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COOKING WITH GALA

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MAPLE DESSERT TRILOGY

Brittle Candy:

1 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts (about 4 ounces) 

Line baking sheet with aluminum foil and brush with vegetable oil. Stir maple syrup, sugar, and apple cider vinegar in heavy medium saucepan until sugar is moist, attach candy thermometer and without stirring, bring mixture to boil over medium-high heat until temperature registers 300F, occasionally brushing down pan sides with wet pastry brush and swirling pan, about 7 minutes. Remove pan from heat, mix in baking soda, then nuts (mixture will foam). 

Immediately pour maple candy out onto the oiled baking sheet and spread to even 1/2-inch thickness. Let stand until hardened, cover sheet tightly with plastic wrap and store candy at room temperature.) 

Maple Cinnamon Cake:

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
1/2 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1 cup pure maple syrup
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350F, butter and dust with flour two 8 inch deep cake pans.  Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in medium bowl to blend. 

Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until fluffy, add sugar and beat until blended and fluffy. Gradually beat in maple syrup. Beat in eggs 1 at a time, then vanilla extract. Add and beat in dry ingredients in thirds with buttermilk in between first and second additions, then divide batter between prepared pans.  Bake cakes until tester in center comes out clean (about 30 minutes). Cool cakes 5 minutes, turn out onto racks, and cool completely.

Buttercream Frosting:

1/2 cup pure maple syrup
4 large egg whites
2 cups unsalted butter, cut in half inch slices at room temperature

Bring maple syrup to boil in small saucepan. Meanwhile, using electric mixer, beat egg whites in large bowl until stiff peaks form.  Pour 1/4 cup syrup into egg whites (avoid the beaters) and beat to blend. Gradually beat in the rest of the syrup and continue to beat until whites are stiff and cool.  Add 1 slice of butter at a time, and  keep beating until smooth. 

USE ANY OF THE ABOVE ALONE OR TRY THIS COMBINATION:

Chop enough maple candy into 1/4-inch pieces to measure 3 cups (wrap any extra tightly in plastic. 

Place 1 cake layer on your prepared cake plate, spread with 1 cup of frosting and sprinkle with 1 cup candy pieces.  Top with second cake layer and spread with the rest of the frosting (smooth top and sides.  Press 1.5 cups of remaining candy pieces onto the sides, crush remainder of candy pieces and sprinkle over the top.  Serves 12-16.

Beware!  This cake will hold for no more than two hours before meltdown of the candy and an ugly gloppy mess - Gala