, the strongest and darkest grade of maple, that’s good for both cooking and table use. I’ve tried all three grades, and they pack a buttery, caramel flavor, which transformed my pancakes into magical discs of flavor.
Now, here’s that pancake recipe. In honor of Joe’s niece, Jen, who’s a health coach and student of Traditional Chinese Medicine, I made these pancakes gluten-free. I think she’d approve. The sweetness comes from roasted sweet potatoes, coconut oil, vanilla, and cinnamon. There’s no sugar in the pancakes, so the taste of the maple syrup poured over them at the end can really shine through. Give them a try!
Recipe: Sweet Potato Pancakes with Maple Syrup
Makes 8-10 silver dollar-size pancakes
1/4 cup buckwheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Dash of cinnamon
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup roasted sweet potatoes, cooled and mashed
1 egg, whisked
7 tablespoons milk (any kind)
2 tablespoons coconut oil, plus extra for cooking the pancakes
Maple syrup, for garnish
Whisk the dry ingredients together in a large bowl, then add the wet ingredients and whisk to incorporate.
Heat a skillet over medium heat for a minute or two. Add the coconut oil, and when it starts to shimmer, drop the batter into the pan in large spoonfuls, leaving a few inches of space in between. When the tops of the pancakes start to bubble, leaving behind tiny holes, gently flip the pancakes with a flexible spatula. When they are browned on the second side, transfer to a plate.
Serve warm and top with maple syrup.
Louisa Shafia is the author, most recently, of The New Persian Kitchen, a book of healthy Mediterranean and Silk Road-inspired recipes. See Louisa’s cooking videos and her schedule of upcoming events at www.lucidfood.com.