My mom hates the flavor of maple, but always says the one time she enjoys it is with corn fritters. The combination of sweet corn, fried dough, and maple is not only delicious, but it’s also nostalgic. It brings me back to the days of state fairs and street festivals of my childhood. This year, I’m not sure if we’ll even get to attend a single festival, so I decided to bring the food, at least, home to me. Plus, I added my own kick, of course! Enjoy these sweet corn fritters with bourbon-maple syrup.
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Combining sweet corn and maple, to me, feels like one of the most upstate New York things you could ever do. The state is known for naturally growing both, and we’ve loved taking advantage of the local abundance since we’ve lived here.
Meanwhile, the fritters themselves remind me of my summer days, visiting the New Jersey state fair or the shore boardwalks. We’d walk around with paper plates of fried dough, our faces and hands coated in powdered sugar. It’s a memory that’s worth revisiting with this treat.
Let’s Make Sweet Corn Fritters
To get started, you’ll need some corn. You can make these fritters with fresh, canned, or frozen corn. If you’re using frozen or fresh, you’ll want to cook the corn briefly so it’s soft. For canned, be sure it’s thoroughly drained.
Then you can begin to prepare the batter. You’ll mix the dry ingredients and wet ingredients separately. Whisk together cornmeal, flour, sugar and salt. In a separate bowl whisk the egg and milk. Mix together and stir until everything is combined.
Next, add the melted butter and corn, folding in until the corn is spread evenly throughout the batter. Cover the whole thing and chill for at least twenty minutes. If you are making these later, you can store the batter overnight. Don’t skip chilling. It helps firm up the batter, so it’s easier to fry later.
Frying the Corn Fritters
If you’ve never deep fried before, this recipe is fairly easy for beginners to try. Use a high-sided pot to reduce oil splatter, and get your work-station set up ahead of time. I like to arrange everything in a row, in the order I’ll be using it. In this case it was batter bowl, pot of oil, pan of sugar, and paper-towel lined plate.
The best way to make sure the oil is the correct temperature is to use an instant-read thermometer. Oil that’s too hot will burn your fritters on the outside, while the inside remains raw. While oil that’s not hot enough will cause the batter to absorb more oil, so your fritters are greasy.
Use a standard spoon or cookie scoop for getting the batter out of the bowl, and then use a heat-proof slotted spoon to gently lower the fritter into the oil, so it doesn’t splash. Add about 5 or 6 to the pot at a time. Turn them occasionally, using your slotted spoon, until they are a perfectly crisp golden brown. It takes about three-four minutes.
Scoop the fritters out of the oil and immediately drop into the pan of powdered sugar. You can use a spoon to toss the fritters around so they get fully coated. Then transfer them to the paper-towel lined plate.
Before starting each batch, be sure to use your instant-read thermometer to check the oil temperature. If it’s too hot, turn the heat down or even off for a few minutes until it’s below 325F. Then increase the heat to fry. If it’s too cool, let the oil warm up again before adding in the next batch of batter.
Prepare the Bourbon-Maple Syrup
While the fritters are frying, or in between batches, you can start the bourbon-maple syrup. In a small saucepan, you will mix the bourbon (I used Maker’s Mark) and real maple syrup. Cook this over low heat, stirring occasionally for about seven minutes.
It will thicken up slightly. Once that happens, you can turn off the heat and stir in some vanilla. You can leave the syrup in the pot while you finish frying the fritters, or transfer it to a heat-proof bowl.
If you aren’t into bourbon, or don’t have it on hand, you can try to use a different whiskey, or serve the fritters with maple syrup. I suggest warming the syrup before serving, especially if it’s stored in the fridge.
How to Serve Corn Fritters
These taste the best when served just a few minutes after frying. Once they are cool enough to handle, that’s when they will be the perfect texture. You can either drizzle the corn fritters with the syrup, or serve it on the side.
These don’t store well, so I suggest making only as many as you want to eat or serve at a time. You can store the batter for a few days, so feel free to make that in advance to save time or to fry up a quick single portion at a time.
You can eat these fritters as an afternoon snack, a side with brunch, or really whenever you want. They are sweet, but if you are looking for a less sweet version, skip the powdered sugar. Then they work well as a side dish with dinner.
Sweet Corn Fritters with Bourbon-Maple Syrup
- 1/2 Cup Cornmeal
- 3/4 Cup All Purpose Flour
- 1 Tbsp Sugar
- 1/4 tsp Salt
- 1/4 Cup Milk
- 1 Egg
- 2 Tbsp Unsalted Butter melted
- 2/4 Cup Corn drained canned or cooked fresh/frozen
- Vegetable Oil for frying
- 1/2 Cup Powdered Sugar
- 1/3 Cup Maple Syrup
- 1 oz Bourbon
- 1/4 tsp Vanilla
- In a medium bowl, mix together the cornmeal, flour, sugar, and salt until combined. In a small bowl or measuring cup, whisk together the egg and milk. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir until combined.
- Add the butter and corn and fold in until thoroughly mixed together. Cover the bowl and chill for at least 20 minutes or up to overnight.
- Meanwhile, fill a large high-sided, heavy-bottomed pot (like a Dutch oven) with 1-inch vegetable oil. Spread the powdered sugar in a flat dish, like a pie pan. Line a plate with paper towels.
- Heat the oil on medium, until an instant-read thermometer says 325F. In batches of 5-6, add tablespoon-sized spoonfuls of the batter into the oil. Cook, turning occasionally, 3-4 minutes, until golden brown on all sides.
- Remove the fritters with a slotted spoon and gently shake off excess oil. Add them directly to the powdered sugar, and use a spoon to toss and cover until coated. Then transfer to the paper-towel lined plated.
- Repeat steps 5 and 6 until all the batter is gone (about three batches). Between each, check the temperature of the oil is between 325 and 350F. If not, let it heat up, or remove the pot from the heat until cooled down enough.
- Meanwhile, add the maple syrup and bourbon to a small saucepan. Heat on low, stirring occasionally, for about 7 minutes, until thickened slightly. Turn off the heat and add the vanilla. Transfer to a small bowl.
- Serve fritters warm drizzled with bourbon-maple syrup. These are best served immediately and do not store well.
- Make ahead tip: If you need to, you can prepare the batter the day before, and fry just before serving. The fritters once fried do not store well, and should be eaten the same day. The syrup can be made ahead and kept in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. Reheat in a saucepan before serving.
- For less sweet fritters, skip the powdered sugar, and place immediately on the paper-towel-lined plate. I still suggest using the bourbon-maple syrup.
- You can use any type of corn. For canned corn, drain thoroughly. For frozen or fresh corn, cook for a few minutes until slightly softened.