There are four grades of maple syrup, all of them gathered during a six-week period between late February and the beginning of April. Syrups tapped early in that period are generally lighter in appearance and milder in taste than those collected later on. Grade A light amber (or fancy) syrup―the grades are printed plainly on the labels―is the lightest and most delicately flavored (it's shown at top right). It's followed by grade A medium amber (the most popular grade for pancakes), grade A dark amber, and grade B, which has an intense color and flavor that are ideal for cooking and baking but also tastes wonderful on pancakes and waffles.
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To make whipped cream, beat ½ cup heavy cream with 1 tablespoon sugar until soft or stiff peaks form (as desired).