In honor of the coming fall, I decided to make maple syrup candy. I have never done this before, but have always been fascinated with candy making. There is a great scene in “Little House in the Big Woods,” the first book of the Laura Ingalls Wilder series “Little House on the Prairie,” where the children all take boiling syrup outside to make fresh candy on the snow. Ever since my dad read me that passage when I was 7 years old, I have wanted to do it. Unfortunately, every time that I have tried, it has failed. This will be the first thing that I try when the snow falls this winter.
The type of maple candy that I made today is the type that you commonly see that shaped into maple leafs. It is grainy, but smooth, and it doesn’t require snow. It is also pretty expensive when it is store bought. On our vacation to Vermont this summer, I saw it for about $25.00 a pound, although I love it so much that I did buy a few pieces. My first batch turned out wonderfully, so now I am officially a candy maker.
To start out, pour pure maple syrup into a sauce pan. Approximately 2 cups of syrup will make 1 Ib of candy. Make sure that you use a pan that has pretty high sides, below you can see the pan that I used, and it was almost too small. Maple syrup boils over very fast, so you need to keep an eye on it. I was constantly adjusting the temperature to keep it going as fast as possible without going over the sides. Boil it until you hit “soft ball” stage, which is at about 243 degrees Fahrenheit for maple syrup. I highly recommend a candy thermometer, they are inexpensive and keep you from testing over and over again.
Once you hit 243 degrees, turn off the heat and start stirring the syrup with a wooden spoon. If you want to add chopped nuts, this would be the time to do so. Keep stirring until the mixture starts to look lighter, I think that I stirred a bit too long. In retrospect I probably would have stopped stirring when it looks like the picture below, or maybe just a smidge longer, if you wait too long it is hard to pour.
Next pour the mixture out into molds or onto a baking sheet. I lined mine with parchment paper, but I have read that you can lightly grease whatever you are using instead. You could also get pretty creative with molds, they have inexpensive candy molds at craft stores. Next time I may try using mini muffin tins so that I get a nice even shape, although honestly, candy is candy, and it will always taste good.
Wait until the candy is cool, and then break it up into bite-sized pieces. This recipe made two of the below sized plastic containers. My hubby and I have been scarfing them down, and my waistline can attest to the fact that they are very delicious!