Sunday, March 27, 2011

Sugar on snow

Please go visit Beth Fish Reads to see what everyone else is making this weekend.

Before the snow is all gone, I thought we'd better make some sugar on snow. It is a delightful way to say goodbye to snowtime in our neck of the woods.

Here is the wikipedia entry about sugar on snow in case this treat is new to you.

Maple taffy (sometimes maple taffee in English-speaking Canada, tire d'érable in French-speaking Canada; also sugar on snow in the United States) is a confection made by boiling maple sap past the point where it would form maple syrup but not so long that it becomes maple butter or maple sugar. It is part of traditional culture in Quebec, Eastern Ontario and northern New England. In these regions, it is poured onto the snow and then lifted either with a small wooden stick, such as a popsicle stick, or a metal dinner fork. The event in New England is called a sugar on snow party, and the soft candy is traditionally served with yeast-risen donuts, sour dill pickles, and coffee. The pickles and coffee serve to counter the intense sweetness of the candy. Maple taffy is also made in the Canadian province of Manitoba using Manitoba Maple syrup, which is made from the Manitoba Maple tree (also known as a Box Elder). The syrup and taffy produced from a Manitoba Maple are generally darker and have a mustier flavour than that which is made from sugar maples.

The confectionery is made by boiling maple syrup to about 112 °C (234 °F). It is best to use a candy thermometer. The thick liquid may be kept hot over a very low flame or in a pan of hot water, but should not be stirred as it will form grainy crystals. This liquid is then poured in a molten state upon clean snow whereupon the cold causes it to rapidly thicken. If the syrup runs rather than hardens when it is poured on the snow, then it has not yet been boiled long enough to make the soft maple candy. Once sufficiently hardened the candy can be picked up and eaten. The higher a temperature one boils the initial syrup, the thicker the final result will be. As it is popularly eaten soft it is usually served fresh. It is most often prepared and eaten alongside the making of maple syrup at a sugar house or cabane √† sucre.

Here are the steps at Windy Poplars Farm this day.

I began boiling up some maple syrup

while Tom went out and got a panful of snow

This is how it looks after boiling for about ten minutes - we don't bother with a candy thermometer

Then we poured it over the snow

And spooned it out into a dish

There is truly nothing sweeter. Delicious with or without donuts and pickles and coffee.


  1. that is just what we do at our maple bush, only we pack snow on cookie sheets, let the taffy harden, and then roll it up on a stick. YUM

  2. That would be handy to have a way to hold it, Niki! I sure can't eat much at a time.

  3. A favorite winter tradition here too. So yummy to have at least once a year.

  4. Growing up in Canada we would visit the maple sugar bush annually. I love maple syrup frozen on snow.

  5. Yum! Yum! This looks so, dare I say, refreshingly healthy and natural. I will have to make this next winter with my children.

  6. WE made some of that as a kid!!!

  7. I've never heard of this before, but it sounds yummy. Our snow is long gone, but should we get one of those crazy April snowstorms, I will have to give this a try.

  8. I think they make this in one of the Laura Ingalls Wilder books. When I was in grade school, I had a cookbook that based its recipes on the food featured in that series and this was one of them. We tried it once, but I think we burnt the syrup or something and it didn't come out right. Thanks for reminding me of this dish.

  9. This is completely a new food idea for me but it sounds delicious. I grew up in Wisconsin and my mom made snow ice cream which was also a nice tradition. I love these regional treats.

    I like the "friends" sentiment in your header.

  10. I didn't know people still actually do that - it is such a lovely, old-fashioned way of creating sweets :-)
    The first time I came across this was in a book: "My little home on the prairie" by Laura Ingalls Wilder. When I read that, I was 10 or 11 years old, but I still remember that I was fascinated by the idea.
    Strangely enough, I never tried it myself.

  11. Mmmm... that looks like so much fun. I remember reading about this in a book a long time ago. I wish I could remember the title. I wish I could taste it.

  12. It looks so lovely, had never heard of this before! (But I adore maple syrup, so I can imagine it tastes really good)

  13. Beth, that's great!

    Esme, there's nothing quite like that first taste of syrup when there's boiling in the sugar house!

    Peaceful Reader, it is a wonderful thing to do with children. Our kids loved it when they were little, and yesterday we brought some down the hill to our grown-up daughter and her boyfriend who were thrilled.

    Staci, you oughtta try it again!

    Karen, I am sure we'll have some snow in April. We always do. Hope you get to try it. It will make the snow worth it!

    Christy and Librarian, how great that you remember it from this book!!

    Margot, snow ice cream?? I want to know more! I love regional foods/traditions too. Thanks about the header. A friend gave us that plaque.

    Kay, I wonder if the book is the one Christy and Librarian mentioned? I bet it is!

    Chinoiseries, it IS lovely!

    And it is, Sherri!

  14. Donuts, pickles and coffee with this? Some of my favorites :-).

  15. Sounds delicious!! Love the sign in your header!!

  16. I can never figure out why there are pickles in this traditional combination. For the salt/sour contrast perhaps? Someone was feeling awfully creative when they made that part up!

  17. Jodi, and good all on it's own!

    Mare, thank you. A friend gave it to us. See the bare ground?! :<)

    J.G., I think it is the sour to balance the extreme sweetness of the maple syrup. I don't like the taste of pickles but I love the smell. Go figure. :<)

  18. Oh Nan, I've always wanted to do this, but being a California coast girl in the winter usually means not a chance!

    Loved this.

    Sharon Lovejoy Writes from Sunflower House and a Little Green Island

  19. Sharon, I suppose California has its compensations! ;<)

  20. Love this! We have this as a treat every year at the Caribou Carnival in Yellowknife. Thanks for the reminder!

  21. Colleen, that is a GREAT posting! Thanks so much for directing me to it.

  22. Delicious! But, I can't imagine eating this alongside a pickle!

  23. Dawn, I don't care for pickles so I've not tried it, but people who have think it is a perfect combo!


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