I spent 25 years in pain and suffering. Pain and suffering and deprivation and denial and dark, dark sadness.
Then I tried pure maple syrup.
The world righted itself again.
And happiness knocked on my door.
I looked through the peephole, asked who it was, made sure I was wearing something (somewhat) publicly appropriate, and let her in.
We’ve been together ever since.
My life is unquestionably sunnier with real syrup. More vibrant. On Monday mornings I can’t shake the desire to try sqeeeeeeeeezing-no- sliiiiiiithering inside that old fashioned glass bottle and holding my breath, letting dark amber ooze into my nose and mouth. I picture bathtubs of thick and sticky and sweet.
I feel the same way on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
What I can’t wrap my head around, what keeps me up at night, is: “What in the world was I dipping my hotcakes in for 25 years? What filled the open tiles of my waffle? And for the love of God, what was my French toast shacking up with?
I mean, come on.
I’m thinking of penning a letter to Mrs. Butterworth and Aunt Jemima. Here’s my final draft:
Dear Mrs. B and Auntie J,
What the hell?
Sorry. What the heck?
The thing is, the syrup (pronounced seer up) I grew up with (Mom, I’ll get to you later) tasted nothing like true maple. They’re sweet and mock buttery and dark brown, pleasantly thick, but not rich or intense like a Grade A maple tapped tree.
When I lost 135 lbs (I’ve become breezy about it, haven’t I?), I switched to sugar free syrup. Essentially, a thick molasses of splenda. I simply couldn’t reconcile 200 calories for ¼ cup. Simply could not. Wouldn’t do it. Never wanted to trade calories for sauce.
And then, about 3 months ago, I threw caution to the wind and poured thick caramel syrup from Vermont (Hi Ben, Hi Jerry!) into a shallow baby bowl and dipped hot and custardy homemade Belgian waffle squares into it. Let each forkful take a good long soak. Swirled my fork around for three Mississippi just to be sure the syrup saturated each square. Sticky ran down my chin.
I licked my plate in that way you only do alone.
I moved to the counter and dipped my finger in the bottle for another taste. I ran my tongue along the roof of my mouth and made that smacking sound that would ordinarily make me cringe if witnessing someone else do it.
A flash scene of me upending it into my mouth made the corners of my mouth turn up and my eyes glaze over.
Then Daniel reminded me I was drooling.
And that was just the start of it. Nearly every weekend since, I’ve made sweet breakfasts more lovable with pure maple syrup. French toast glazed with syrup. Pancakes spongy enough to sop it up. Drizzling syrup into waffle caverns like I’d fill up an ice cube tray.
It’s lovely and blissful and…did I say lovely already? If so, a synonym for that.
Moral of the story?
Pure, 100% maple syrup is worth every single calorie. And the flavor is so intense and rich that often times, two tablespoons is all you’ll need. One of the few instances where “just a dab’ll do ya” makes sense to me.
Because you don’t need to drown your flapjacks in brown sauce, you don’t need to keep adding more when the ones on your plate have soaked up every last drip drop and become syrup-logged. Just fill your smallest bowl with Grade A maple, warm it just until it begins to bubble, pierce a pancake with your fork tines, dip into the syrup soup, hold for two Mississippi, and chew for at least 15 Oklahoma.
These pancakes embody the perfect balance between salty and sweet. The bacon is savory and rich, flecks of jalapeno add gentle heat, and maple syrup, oh maple syrup, where do we start with you? It soaks into the already moist cakes like glaze on a hot cake donut. Each short stack is tender crumbed with a sweet grittiness from the cornmeal. Make them, eat them with someone you love. But don’t share. There’s not enough to share. Oh, and be sure to use real maple syrup. I’d like to give you an ultimatum on that, but really, I can’t hold you to anything. So just…pinky swear you’ll spring for a $6 bottle of the good stuff?
You’ll be so happy you did.
Bacon Jalapeno Cornmeal Pancakes
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal cornmeal
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 large egg
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons sour cream
2 tablespoons jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
2 slices bacon, pan fried and chopped
3 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
Pan fry the bacon until crisp. Drain on a paper towel lined plate, and when cool enough to handle, crumble them into small pieces. Clean out your skillet.
In a medium bowl, whisk the cornmeal, flour, salt, and sugar. Set aside. In a large bowl whisk the egg with the milk. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just combined. Stir in the sour cream, followed by the jalapeno, bacon, and parmesan cheese.
