I am over winter. If you're on the East Coast, you probably are too. We're all pretty much stir-crazy. The kids don't go outside at recess, and at 15 degrees, the fun of weekend sledding and snow forts has long passed.
Last weekend, though, I found one last fun thing to do in the snow. It's easy. It's yummy. It's quick. If you have kids, it'll make you an instant hero. If you don't, well, that's more for you.
The idea is simple. Boil maple syrup, then pour thin ribbons of it onto (clean!) snow. Eat.
I guarantee the yumminess of this endeavor, even for those who, inexplicably, may not be huge fans of maple syrup. I thought the toffee would be disgustingly sweet, but the boiling gives the maple syrup a caramel flavor. You do need a candy thermometer. But basically, you can't lose.
1. Choose your pan.
It should be deeper than you think you need, because the boiling syrup bubbles up and creates a large volume of very hot foam.
Also, once the syrup is ready, you will have to carry it out into the snow, and the boiled syrup will be dangerously hot. If it splashes on anyone, it will stick, creating a bad burn. I boiled our syrup in a cast-iron tea pot. It was heck to clean, but I could put the lid on the pot and carry it outside without worrying about anyone getting burned.
2. Boil as much maple syrup as you want.
Some recipes call for half a cup, some for two cups. I'd start on the small side. In order for a candy thermometer to work properly, you generally need to immerse about an inch of the thermometer in the liquid. So you need to pour the maple syrup to a depth of at least an inch. It's nice to add a tablespoon of butter (or so) and some salt for that salted caramel flavor.
3. Boil the syrup to 235 degrees, or until it comes to the 'soft ball' stage.
This shouldn't take long – about five minutes after it comes to a boil.
4. Bring it outside.
Pour *thin* ribbons of syrup onto clean snow. I made some thicker ribbons too. That doesn't work as well. Thin is better.
Some recipes say you should pack snow or ice into a cookie sheet and use that instead. You've got to be kidding me.
The syrup will cool immediately. You're supposed to roll the ribbons up onto popsicle sticks and enjoy. My kids mostly just ate it before it made it to the popsicle sticks. It's crazy good.
6. Feel proud and slightly smug that you managed to eek a bit more fun out of this ridiculous winter.
Okay. I'm done. Spring, where are you? -- KW
If you missed last week's issue, here you go:
Sharing the Love on Valentine's Day
If you liked this story, you'll also like:
Antioxidants, Granola, and Illegal Maple Syrup
Five Easy Ways to Prevent Colds and Flu
Beautiful Crafts to Welcome Spring
Photo of maple toffee courtesy of TheSeafarer via Compfight cc
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