Excuse me, ma’am. Do you offer tours of your maple orchard?
In 1999, I’m not sure if the people of Vermont still thought there was nothing special about their maple farms or if Dad had just driven us out to the smallest family-owned farm he could find. But the young woman he was talking to at Goodrich’s Maple Farm was definitely taken aback.
You want to tour the orchard? Like, walk around?
If possible, yes please! We have our kids with us. We would love to see the orchard, how the maple sugar and syrup are made, that kind of thing.
Well . . . sure, I guess! Come on out and we’ll show you around!
Yep. That’s about how Ray Family vacations go, for ya. Of our entire New England vacation, this was my favorite day. I’d like to think myself an intellectual that was far more interested in the history, the monuments, the battlefields. Which, don’t get me wrong, I also enjoyed.
But let’s be real here. I love food so much I started a baking blog while working a big law job with all my hours of spare time. No wait . . . let me grab my megaphone. Is this thing on? I LOVE FOOD.
The Goodrich Family could not have been more welcoming and Mr. Goodrich showed us around himself! He traipsed around the orchard with us, showing us how they tapped the trees and explaining how it takes around FORTY gallons of sap to yield one gallon of pure maple syrup. (I promise to never complain about the cost of pure maple syrup, again.) It was chilly outside, but Vermont in the Fall is 100% worth it. The leaves are changing. You can feel that first snow building up. Magical.
And to top it off, they brought us back to their sugar house and taught us about the different maple syrup grades (or levels of sweetness). Back when we toured the orchard, they still used “Grade A Fancy” all the way down to “Grade A Dark Amber” and “Grade B.” I preferred the darker stuff, which has a richer flavor but is not as sweet. My little brother was all over the fancy.
And OHMYGOODNESS, did I mention the maple sugar candy? At first glance, the tiny little maple leaf candies look so innocent. But they are PURE maple sugar that completely melts in your mouth. Needless to say, we did our best to repay the Goodrich family’s generosity by buying our weight in maple syrup and maple sugar candy.
I’m not certain if I love maple syrup because I love maple. Or if I love maple, because every time I taste it, I get to pretend that I’m living on a Vermont maple farm in the Fall.
I always thought of madeleines as cookies, because they were small, portable, often covered in chocolate, and waaaaaay too easy to put away. But madeleines are actually French sponge cakes. Although I generally have a rule against special use pans, a madeleine pan takes up next to no room and is definitely necessary for this recipe.
This easy madeleine recipe is reminiscent of an apple cider madeleine — baked with a little bit of applesauce for sweetness and spiced just right. The “maple” part of maple madeleines comes from the glaze! The maple glaze is thin enough that it soaks into the madeleines just enough to coat the cakes and keep them moist, but thick enough that it doesn’t make your maple madeleines soggy.
As a note, they’ve standardized the labels for maple syrup, so here is a nifty little cheater’s list in case you don’t recognize the new labels:
The Old Maple Syrup Label System (from sweetest to darkest):
- Grade A Fancy
- Grade A Medium Amber
- Grade A Dark Amber
- Grade B
- Commercial Grade
The New Maple Syrup Label System (from sweetest to darkest):
- Grade A Golden Color, Delicate Taste
- Grade A Amber Color, Rich Taste
- Grade A Dark Color, Robust Taste
- Grade A Very Dark Color, Strong Taste
- Processing Grade
According to most of the Vermont sugar makers, the top two grades are equivalent (Fancy and Golden, Medium and Amber). But for those of us liking the richer stuff (oh, hai there!), you’ll have to experiment. Grade A Dark Amber lovers may like the new Grade A Amber or Grade A Dark. Grade B lovers will probably want the Grade A Dark Color. In the new system, Grade A Very Dark Color and Processing Grade are basically the equivalent of the old Commercial Grade.
Any of the above are great for the maple glaze, but I always prefer to use a darker maple syrup! This madeleine recipe isn’t especially sweet, because it’s designed to be dipped in glaze or chocolate. I still used a darker maple syrup, which was plenty sweet in the glaze mixture!
PS – If you want to buy maple goods from the real deal Vermont family farm, Goodrich’s Maple Farm sells their products online. (Not an affiliate link. I am just that much in love with the idea of living on a maple sugar farm and hiking through the trees for the rest of my life.)
Disclaimer: Note that the above links may include affiliate links, from which I make a small percentage. However, I personally use the above products and will only recommend something I continue to use, myself. My opinions are 100% my own. Check out my full policies here.