Close your eyes and picture cutting into a stack of flapjacks without maple syrup on it. This sounds like some sort of unusual punishment, right? That’s because you can’t really have one without the other; however, you may reconsider this dynamic duo once you find out that what you have been pouring on your pancakes is essentially flavored sugar water. Yuck. Luckily, our trusty grocer Trader Joe’s recently released a real maple syrup you can count on. And—bonus!—it’s flavored with a unique ingredient.
Trader Joe’s just added Vanilla Bean Infused Maple Syrup to its roster of pure maple syrups. Not only does it have only two simple ingredients, but it’s also a whole new way for vanilla lovers to spice up their fluffy stacks.
As you might be able to see in the photo, TJ’s adds vanilla bean pods directly to the syrup. The vanilla lends toasty, caramel notes to the syrup that would perfectly pair with cinnamon-spiced waffles.
Like all Trader Joe’s maple syrups, the new Vanilla Bean Infused Vermont Maple Syrup is not artificially enhanced—it’s pure Vermont syrup. That’s because Trader Joe’s has extremely strict food standards, which include avoiding all the bad stuff like artificial flavors, preservatives, synthetic colors, genetically modified ingredients, and man-made trans fats. This short ingredient list is likely a far cry from the pancake syrups you grew up with.
Maple Syrup vs. ‘Pancake Syrup’
If you’ve tried both maple syrup and pancake syrups, you know that there is a clear gap between the good (expensive) stuff and absolute imposters. (See: our Eat This, Not That! Fake Food Awards.) And the difference doesn’t just come down to the flavor. The syrups are two completely different foods, and the one you choose will also have an impact on your health.
That’s because “pancake syrup”—like Aunt Jemima and Mrs. Butterworth—are made up of mostly liver-damaging high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors, and caramel color. (Maple syrup, on the other hand, is just maple syrup.) And pancakes syrups aren’t limited to just those three ingredients. Aunt Jemima’s syrup, for example, is made with 11 total ingredients, which also include water and countless preservatives.
Maple Syrup is Still Sugar
Though you should always stay clear of fake syrups and opt for options like this new find, go easy on how much you use. There still is plenty of natural sugar in this pure maple syrup (24 grams per serving). The good news? A little goes a long way thanks to that rich vanilla bean flavor.
Trader Joe’s vanilla syrup has less sugar content too than the Grade A Medium Amber maple syrup, Maple Grove, we’ve recommended in the past. Maple Grove clocks in at 26.5 g of sugar per two tablespoons, and has the same calorie count as Trader Joe’s Vanilla Bean.
How to Use it
We see the vanilla bean adding just enough to our pancakes and waffles but also baking well into muffins, scones, and banana or pumpkin bread. Trader Joe’s even suggests throwing it into homemade Bourbon cocktails as the winter continues to creep in, and we are so here for it.