Sunday, January 4, 2015

Maple Sugar Candy

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
One of the sweets we make for Christmas is maple sugar candy.  It is a little fussy to make, but if you are flexible with the final results, it all tastes good!

Maple Sugar Candy

4 cups 100% light or medium maple syrup
1 tsp vegan margarine (just in case)
candy thermometer
Place the candy thermometer in boiling water to check it's accuracy.  It should read 212 degrees F.   (If it doesn't, note how much it is off so you will know if you have to add or subtract from your target temp.)  There should be a clip on the candy thermometer to attach it to the inside of a high sided pot.  Pour in the maple syrup.  Be sure the end of the thermometer is well submerged (but not touching the bottom of the pot)  to accurately read the temperature.  Heat on medium/high temperature stirring occasionally, watching constantly.  As it begins to actively simmer, it will expand.  Reduce heat enough to keep the syrup at the original level.  If reducing the heat doesn't lower the level, quickly stir in the teaspoon of margarine you have ready, then adjust the heat to keep it actively boiling but not boiling over.  Continue to watch, and stir occasionally until it reaches a full 240 degrees.  (If it's only 239 or less, you will end up with maple cream or candy that loses it's shape several days later.)  It will take approximately 30-45 minutes to reach 240: the last ten degrees seem to take the longest.   Set aside without stirring, until the temperature drops to 175 degrees.  Next, stir briskly with your favorite sturdy wooden spoon until it lightens in color somewhat.  (Approximately 3-5 minutes.)  Once this happens, QUICKLY spoon into your candy molds. (Or pour out on a large piece of parchment paper, smooth out a bit, and break into pieces when completely cooled.)    Once it is ready to spoon into the molds I place it back on the stove on very very low, and if possible have someone slowly stir as I spoon into the molds.  I do this because I usually lean toward stirring a little longer, as not stirring long enough produces candy that is not as solid as we like it.  The candy to the left shows the extra solid pieces from stirring way too long before spooning into the molds!  Medium maple syrup was used for both.  Light maple syrup will produce lighter colored candy.  Once they have cooled completely, store in an airtight container.
There are always a few solidified sugar clumps left on the bottom and sides that can be scrapped off.  Once they have completely cooled, press through a Foley food mill for nice fine maple sugar, ready for baking or your next bowl of hot cereal. See photo above.
( FYI: a flour sifter is not sturdy enough for this.  With a little pressure applied as you turn the handle, the Foley food mill does a great job.)
Looking for maple leaf molds? carries them.
Four cups makes approximately 90-100 little maple candies.  Whether you end up with maple cream or candy, it all tastes great.
Have a joyous and blessed day!

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