To me, maple syrup and Christmas go hand in hand. Growing up, my parents would make the four-hour trek from Connecticut to Vermont to visit uncles, aunts, cousins and my grandparents, who for decades lived near Killington Resort, the largest ski area in the Northeast.

Long days of skiing and sipping overpriced ski-area hot chocolate were punctuated by delicious, but simple meals my grandmother would make. Dinner was typically ham or chicken, green beans with garlic and fresh bread rolls; in the morning we had pancakes not drizzled but dredged in local maple syrup.

Vermonters are ferociously proud of their maple syrup—and for good reason. Whereas most maple-flavored syrups are made with artificial flavor, added color and high-fructose corn syrup, real maple syrup delivers a robust, deep flavor and even contains important minerals like zinc and manganese, as well as small amounts of iron and magnesium.

As Katie Webster, author of the cookbook Maple: 100 Sweet and Savor Recipes Featuring Pure Maple Syrup (Quirk, 2015), writes: “It sounds obvious, but one of the things that makes maple syrup unique is that it comes from a forest. It is not a cultivated product. Unlike granulated white sugar or corn syrup, maple is not made from a ‘field crop’ that is planted and harvested in its entirety every year … it is the sugar makers’ reliance on the longevity of the forest that ensures good husbandry of the sugar bush.”

So imagine my delight when I was alerted by Pure Canada Maple (the largest maple syrup-producing region) that National Maple Syrup Day is just around the corner on December 17th. In honor of this awesome sweetener, we're excited to share Webster’s recipe for holiday-worthy Maple Sweet Potato Coffee Cake, which uses maple syrup in both the cake and the topping. It takes a little effort, but boy, is it delicious.

Enjoy!

Maple Sweet Potato Coffee Cake

(Makes one 12-inch coffee cake)
Active time: 20 minutes
Total time: 1 hour and 20 minutes

Streusel

  • ½ cup chopped pecans, optional
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup old-fashioned oats
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons dark pure maple syrup
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch salt

Cake

  • 1½ cup peeled sweet potato, cubed
  • 1 ¼ cups white whole-wheat flour
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup pureed cook sweet potato
  • 1 cup dark pure Canadian maple syrup
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons avocado oil or organic canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract

1. Steam peeled sweet potato for 17 to 21 minutes, until tender. Cool and puree in a food processor or mash until smooth. Set aside.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 10-inch spring-form pan with nonstick cooking spray.

3. Make streusel topping: In a small bowl, use clean hands or the back of a spoon to stir pecans (if using), all-purpose flour, oats, melted butter, syrup, cinnamon, and salt, mixing until crumbly. Set aside.

4. Make cake: in a medium bowl, whisk flours, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, salt and nutmeg.

5. With mixer on medium speed, beat sweet potato, pure maple syrup, eggs, melted better, oil, and vanilla in a large bowl until creamy and smooth. Add dry mixture to maple mixture and gently blend on slow until just combined. Spread in the prepared pan.

6. Top batter with streusel. Bake for 46 to 50 minutes, until the center is puffed and set. It will spring back when lightly touched, and a tooth inserted in the center will come out with moist crumbs attached.

7. Let cool for 20 minutes on a wire rack. Run a knife around the edges and remove sides of pan. Serve warm, with coffee.