Did an event at work this past weekend at which visitors were able to sample maple sap, some partially cooked down sap, finished maple syrup, and then also maple candy (plus listen to me yammer about the history of maple syrup/sugar and how to tap trees themselves next year). I made a batch of maple candy for this program and it came out delicious, although next year I’ll have to get some maple leave shaped molds to get the looks nice enough to match the taste!
Dealing with syrup, both getting your sap condensed enough and then turning that syrup into a solid, is apparently all about knowing at what temperature what boils where you are. For most of us at sea level, that will be 212 degrees Fahrenheit, but it changes if you’re at altitude, and can even change if you’ve got crazy weather conditions going on. So, the first thing to do when you’re making maple candy is to put some water in a large pot, clip on your candy thermometer, and keep an eye on it to see at what temperature water boils near you, just to make sure, then dump out the water. Take the number you observed and add 23 (so, for many of us, 235 degrees) and keep that in mind.
- You can do this with any amount of maple syrup (not ‘pancake’ syrup made of corn syrup), but 4 cups is a good amount – gives you 2 pounds of candy, which is enough to be worth the effort, but not so much that it will firm up before you can get it in molds, if desired.
- 2-3 drops melted butter or vegetable oil, if needed
Lightly grease silicone candy molds or line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Pour the syrup into a large pot – while cooking it will foam up substantially, so be sure your pot can hold at least twice the volume of the liquid. Clip on a candy thermometer, then put over high heat. Heat without stirring until the syrup reaches 23 degrees above the boiling point of water. If the foam threatens to expand outside the pot, add 2-3 drops melted butter or oil and it should subside.
When you reach the goal temperature, remove from the heat. Let cool, still not stirring, until the temperature drops to 190 degrees. Using a wooden spoon, then begin to stir at a medium speed, stirring for several minutes until the syrup becomes thicker and mostly opaque due to the sugar crystallizing.
Then, working quickly, pour the syrup into the prepared molds/dish.
Let cool 1 hour, then gently remove from the molds/dish onto a wire rack to cool and dry completely.
Store in an air tight container.
As expected, it tastes like syrup, but is crunchy without being hard. We had leftovers, and I’ve been enjoying them when I need a distraction at work!