Ladle ¼ cup of batter onto a nonstick pan coated with oil. Cook the pancakes for about 4 minutes per side. Flip when bubbles begin to form and pop on the top and sides of each.
Serve with warm, 100% pure maple syrup and additional strips of bacon.
Nutrition info for 1 serving (1/3 of entire recipe): Calories: 291, Fat: 9g, Carb: 40.5g, Fiber: 2g, Sugars: 8.6g, Protein: 11.7g
Maple syrup… maple syrup. Too good for words.
HIt your mom up about that. It’s almost child neglect!
Waitaminute – aren’t you from New England?? Sacrilege.
Wow this would make a really perfect breakfast for me.
I grew up with real Maine maple syrup. Everyone in my neck of the woods had tapped maples and you could smell the stuff being reduced the same time every year. You brought back some really great memories. Didn’t even taste the fake stuff until I went to a restaurant for the first time for breakfast. Looked up at the waitress and asked..”what the heck is this!?” Ain’t you got any syrup?”. Can you believe a restaurant in the middle of maple syrup country HAD NO REAL MAPLE SYRUP. Oh well, glad you finaly found it. Oh ya and that stack looks Delicious! :)
Real maple syrup really is a completely different food than all of the other syrups you mentioned. Thanks for giving me another excuse to soak anything in real syrup.
mmmmm bacon and maple syrup. I love that combo..so I am sure that I would love this recipe!
are you even serious? mmmm.
Looks so divine! In the picture, it appears to be wheat flour with the brown color, but the recipe doesn’t specify wheat or white. Which do you use?
Hi Melissa! Yes, I used wheat, but I do think all-purpose white would yield a lighter, better texture for the cornmeal to really come through :)
I too, was deprived for 23 years without real syrup. I don’t know how I was eating that sugar free crap. Real = best.
Wow. Woooow. That looks simply UH-MAY-ZING. I haven’t taken the “real maple syrup (or, as we in Atlanta pronounce it, “Surr-up”) plunge yet… the thought of all that thick, gooey deliciousness still frightens me to my core. I’ll make it there one day. Baby steps… baby steps. You might just push me over the edge, though.
Maple syrup is a special occasion syrup for me. Is it funny to say that I actually have a “special occasion syrup”? geez…
But I have said it and will say it again- whoever thought up the idea of putting bacon on/in pancakes? They need a medal.
These look delicious! I’m with you on the pure maple syrup! When I was a kid, I remember tasting it and thinking it was gross (b/c I was used to the cheap high fructose corn syrup variety)…but several years later I tried again and fell in love :)
Wow, I have no idea how you came up with this combination, but it sounds amazing! I was a fan of Aunt J and Eggos as a kid but I know exactly what you mean – tastes NOTHING like the real stuff!
Dear everything Andrea makes, you look amazing. Love, Jess.
On a side note- did you know you can get delicious organic maple syrup at T.J. Maxx? I mean really what can’t you get there. Also, have I mentioned I love T.J. Maxx? Oh, and you. :)
I.LOVE.TJMaxx. Love love love love love.
Pure maple syrup is like a kiss from the gods, and I say that coming from a family who gives maple syrup made from Canadian relatives as Christmas presents.
I’m with you on the real maple syrup. What a difference from the fake bottled crap!
I totally agree! There is really nothing quite like maple syrup. I could legitimately eat pancakes drowned in syrup every day :) I love this change up on a classic!
Oh my goodness…that looks wondeful!! :) The sweet salty combination gets me every time!
I love the idea of these! Going on my list of “try as soon as possible” Thanks!!
This could be a commercial for syrup ;). I think I shall go buy some now!
I totally agree. I used to eat the sf syrup when I was losing the weight I put on in college, but real maple syrup is unbeatable!
And ps: we must be on the same wavelength. I made bacon cornmeal pancakes this weekend, too :)
Amazing. You really need to write a book so I can read it and then tell all my friends “I read her when…” Also, because I love the way you write – so talented and funny and heartfelt and yeah, I love it.
Plus, bacon in pancakes? You’re a straight up genius.
I think I get it now! You use quality ingredients and they’re so much more satisfying than fake stuff. That’s also what I thought after studying your grocery purchases for the Hunger Challenge. Come to think of it I didn’t start putting on weight until trying to cut back on expenses by buying cheap foods.
