I met Brad of Hillcrest Family Farms during an American Soybean Association event earlier this year. Brad and his wife Nicole operate a family farm where they produce corn, soybeans, wheat, and alfalfa. They also own and operate a dairy in addition to their farming operation. Maple syrup began for Brad and his family as a hobby but now has evolved into a family tradition. I was in awe at Brad’s posts on social media sharing about how they have to cook the syrup to concentrate it into syrup. Sap from the trees is apparently like water but once boiled for a few days, it turns into syrup. Who knew!? For this feature, I decided to take a Rohrich Family favorite, waffle cookies, and combine them with a maple bacon bar. These cinnamon maple bacon waffle cookies are like a maple bar meets a cinnamon roll with bacon!
MAPLE SYRUP: HILLCREST FAMILY FARMS
We started making making maple syrup as a way to have family time in the outdoors in the spring. It starts usually in the first week of March and lasts a few weeks depending on the weather. We needed to freeze at night and get up to around 45 or 50 degrees during the day. We drill holes into maple trees usually the hard maples are the best. We found in the taps and hang a bag on the tree. We pick up daily sometimes twice a day install this app into an old bulk tank off our Dairy.
Once we have enough SAP we start cooking out in the woods under sap shack. We have an old outdoor wood burning stove that we converted over to a boiler wood fired to evaporate the water from the SAP. We don’t add anything it’s just pure maple sap boiled to syrup. Also the color of the syrup gets darker as the season progresses. I prefer the darker syurp as I think it’s a little sweeter. But most people prefer the early syrup because of the light brown color. It takes approximately 35 – 45 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup. It depends on the year and the sugar content of the sap.
Our family as well as my dad two uncles sister and many nephews and nieces as well as cousins come to help. It usually involves kids riding four wheelers adults having wine and beer around the fire and many meals cooked for on this sap shack. We don’t really sell it but rather choose to give it away to our friends family churches youth groups Boy Scouts Girl Scouts and FFA organizations to be use for usually pancake breakfast.
Some of our favorite uses for the syrup is as a sweetener and pecan pie or in coffee as well as over ice cream or popcorn. Obviously pancakes and waffles are the norm. We’ve also made candy out of the over the years but have yet to master that one. I have a uncle that is diabetic and the syrup has actually help him. Another favorite is to put it over ice cream or popcorn.
We have shipped it all over the US to our friends during the holidays and even have it in Ireland. We have thought many times about making this a profitable business but then we think that we would lose the fun factor and the family factor.
My mother-in-law makes these amazing Chocolate waffle cookies I’ve shared on the blog before. These cookies are great because they don’t heat your kitchen up. They are made in your waffle maker! I decided to develop a new recipe for the waffle iron, this one is like a maple bar meets a cinnamon roll topped with bacon.
- Cinnamon Cookies
- 2 sticks butter (1 cup), room temperature
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup (use pure)
- 3 eggs
- 2 cups flour
- The Maple Glaze
- 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 1/2 cup maple syrup + 2 tablespoons
- pinch of salt
- 4 slices of bacon, cooked and chopped
- In a stand mixer or with handheld mixer, cream together butter and sugar at medium speed for 3-4 minutes. Add salt, cinnamon, and maple syrup continue mixing on medium. Add eggs one at a time, mixing until well incorporated. Set mixer to stir or low, add flour. Mix until well incorporated. Finished batter should have consistency of cookie dough.
- Preheat waffle iron. Once ready, spray with cooking spray and spoon out tablespoon sized portions of dough into each division of the waffle iron. Bake for 2-3 minutes or until golden brown. Remove to a wire rack to crisp up and cool.
- While waffle iron is warming up, make glaze. Whisk together the powdered sugar and maple syrup until smooth. Add a pinch of salt. Set aside.
- Once cookies are cooled, dip the top of each cookie into the glaze and return back to the wire rack. While glaze is still wet, sprinkle diced bacon over the top and let the glaze set.
This post is part of my Thirty Days of Food series where I am writing about food and farming for the entire month of November, to find out more about it all or how to follow along, visit my Thirty Days of Food page to find more great recipes with farmer features!