While the Northern Vermont winter continues, we’ve been in the kitchen making some maple treats. At the same time, the sugaring crew has been busy in the woods tapping the trees and checking lines. And once we have a few warm days and cold nights in the forecast, we’ll be making a new batch of Vermont pure maple syrup!
Maple candy and maple cream (or butter) are both made from one single ingredient – you guessed it – pure maple syrup. Maple syrup is primarily composed of natural sugars, water and minerals (like calcium, iron, magnesium and potassium). The trick is knowing how to get the maple syrup to the appropriate temperature when cooking, and then cooling and setting it up quickly in molds for candy, or stirring to maple perfection for cream.
There’s a real art and science to making maple candy that results in a smooth consistency that’s not overly crystallized. When you heat the syrup and start cooking, the amount of water is reduced and the sugar content is increased. An accurate candy thermometer is definitely a must when making a small batch of maple candy in your home kitchen. It’s also preferable to make candy with a family member or friend, as this is no easy task!
You’ll need a quart of Vermont pure maple syrup, some rubber candy molds, a heavy-bottom sauce pan (3 or 4 quart), baking rack and a wooden spoon for stirring. You’ll be heating, cooling and then stirring the maple syrup to the right temperature and consistency, and then pouring quickly into the candy molds. Once cooled you’ll be able to turn the candies out onto a baking rack to finish and “set up”.
If you’re fortunate to live in an area with fresh snow, you can also get a quick candy fix by making “sugar on snow”. Simply heat the maple syrup in a saucepan (to approx. 235°F), and then pour over a dish of clean snow. The maple will quickly turn to a taffy consistency, and then you can twist it off the snow with a fork (and devour). As an aside, real Vermonters serve their "sugar on snow" with pickles and donuts!
Here’s the Maple Candy recipe:
Bring one (1) quart of maple syrup to a boil over medium high heat in a heavy-bottomed saucepan, stirring occasionally.
Boil until the maple syrup reaches 235°F on a candy thermometer; immediately remove from heat and cool down to 175°F (do not stir). It’s okay to leave the candy thermometer in the pan while it’s cooling.
Once the maple syrup is cooled down, it’s time to stir with a wooden spoon for about 5 minutes or so, just until the mixture starts to become glossy and smooth in consistency, and begins to change to a lighter color.
Quickly pour the liquid into molds; cool down and then turn out onto baking rack to finish setting up. You can store candy in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 month.
Good luck with your candy making experiments!