I love your first two sentences! :)
You are so right that a little bit of the real thing (maple syrup, butter, bacon, cheese, etc) is soo much better than lots of a fake substitute
I can’t wait to try these! :)
yum!!! i love cornmeal. i bet it’d be great in pancakes!
Why oh why have I never thought to put bacon IN my pancakes…genious!
I have a cousin who’s family used to make their own maple syrup. They would give samples to my grandpa…I always wondered why his pancakes tasted better…now I know:)
Ahhh I bet that maple syrup you had was simply the best. At home in Massachusetts, my family always gets the best bottles from Vermont. I miss it :)
I love it when syrup “accidentally” gets on my bacon or sausage, and I’ve always put it on my cornbread. This sounds like the perfect marriage of the two.
My dad used to get seriously angry when my mom bought anything other than pure maple syrup. He thought pancake syrup was crap, and didnt care how much cheaper it was. :)
These look amazing, cornmeal pancakes are a thing of genius arent they? I cant beleive I’ve never added cheese to them. Way to drop the ball Leah.
There is nothing quite like sweet and savory all in the same meal. Especially when it involves good, real ingredients. I feel the same way about turkey bacon that you feel about fake syrup. BTW, did you know that when maple syrup is tapped from the tree it’s actually clear? It’s not until it’s boiled down that it gets its color. I’m a nerd, but I thought that was interesting. :)
Love love love you for the factoid. You know I love learning :)
wow, wow, wow! this is a perfect ‘breakfast for dinner’ candidate. maybe for tomorrow night!
I JUST learned to put vanilla in my french toast batter, so clearly I need to up the ante on brunch options. These look great!
Also, here’s a secret: I keep a jar of pure maple syrup (see-rup, yes!) in my desk drawer at work for my oatmeal. Occasionally, when no one is looking, I take a tiny swig.
I’m less so worried my boss will think I’m sipping nips at work and more worried someone will see me downing maple syrup…
I just laughed out loud :) Love picturing you swigging syrup!
I LOVE maple syrup… but I’m not going to lie, I love ‘butter’ syrup from Aunt Jemima, haha!
ooohh, these look fantastic!! The real stuff with syrup is pretty much amazing. It’s a bit pricey but so worth it.
I am loving the sweet savory spicy thing you have going here! YUM!
Wow, how original! I love trying new pancake recipes!!! I think I shall have to try these! :)
Ok so first off, how, in all that is right and holy and sane, did you grow up in New England of all places and NEVER have real maple syrup?!?! Heck I have 4 within a 5 mile drive of my house! (but then again I live towards Western Mass so that’s to be expected). There are sugar houses peppering the entire North East coast, filled with the amazing aroma of pure maple steam (it’s like a facial from heaven), more grades and colors of maple than should be allowed, maple sugar and my personal favorite, maple COTTON CANDY! I feel so very sorry for you Andrea. I really truly am sorry and I’m glad you have seen the light.
Lastly, these pancakes? That you put bacon and all manner of wonderment into? I love them. I want to use them like a pillow that’s how excited I am about them…and then I’ll eat the pillow. The end
P.S. it is the very end of maple sugaring season right now. You just missed it. I say you take a trip out here next year in Feb just to partake of it’s awesomeness.
Lindsey, I’m so glad you understand the gravity of the situation. I’m currently trying to sue my mother. Will let you know how it goes :)
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Wow, those look amazing! I’ve never had the real syrup but from the sound of it I’m gonna have to look for some. Thanks for sharing!
It’s nearly 2 AM and I happened to “stumble” (literally, stumble upon!) your blog and well that was about an hour ago and I’m still so thankful I did! I think I’ve looked through every single one of your recipes and am SO excited to start trying some out. If only I had enough energy to begin cooking right now! Ill just have to settle for dreaming about your delicious meals tonight!
I read this and immediately added the ingredients to my fresh direct order! I texted my husband that there was no other choice– we were having these pancakes on Sunday! YUM!!! Thinking about topping with some chives, if that’s not to crazy!
I was going to make these last night but had a hankering for fried chicken so I made the skinny taste version you have on your site..delish…but I made these this morning….Oh man so good! Really met my desire for something savory this morning! A touch of maple syrup was perfect..yum! XOXOXOX