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Healthy UnHEalthy

burnt maple butter

I like to think that I’m not an ‘on trend person’, but instead someone who hovers off in my own stratosphere where one is not behind, or ahead, but just doing their thing. Of course I can’t avoid incorporating trends into my life; fabulous things dangle everywhere, from white tennis shoes to radish micro greens, and sometimes I just have to have them. 

So here I am, sharing a recipe for kale chips – many years behind trend. According to google, kale chips jumped – or crackled – onto the scene in 2013. They were a melt-in-your mouth, salty, friendly way of injecting this on trend green into our diet. I made them. We all did.

Kale has been on my mind ever since I cracked open the pizza cookbook I co-authored way back when. I’ve been developing some pizza recipes for a freelance project, so I thought, heck, I may as well look to my own work for a little inspo. But I couldn’t get past the first page and the words Published in 2005. Say what?

Back in 2005, Paul Martin was the Prime Minister of Canada. Mariah Carey’s We Belong Together was the number one song and Prince Charles finally married his life-long love, Camilla Parker Bowles. Hurricane Katrina ravished America’s Gulf Coast. My eldest son Luke turned one, and my second son, Charlie, was on the way.

I can’t remember any of the above (see line about having that one year-old with one on the way). There are, however, a few flashes of memory – a first birthday party; pizza on the menu, EVERY DAY FOR MONTHS; horrors on the radio of post hurricane life in New Orleans – but that’s about it. And as for Mariah, she lost me when she hit G#7.

Anyway, after I waded through that thick fog of memories and made it through the rest of the book, I was left with one clear observation: this book was written before the kale comeback. Before we juiced it. Before we zipped it off its stem. Before we tore it into salads. Before we turned it into pesto. Before we massaged it!

And most dramatic of all, before we tossed it in oil, sea salt, and slow roasted it to make chips. We had to wait until 2013 for that deliciousness.

So as someone who ‘hovers off in my own stratosphere where one is not behind, or ahead’ of trend, I’m making kale chips. But this time, with a little twist. Instead of oil, I’m using butter, and not just any butter, butter whipped with caramelized maple syrup. I got the idea from one of my CherryBombe magazines, where Christina Tosi (mother of the Milk Bar chain and inventor of brilliant treats like ‘Crack Pie’ and the ‘Compost Cookie.’ I trust her implicitly.) Christina makes her kale chips with honey butter. I tried it with maple syrup and it works. Perfectly.

bowl of kale chips with burnt maple butter

Start by making the burnt maple butter. This recipe makes a little extra, which is the best part. If you’re from these parts, you know what to do with maple butter. If not, just spread it on toast, or lick straight off the spoon. Prepare for the sugar hit.

1/4 cup maple syrup
8 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

Heat maple syrup in a medium sized saucepan over medium heat. Let the syrup bubble away, without stirring, until it’s volcanic, about 10 minutes. Christina uses a candy thermometer – she lets it go until 350F. I go by colour – the bubbles will start to blacken around the edge of the pan – this is what gives the butter the ‘burnt’ quality. Don’t panic. Swirl the pan and take it off the heat. Slowly, one by one, add the pieces of butter, whisking well as you go. It’s important to keep it smooth – you don’t want the butter to separate from the syrup. When everything is smooth, whisk in the salt. Pour mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer and allow to cool. Whip, using the paddle attachment, scraping down the sides every so often, until very light and fluffy. Scoop butter into a container and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

For the Kale Chips

1 bunch kale, stems removed, leaves chopped and washed
1/4 head of radicchio, thinly sliced (for colour and to counterbalance the sweetness- totally optional)
2 1/2 tablespoons burnt maple butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Heat oven to 225F. Line a baking sheet with parchment and cover with torn kale. Drizzle over burnt maple butter and sprinkle with sea salt. Use your hands to toss it all together, making sure each piece is coated. Spread kale across the sheet.

Bake for 40 minutes, or until ‘chips’ are fully dehydrated and crisp. Cool. (Don’t cool in them in the oven, like I’ve done, then forget about the chips then crank up the heat to make pizzas. Kale chips are still good singed, but it’s not ideal).

Store chips in an airtight container for up to a week. But they won’t last that long.