Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Maple Madness

It's March. And while most people are thinking about college basketball, I'm dreaming about maple syrup! This is the time of year when maple trees are being tapped and sap is being collected and turned into liquid gold. When I was a kid my parents took us to a maple syrup festival at Cunningham Falls State Park in Thurmont, MD (about 15 miles north of Frederick). I can still remember the aroma of maple syrup boiling in the cold air and the exquisite, melt-in-your-mouth taste of maple sugar candy...

It became my weekend's mission/obsession to make maple sugar candy. As it turns out, this is no easy task. Maple candy exists in a small window between maple caramel (which is delicious) and maple sugar (which is also delicious, but decidedly not candy). It took me all weekend to find this miraculous window. Luckily, maple syrup is very forgiving and you can just pop your failed attempt back into the pot, add a little water, and start the process all over again. And it is so freaking good, it was totally worth the effort! Maple sugar candy is sort of like fudge, so a little bit goes a long way. I highly recommend making several small batches rather than one large batch. Small batches heat more quickly, bubble up less, and are easier to pour into the candy molds. I also recommend checking out the link below to a video of the candy making process which I found very helpful!

Makes 12 candies
1/2 c. pure maple syrup
heavy medium saucepan
candy thermometer
wooden spoon
silicone candy mold
Pour maple syrup into heavy medium saucepan and attach candy thermometer. Heat over high heat to 242 degrees. Remove from heat and stir with a wooden spoon until bubbles subside and mixture just starts to lose its glossiness. Quickly pour into silicone candy molds and let cool.
*After pouring off your candy, be sure to scrape the hardened maple sugar off of your saucepan and save it to sprinkle on ice cream or yogurt! So.... good...

This. Is. Amazing. I saved my maple sugar scrapings from candy-making to sprinkle on the top and added a vanilla waffle cookie*. Perfection.

Maple Ice Cream (adapted from Serious Eats) - GF*, V

Makes 1 quart
6 egg yolks
3/4 c. maple syrup
1 c. cream
1 1/2 c. half and half
1/2 t. salt
1. In a heavy, medium saucepan, whisk egg yolks and maple syrup until well-combined. Whisk in cream and half and half. Cook over medium heat about 25 min. until a custard forms on the back of a spoon but a swiped finger leaves a clean line (about 170 degrees). Stir in salt and strain into an airtight container. Chill overnight or at least 6 hours.
2. Churn in ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions. Return to airtight container and freeze at least 3 hours before serving.

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