Clarks Maple Syrup is a family-run business that offers a range of four different maple syrups. Although, unsurprisingly, the maple syrup itself comes from Canada, Clarks is based in Newport, South Wales. The business was established by Bob Clark in 2008 and Clarks Maple Syrup is now the biggest producer and supplier of Maple Syrup in the UK with more than 35,000 bottles produced every day. I was invited to an open day at Clarks but unfortunately wasn’t able to attend, but they very kindly sent me some samples and I was keen to try something from a local, family-run business.
I tried the Clarks Pure Canadian Maple Syrup No 1 Medium Grade, which retails at £3.40 for 180ml and is considered in Canada to be the crème de la crème of maple syrup, and the Clarks Original Maple Syrup, which is a blend of pure maple syrup from Quebec and carob fruit from the Mediterranean. This one is £1.98. Also in the range are No 2 Amber Maple Syrup and Vanilla Maple Syrup blended with Carob Fruit Syrup.
I decided to try both syrups in a few different recipes and where better to start than drizzled over thick, American pancakes with some crispy bacon. We’d not long been back from the US when we tried this one, so it took us right back to being on holiday. I used a Nigella recipe for the pancakes, which was super easy to whip up (I halved the ingredients and it was plenty for two of us), and I used some good quality smoked streaky bacon, which I baked in the oven for 10 minutes on a foil covered baking sheet – this is my secret to getting it really crispy and delicious, and is much better than grilling or frying. I could eat this breakfast every day, apart from the fact I’d be the size of a house and always late for work, so it’s a weekend treat in our house! The rich Pure Maple Syrup was best with this dish – the strong maple flavour and dark colour worked a treat with the bacon and soaked into the pancakes to infuse them with flavour.
On a 100% savoury note, I then tried another Nigella recipe for chicken with Dijon mustard and maple syrup and bacon. I used more bacon than the recipe suggested and served this with a mixed salad and a variation on a honey and mustard dressing where I used a bit more maple syrup instead of honey. Again, the richness of the maple flavour was lovely with the chicken and bacon and not overpoweringly sweet like honey and mustard can sometimes be if you get the proportions wrong. It surprised me how un-sticky the dish seemed compared with my expectations, proving that maple syrup is definitely a lower sugar option than honey. It did mean, however, that it came with quite a thin sauce, rather than a sticky glaze, but I still really enjoyed it and it left the chicken lovely and moist.
Finally, I came across a recipe for maple syrup frappes, so I pressed the Nespresso machine into service and whipped up some of these. They were a refreshing change for a morning drink and the maple syrup felt much healthier than the flavoured syrups that appear in shop bought frappuccinos, flavoured lattes and the like! In this one, I used the Original Maple Syrup, which did have a sweeter taste, but I think overall I preferred the Pure Canadian Maple as it had a richer flavour that worked better in a savoury dish, and I like the combination of sweet and savoury.
Maple syrup works well drizzled over porridge for a slightly less indulgent breakfast, and over ice cream or other desserts for a sweet treat. Ice cream and maple syrup reminds me of school lunch puddings where we would have bricks of ice cream with the sticky syrup and I always seemed to end up with a sticky mouth just before having to go and play my flute in the school orchestra!
I was sent a recipe for an amazingly delicious looking maple cheesecake along with my samples and I’m waiting for a suitable opportunity to make that too. Clark’s Maple Syrups are available nationwide from various supermarket chains, and I will certainly be buying more when I’ve finished my samples as I’m absolutely hooked on those pancakes with bacon.
Thank you to Clark’s for my samples, which were complimentary.