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30 March 2008

How to ... Make Maple Snow Candy

On Friday, the girls had a snow day. The Consort was down in Boston for a conference. I was zoning out on the couch, letting my body fight the cold as best it could. One of the many joys of having older kids is that when you're not feeling well and they are home from school, you don't have to entertain them. Yahoo!

Late morning, and the snow was still coming down. "Hey, Mom, can we make maple snow candy?"

Trixie had recently read A Gathering of Days, and of course we had all read at some point in the past Little House in the Big Woods; both of which describe making snow candy. In fact, ever since I was a little girl and read Martine in Quebec (I couldn't find it online, but I swear there was an episode where she visited Quebec during Winter Carnival!), I had wanted to make snow candy.

Here we were in New England, during what might very well be the last snowstorm of the season, of the one year we were spending in NE. Of course we should make snow candy! They also thought it would be great to make a "How to" of this.

Another joy of having older children is that they can do so many things on their own. I now present the joint production of, How to Make Maple Snow Candy.

1. First, gather your materials: A saucepan, some local maple syrup, and a candy thermometer (optional, but handy).

2. Then, collect some snow. Originally, the girls put a jelly roll pan (raised edge cookie sheet) out in the snowfall. When Trixie came in and told me the snow was melting on the sheet, I said, "Oh, just put it (the snow-filled cookie sheet) in the freezer (until we're ready to make the candy)." I was unclear, so she thought I meant put just the cookie sheet in the freezer, not the snow and cookie sheet. In the end, the girls went outside and collected snow from an unwalked-on patch.

3. Pour some syrup in the pan, turn heat to medium, and let it boil, boil, boil. You can let it get to soft ball (240 degrees) or hard ball (260 degrees) stage. We went somewhere in between.

4. When the syrup is at the right temperature, get the bowls of snow on a flat surface near the stove.

5. Drizzle the hot syrup over the snow.

6. It hardens on contact with the snow. Dig in and eat. If the syrup was boiled to soft ball stage, it will be stretchy like caramel. If the syrup was boiled to hard ball stage, it won't stretch as much, but will be sticky in your teeth. Either way, it is tasty.

It really is so simple. The girls think we should keep this in mind for a winter potluck with our Iowa friends. I think that's a great idea.

I also like how bubbles were caught in the solidifying candy.