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Cooking with Birch Boy Gourmet Syrups

Our syrups are good on pancakes and waffles, BUT they are wonderfully useful for cooking and making smoothies, teas, and punches. Try some of our recipes for the holiday season.

One of the best parts of being in the gourmet syrup business is having an unlimited supply of quality syrup. Because we have a very strict quality control, there is always plenty of syrup which we can't (or rather, choose not to) sell. Usually our reasons are purely cosmetic-- the label is crooked, there's a flaw in the bottle itself, or perhaps it's just the foamy bit leftover from the end of a batch. We happily put these "seconds" away in a cupboard, to use throughout the year.

With plenty of delicious syrup on hand, we quickly progressed beyond the "syrup is only for pancakes" stage, and began experimenting. We found our birch and fruit syrups to be delicious poured onto ice cream, stirred into yogurt, and used to sweeten tea or coffee. Delighted with these discoveries, and bearing in mind the traditional use of maple flavoring in cakes and doughnuts, we were encouraged to try using the syrups as substitutes for sugar in dessert recipes. The results were luscious and flavorful, and we licked our lips with satisfaction.

But before long, we wanted more. We began incorporating syrup into all kinds of kitchen creations-- sweet and savory alike. We found that birch syrup is the perfect compliment to barbequed fish, that fruit and wild berry syrups make delicious basting sauce for poultry, and form the base for fabulous salad dressings. In essence, we discovered that syrup can be used in virtually any recipe which calls for sugar, honey, or sweetner of any kind, for a moister, more flavorful, and more dynamic result.

The following recipes have been developed over the years, often during our "sap season" when we have lots of people here working, collecting sap, and helping out in the kitchen; when we might sit down to a meal with ten good friends after a hard day's work and in a toast "to the trees!" hold up our glasses of birch sap, or in this year's case, Haines Brewing Company's newest product--Birch Boy Summer Ale.

Halibut Barbequed in Birch

Too easy to be so good! This marinade is also delicious with salmon, chicken, or pork tenderloin, and can be made in the oven if you're too busy to barbeque.

    2 lbs halibut
    1 cup Breakfast Style Alaskan Birch Syrup
    1/2 cup sesame oil
    1 small onion, finely chopped
    3 cloves garlic, minced
    1 T. cumin
    1 t. salt
    freshly ground pepper to taste

Combine marinade ingredients in a glass or plastic container. Cut halibut into steaks if desired. Add fish to marinade, making sure to coat thoroughly. Cover and refridgerate 2 - 8 hours or until ready for use.

Barbeque on a hot grill 20 - 45 minutes, depending on the thickness of the cut. Can also be baked at 350 F. Halibut is done when it flakes with a fork. Serve with wild rice, lemon wedges, and fresh spinach salad for an exotic, elegant meal.

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Holiday Birch Boys

This is a birchy version of the classic holiday favorite- Gingerbread Men. But these are not the rock-hard, industrial strength Gingerbread Men that last until March; they are soft and rich, and likely to disappear fast! They are an absolute holiday MUST for birch syrup lovers.

    3 cups all-purpose flour
    1 1/2 t. baking powder
    1/2 t. baking soda
    1/4 t. salt
    1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
    3/4 cup brown sugar
    1 large egg
    1/2 cup 100% Pure Birch Syrup
    2 t. vanilla extract
    1/2 t. freshly grated ginger, or 1 t. ground ginger
    1 t. ground cinnamon

Sift the dry ingredients together and set aside. Beat butter and sugar until creamy, beat in egg and vanilla. Add birch syrup, ginger and cinnamon, and beat again. Gently stir in flour mixture, the dough should feel soft. Cover and place in refridgerator at least four hours (it can sit up to three days if refridgerated). Roll chilled dough out on a floured board to 1/4 inch thick. Cut with cookie cutters and decorate as desired. Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes, or until done. VARIATION For a more "adult" holiday treat, form the dough into walnut-sized balls, bake and coat with powdered sugar. Warning: You may never go back to molasses cookies again!

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High-Bush Cranberry and Orange Scones

We like to make scones every morning during the "sap season" to accompany our coffee and discussion of the day's plans. Having created dozens of different scone recipes, we found it hard to decide which two to include here. But making up new scone recipes is easy: just use the same basic dry ingredients, and substitute in your favorite syrup, nuts and/or fruit. If you discover a really to-die-for combination, make sure and let us know!

    2 cups all-purpose flour
    4 t. baking powder
    1/2 t. salt
    4 T. buttermilk powder
    1/2 cup High-Bush Cranberry Syrup
    1/4 cup butter or margarine
    zest and juice of one orange
    1/4 cup dried cranberries
    enough water to make a soft dough

Sift the dry ingredients together. Cut in the shortening, then add the orange zest and juice, dried cranberries, and a little water until the dough is sufficiently moist. Divide the dough onto a buttered cookie sheet and pat into circles. Bake at 400 degrees for about 15 to 20 minutes. Back to Top

High-Bush Cranberry Vinaigrette

Delicious on any salad, but our favorite includes romaine lettuce, fresh spinach, feta cheese, and- for the very adventurous- walnuts and diced apples.

    1/4 cup Alaskan High-Bush Cranberry Syrup
    1/4 cup good quality apple cider vinegar
    1/2 t. salt
    1/8 t. freshly ground pepper
    1 clove garlic, crushed
    1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Combine all ingredients except olive oil in an 8 oz bottle (such as an old syrup bottle), shake well. Add oil in three parts, shaking after each addition. Allow vinaigrette to "age" at least two hours before using.

