Friends, you have my friend Jessie to thank for the business I’m about to lay down on you. While Jessie is very health-conscious and loves to cook and eat good, wholesome things and likes vegetables and all that jazz, Jessie also, wonderfully, is not afraid to love the holy living caca out of some junky fast food crap. The other day she was over and started crooning over McDonald’s McGriddles sandwiches. In my life, I had never had a McGriddle so obviously she described it for me: fluffy pancakes with maple syrup droplets suspended inside; scramble egg omelet thing blanketed in American cheese; and your choice of McDonald’s signature skinny-yet-greasy sausage patty or bacon-that’s-not-quite-crispy-but-still-good.
I remembered seeing a video a few years ago, maybe right when the McGriddle was first introduced, a very factory video, ladies in hairnets and conveyor belts moving pancakes around, and they said something about the “secret” being the maple crystals. Since I am still riding high on my maple syrup care package, I figured what the heck, I can spend a little syrup to make maple crystals.
You’re gonna need a half cup of grade A dark amber maple syrup. That’s what I used because that’s what I have, and then I came across a very scientific-seeming article about syrup and it said that grade B doesn’t work out so well for making crystals and so … I guess I got lucky. I know it seems like a lot of maple syrup to potentially ruin by fire but when it works, you’re left with these glass-like bits of maple sugar, dark as beautiful brown ale, and tasting like toasted maple syrup. The half-cup will give you much more maple sugar than you need for the McGriddles, but you can also add it to other baked goods for an easy hint of maple. Definitely I want to try adding some to my next batch of gingerbread and just imagine some maple crystals kneaded into sweet biscuit dough for strawberry shortcake! Can you say “Hilah is a genius”? Thanks!
One other word of warning and I’ll get on with it. Don’t try to cook your pancakes, bacon, and eggs all at the same time unless you’re some kind of magician. It’s very stressful to watch so many things at once when they are all begging for your immediate attention. I found that if I cook the bacon ahead of time and keep it warm that saves sanity. Another thing is the eggs. McD uses a scrambled egg omelet thing. I fried my eggs. Either way you want to do it, but save the eggs for last. As you make the pancakes, stick them in a warm oven with the bacon until they’re all cooked, then cook your eggs real fast and assemble the McGriddles.
Phew. I got stressed out just writing all that.
- ½ cup maple syrup
- 1 batch of pancake batter
- 4 eggs
- 4 strips bacon, cooked and cut in half (or 4 cooked pork sausage patties)
- 4 slices American cheese
- Before you start the maple sugar, line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat if you have one. Set aside.
- Pour the syrup in a small pot and put over medium heat. Bring to boil, stirring frequently. Once it starts to boil heavily, make sure you keep stirring to keep it from attaching to the pot.
- After a minute, check the temperature if you have a thermometer. When the syrup reaches about 230ºF it will begin to “calm down” and be less frighteningly lava-like. You should notice it get slightly darker, as well.
- Two-three minutes later: Once it’s gotten quite dark and just when you notice a twinge of caramel-smell, remove from heat. At that point it should be 265ºF on a thermometer.
- Pour the maple syrup out onto your lined baking sheet and spread thinly. DO NOT TOUCH IT. It’s hot as molten lead (almost). Let cool. Pop it in the fridge if you’re in a hurry. Once cool, you can peel it off the paper in chunks and break it up by smashing it in some fashion.
- Phew. That’s done. Now on to the pancakes. Make a single batch of my pancake recipe, or any recipe that will yield 8 4″ pancakes.
- If you’re using round molds for your pancakes, grease the insides with a little butter. Heat your griddle over medium heat until hot. Smear some butter around on it and place as many pancake molds as you can on the griddle.
- Pour 2 tablespoons batter into each one, top with several maple crystals, pour 2 more tablespoons on top of that. The idea is to sandwich the crystals within the pancakes do avoid maple sugar sticking all over your griddle and being a pain.
- Cook until bubbles appear around the edges AND the edges of the cakes look cooked. Remove the rings with tongs and flip the cakes. Cook another 1-2 minutes until done.
- Top with a slice of cheese, scrambled or fried egg, bacon or sausage, and another pancake.
- Eat right away! Or cool and freeze for a rainy day.
Sadly, despite what I expected, when I plugged this into a calorie counter, it’s not much better than McD’s version. Calories and fat are about the same, though this has less about 200 grams less sodium.