I’ve traveled quite a bit this year.
Florida, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Seattle, Alaska (yes, Alaska!), and Canada. A lot of miles under my belt!
I went to Montreal back in March; it was a short trip, but I made sure to maximize every second that I was there. My first time in the super-chic city, I wanted to see as much as possible. But, more importantly, I wanted to taste everything.
Montreal’s culinary scene really surprised me – in a good way, that is. The cuisine is rich, hearty, warming, while still being edgy and refined. I tried poutine (from La Banquise, to die for…so delicious!), the best braised short ribs, and a variety of desserts and pastry.
Not surprisingly, however, was an ingredient that seemed to be in every dish on every menu: maple syrup. Real, thick, dark, caramel-y syrup. Yum!
I was recently asked to do a product review for a super cool London-based company called Bags of Love. They offer a whole host of photo gifts, ranging from personalized aprons to canvas prints (it’s never too early to start thinking about Christmas gifts!). I designed my own apron, opting to use a black and white picture (taken during that trip) of the streets of Old Montreal. I loved the way the picture looked on the apron template. As the finishing touch, I added “The Moonlight Baker” text.
When I received the apron in the mail, I was very pleased with how it turned out. The picture looked great – very crisp with a nice black/white contrast. The image really translated well. I also liked the text – a simple script, in a modest (though still legible) size.
The apron is made of a soft, but durable fabric. The neck and waist ties are a simple black ribbon, which look nice with the black and white design.
A pocket and an adjustable neck tie would be a welcome addition to the apron, though I don’t feel like they are necessities. Overall, I’m really happy with how it turned out. Bravo, Bags of Love! We have a winner!
In keeping with the Montreal theme of this post, I thought I’d share a recipe for Maple Caramel Corn. It’s a straight-forward caramel corn recipe – crispy, crunchy, sweet, and just a bit savory; but, a slight twist comes with the maple syrup. It enhances the caramel flavor of the brown sugar and, in the words of Emeril, “kicks it up a notch.”
Maple Caramel Corn
slightly adapted from joyofbaking.com
1/2 cup (110 grams) popcorn kernels or about 10 cups of popped corn
1 1/4 cups (300 grams) granulated white sugar
1/2 cup (110 grams) packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup (120 ml) light corn syrup
1/3 cup real maple syrup
1/3 cup (120 ml) water
2 tablespoons (28 grams) butter
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
Caramel Corn: Preheat the oven to 120 degrees F (49 degrees C) and place the oven rack in the center of the oven. Pop the corn and place in a large stainless steel bowl that has been lightly buttered or sprayed with a non stick cooking spray. Place the bowl, with the popcorn, in the oven (this will keep the popcorn warm).
In a large heavy bottomed saucepan, stir together the sugars, corn syrup, maple syrup, and water. Place the saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Once the mixture boils, cover, and boil the mixture for about one to two minutes. (This allows steam to form which then condenses and washes off any sugar crystals that have attached themselves to the sides of the saucepan.) Uncover the saucepan and clamp a candy thermometer to the side of the saucepan. Boil the mixture over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the temperature reaches the soft ball stage, 240 degrees F (116 degrees C). At this point, stir in the butter. Continue to cook the caramel, stirring occasionally, until the temperature reaches the hard crack stage, 300 degrees F (149 degrees C). (Brush down the sides of the pan, with a heatproof pastry brush that has been dipped in warm water, to remove any sugar crystals that may have formed on the sides of the saucepan.)
Then remove the saucepan from the heat and carefully stir in the salt and baking soda. (The caramel will foam up when you add the baking soda so be very careful.) Pour the caramel over the popcorn and toss, with two heatproof spatulas or wooden spoons (not your fingers), to evenly coat the popcorn. The caramel corn will be in large clumps so spread the caramel corn onto a large sheet of aluminum foil. Then, while the caramel corn is still hot, separate it into bite-size pieces, with two forks or by wearing heatproof gloves. Cool completely and then store in an airtight container, at room temperature, for about 10 days.