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Ginger Spruce Tip Dressing

Sweet and tangy, we use this to dress spinach salad.
    1/4 cup Alaskan Spruce Tip Syrup
    1/4 cup lemon juice or good quality white wine vinegar
    1 t. minced fresh ginger
    1/2 t. salt
    1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Follow directions for vinaigrette, above.

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Birch Boy's Special Sunday Morning Danishes

These take a little work, but they're well worth it! The cream cheese filling is flavored with your choice of syrup, our favorites are Birch-Maple and Blueberry. Be careful though, these tasty treats might just become a Sunday morning ritual!

    1 package active dry yeast
    3/4 cup milk, heated to 105-115 F
    2 eggs, beaten
    4 cups all-purpose flour
    1 t. salt
    2 T. sugar
    1 cup chilled butter

(If you plan to bake your danishes in the morning, you will want to prepare the dough the night before. )

Stir yeast into warmed milk and let rest ten minutes. Beat in eggs and place in refridgerator an additional ten minutes or until cool.

Meanwhile combine flour, salt and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Using a pastry blender, cut in chilled butter. Pour the yeast mixture in when cooled, and gradually combine to make a firm dough. Knead until smooth, about two minutes. Place dough in an oiled bowl and let rest two hours to overnight in the refrigerator.

On a floured board, roll dough out to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut into four by four inch squares. Spread one to two tablespoons filling in the center of each square and fold corners inward, somewhat overlapping filling. Place on ungreased baking sheet. Brush with beaten egg and sprinkle sliced almonds on top. Allow to rise 20 minutes. Bake in a preheated 425 F oven, 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.

    Flavored Cream Cheese Filling:
    2 cups cream cheese, room temperature
    1/2 cup of your favorite Birch Boy Syrup
    1/4 cup flour
    1/2 cup powdered sugar

Beat cream cheese and syrup together until creamy. Stir in flour and powdered sugar, mix well. Keep refrigerated until ready for use.

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Wild Alaskan Blueberry Crepes

Don't be surprised when you look in the mirror after eating this delicacy and find that your teeth are an alarming color--just consider it part of the Alaskan Experience!

    Crepes (makes 14-16 five inch cakes):
    3/4 cup all-purpose flour
    1/4 t. salt
    1 t. baking powder
    2 T. powdered sugar
    2 eggs, beaten
    2/3 cup milk
    1/3 cup water
    1/2 t. vanilla

Sift together dry ingredients. Whisk wet ingredients together in a seperate bowl. Combine wet and dry, mix briefly. Let batter rest 3-6 hours.

Cook crepes like very thin pancakes, until just barely brown on both sides. Stack between wax paper until ready for use.

    Blueberry Filling:
    2 cups fresh blueberries
    2/3 cup Birch Boy Wild Alaskan Blueberry syrup

Combine berries and syrup. Lay out the crepes and divide the blueberry mixture among them evenly. Roll the crepes up, drizzle a little blueberry syrup over them, and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Be prepared for rave reviews!

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Crabapple Sweet and Sour Sauce

This recipe was inspired by a batch of homeade egg rolls (if you've never made egg rolls at home, you're missing out!), but don't let that stop you from enjoying it on shish-kabobs, oriental-style barbequed chicken, or in stir fry. It's a delicious complement to any Asian dish.

    1/4 cup Birch Boy Alaskan Crabapple Syrup

    2 t. soy sauce
    1 T. cornstarch
    2 T. lemon juice

Combine syrup, mustard, soy sauce and cornstarch in saucepan, whisk with a fork until thoroughly mixed. Heat over medium, stirring constantly until thickened. Allow to cool completely. Whisk in lemon juice. Keep refrigerated until ready for use.

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How to Make Your Favorite Recipes Even Better

Using syrup to make your favorite recipes even better is simple, and rewards you with new and exciting versions of old standards.

There are really only three things you need to remember when substituting syrup into your favorite recipe. The first is that syrup is a liquid and using it will result in a higher moisture content than if granular sugar were used. In sauce and dressing recipes, this will rarely matter. Even in cake or bread batters, the difference won't usually be noticable. But in recipes such as scones, cookies, puddings, frosting, or anything that needs to be very thick, you'll need to make a slight adjustment to the recipe when using syrup. Generally, this is as simple as decreasing the amounts of other liquids, but can also include adding a thickener such as cornstarch. Eight fluid ounces of syrup contains 3-2/3 ounces of water.

The second thing to keep in mind is that most of our syrups are sweetened with fructose, which has a very "stay moist" nature. When used in sweet breads and cakes this will work in your favor, creating a deliciously moist product that won't dry out as fast. But don't try to use syrup in a crispy cookie or biscotti recipe, or you might be disappointed.

And finally, fructose caramelizes at a much lower temperature than sucrose table sugar. This means that baked goods using fructose syrups, especially birch syrup, will be darker in color and flavor. Baking recipes calling for honey, molasses, and other invert sugar syrups are best suited for our syrups. If you want to develop a caramel flavor in lightly baked items, our fructose syrups are ideal.

Once you've tried a few of OUR favorite recipes, and discovered the simple delight of cooking with syrup, you'll be ready to start making your own delicious creations!

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Gourmet Birch Syrup

P.O. Box 637
Haines, AK 99827