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I found a recipe for maple scones I might try, but it calls for both 1/4 cup maple syrup and 1/4 tsp maple extract, and I only have syrup. I don't have any idea how strongly flavored the extract is compared to the syrup, but it seems like I should be able to reduce some syrup, take out some of the sugar, and be just fine. How much maple syrup would it take to get the flavor contained in 1/4 tsp of extract? I can balance the recipe from there.

(I've seen this question, which does have a comment saying it wouldn't work in frosting, but this is a bit different.)

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2 Answers 2

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I would take some of the maple syrup that you have and cook it down in to granulated Maple Sugar. A tutorial is here. Then, as maple sugar is about twice as sweet as regular sugar, substitute it into your recipe accordingly. That should help infuse your scones with additional maple goodness.

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"Pure" maple extract is made by concentrating the alcohol soluble aroma molecules, although artificial or natural maple extract may use barks or other ingredients entirely, potentially using oil, heat, chemical isolation processes, or alcohol to create an aroma compound that smells like maple.

You may be able to make your own maple extract by infusing maple syrup in alcohol, but I'm not sure how effective that will be; my own fruit infused liqueurs can take anywhere from a week to a year to mature. Just reducing the syrup by boiling it is unlikely to produce the result of the recipe you're working with, although there's a good chance it would taste just fine.

If I just wanted to avoid spending the 8 bucks on the extract, I might try making my own extract with a high-proof rum or vodka (100-150 proof considering you're just mixing with a mild-smelling sugar), but I'm not sure it would be worth the effort, considering I'd be buying maple syrup and liquor at retail prices for that purpose, and the odds are pretty good that the result won't actually be superior to a commercial product. Food producers can buy neutral grain spirits at something on the order of $1/liter, and it's unlikely that you can. They also have various techniques and equipment at their disposal that you probably won't be able to replicate.

Concentrated maple syrup is not very intense in flavor, and you're further diluting it with the flour and butter when you make scones. The function of the extract is to heighten the perception of flavor that's lost in the process of mixing with other ingredients. You may get very good results without the extract, but I'm sure the flavor will be fairly subtle and almost unnoticeable if you aren't looking for it.

With your reworded question, realistically, you're going to need more than just a quantity of maple syrup to simulate the extract, because you're most likely going to cause caramelization if you reduce maple syrup to the point where the intended flavor is achieved, and then you'll have "maple caramel", most likely, a pleasant but distinctly different flavor than the alcohol soluble aroma compounds in an extract would add.

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Are you suggesting that 1/4 tsp of maple extract contains the aromatics from an enormous amount of maple syrup, more than I could possibly get into any recipe? And what if I displace other liquid in a recipe and just add syrup, to avoid potential loss of flavor in the syrup during reduction? –  Jefromi Mar 25 '12 at 20:00
    
I've added emphasis and reworded slightly in my question to clarify what I'm asking. I'm aware of where maple extract comes from, and I'm not trying to make my own. –  Jefromi Mar 25 '12 at 22:16
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Real pure maple syrup can be very flavourful. Depending on the type of syrup you have and the type the recipe's cook had, you might not need the extract to get the maple flavour you're looking for. And if the extract is made out of maple syrup, surely reduced, and therefore concentrated, syrup should be flavourful enough? –  Kareen Mar 25 '12 at 22:19
    
Because some aroma compounds are alcohol soluble, an extract concentrates flavors differently than just boiling would. While I'm not particularly enamored of the flavor industry, I'm not so naive to think that there's no substantive difference between an extract and a reduction. Most maple syrups, including the darker "Grade B" types, are still rather subtle in comparison to an extract. Maybe that's what you want, but I can't how simple reduction would have the same flavor impact as an extract. –  JasonTrue Mar 26 '12 at 1:40
    
I assure you, the flavor of the maple syrup I have is anything but subtle. And unless I lose a lot of aroma during reduction, the flavor will include everything the extract possibly could - plus anything else that isn't alcohol-soluble (though I'd be surprised if anything significant isn't). –  Jefromi Mar 26 '12 at 2:57

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