Friday, March 13, 2009

Maple Sugar Candy

Yesterday I achieved a lifelong goal: I made my own maple sugar candy. The kind you buy at gift shops for $5 a maple leaf, the kind that's sugary and explodes with sweet maple flavor as it melts in your mouth. It turned out exactly like that, only mine is not pleasing to look at. I don't have any maple molds, or molds of any kind, so it's spread in the bottom of an 8X8 pan, and it has to be chipped out in uneven chunks to be eaten. Christopher Robin and Peanut Butter, neither of whom has ever had maple sugar candy before that I can recall, seemed to be as wooed by it as I am. And now My Hero can picture what I'm talking about when I tell him I'd love a piece of maple sugar candy in my stocking on Christmas Day, since it's pretty much my favorite treat in all the world. (For years I've been suggesting this. It started out with a few years of gentle hints. Then when those got nowhere, I resorted to pointing out, in the summer time, the maple sugar candy we'd see at gifts shops, and reminding him how much I'd love some for Christmas. (It's not as if he refuses to buy it, it's just not easy to come by in the dead of winter, far from all coastal gift shops.) Two years ago it almost happened. We were in a gift shop in Camden, Maine, and I reminded him. It was a large gift shop with lots of toys, and he left me with Christopher Robin while he went off to a different part of the store, to subtly and without my knowledge make a purchase. That Christmas there was no maple sugar candy in my stocking, but one of my gifts under the tree was a box of salt water taffy. It was an unusual gift, since I hadn't asked for it, and while I like it okay, a whole box was a little overkill... It was several months later, when I mentioned how I still hadn't received maple sugar candy in my stocking, that it dawned on My Hero that he'd made a mistake. He looked at me in confusion when I said that, and then with stinging disappointment realized he'd bought the wrong kind of local candy. I was pretty amused when I realized he thought he was getting me what I'd always wanted; in my mind salt water taffy and maple sugar candy are nothing alike, but to a boy with Illinois blood, they're both foreign candy with long names.)

It's a new sense of empowerment to know I can make it myself. If I can successfully make my own maple sugar candy, why, I can do anything worth doing.

EDIT: Here are the simple instructions, in case anyone else has the means and the desire to make some.

I copied it directly from this website.

Molded Soft Sugar Candy: This is the relatively soft maple sugar candy often seen molded in a variety of shapes such as maple leaves. Make soft sugar candy by heating maple syrup to a temperature of approximately 32-34oF above the boiling temperature of pure water (212 degrees F at sea level), pouring the syrup into a flat pan or trough and allowing it to cool undisturbed to at least 200oF but not less than 160oF, stirring until the syrup is soft and plastic, and then pouring or packing it into molds. Molded candies commonly set up in 10 to 30 minutes. Candies formed by pouring rather than packing will have an attractive glazed surface.
The recipe does not tell you that it takes hours (or at least it did for me, keeping the stovetop temp. low enough to keep it from boiling over) to get the syrup from 212 degrees F to 240 F. When you don't know it'll take that long, it really seems long. Water boils at 208 degrees F at my house, so when the syrup reached just barely over 240 I poured it into a pan. It didn't take long to cool...probably not much more than 5 minutes. When the temp reached 175 degrees I started stirring. After a little while, the candy changed color and became grainy, and then it wasn't long until it was too hard to spread smoothly. So I'm thinking if I do molds next time, I'll need to pour/pack the candy in as quickly as I can as soon as the color changes and it becomes grainy.


Laura said...

This post makes me smile! Curt adores maple candy - probably as much as you do. I'm so proud of you for making it. Who cares what it looks like -- yummmmmyyy! Is it hard? his birthday is monday, and I have no idea what I'm doing for him.

Marie said...

It's NOT hard. It takes a while. Maybe I should include the recipe in my post, in case I've inspired anyone else to try it. (=