This Is My Favorite Fall Flavor (and No, It's Not Pumpkin Spice)

It's something much sweeter.

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Autumn background with  leaves and little apples

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Autumn background with leaves and little apples

Call me crazy but when I think of the change of season, ‘pumpkin spice’ isn’t what comes to mind. Maybe it’s because the first 20 years of my life, this pie-inspired flavor was an actual blend of warm baking spices (cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves) that would sit in the cupboard until Thanksgiving rolled around and my mom made its namesake pie. (That’s right, the Starbucks PSL wasn’t even a thing until I was halfway through college!) Or, maybe it’s because I grew up in upstate New York surrounded by farm stands selling syrups, candies and spreads in what is (in my humble opinion) the ultimate fall flavor. That’s right, when the leaves start to change and the temperature drops, I think of maple.

I know, I know: Maple syrup season is technically the spring. I remember seeing the silver, sap-collecting buckets hanging from the trees every March. But hear me out on this: Genuine maple syrup, with its complex flavor and one-of-a-kind sweetness pairs amazingly with everything we love about the fall. It brings out the natural sweetness in hearty root vegetables and squash, it adds deep flavor to roasts and rich comfort foods and is pure bliss baked into all sorts of desserts and breakfast breads.

The proof? These perfect-for-fall recipes.

Pancake Bread

Pancake Bread

Photo by: Teri Lyn Fisher

Teri Lyn Fisher

There's no duo more universally loved than maple syrup and pancakes and this sweet, homemade breakfast bread has all of the flavor of the classic pairing. There’s plenty of maple syrup baked into the bread – but I like to drizzle a little extra on top, too.

Photo by: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Matt Armendariz, 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

There’s no better way to play up butternut squash’s natural flavor than by roasting it in the oven and adding a healthy drizzle of maple syrup. Better make a double batch!

Food Network's Maple Bacon Grilled Cheese

Food Network's Maple Bacon Grilled Cheese

Photo by: Tara Donne ©FOOD NETWORK : 2012, Television Food Network, G.P.

Tara Donne, FOOD NETWORK : 2012, Television Food Network, G.P.

I can’t resist a good sweet-and-salty bite — so maple-glazed bacon is a must. Tucked into a gooey grilled cheese (along with a fried egg) it makes an oh-so-comforting breakfast or lunch.

FNK_PORK_TENDERLOIN_CHIPOTLE_MOP_H.jpg

Photo by: Matt Armendariz ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Matt Armendariz, 2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

If you like barbecue then you’ll love this quick and easy pork tenderloin recipe. A simple maple-chipotle sauce is the perfect shortcut for slow-cooked, sweet-and-smoky flavor.

Geoffrey Zakarian makes Maple Chai Spiced Pepitas, as seen on Food Network's The Kitchen

Geoffrey Zakarian makes Maple Chai Spiced Pepitas, as seen on Food Network's The Kitchen

Sprinkle them over soups and salads, add them to granola or eat them by the handful – these crunchy green pumpkin seeds are completely irresistible once you add a little maple syrup.

KO_FN_05MapleWalnutCheesecake_216R.tif

Photo by: Kana Okada

Kana Okada

Maple lovers will adore the rich, creamy sweetness of this syrup-infused cheesecake. It takes a bit of time to make, but is so worth the wait.

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