No snow? No problem.
If you live in colder regions of the country, you’ve likely noticed the silvery buckets that have begun to appear on maple trees, or lines of tubing running from trunk to trunk in an elaborate kind of connect-the-dots. Soon, maple sugar houses dormant over the winter will be boiling sap and bustling with syrup-seekers who come for pancake breakfasts or other treats (including my own childhood favorite, maple frappes), and jugs full of that sweet seasonal flavor. In honor of sugaring time, we’re turning our attention to all things maple.
First up: a recipe for an easy sweet that makes good use of fresh snow (of which we’ve had plenty!) and that author Laura Ingalls Wilder remembers fondly in Little House in the Big Woods. No snow where you are? Finely crushed ice, or even vanilla ice cream, would do the trick. The recipe below would feed a larger group; if you’re making it for just a few, feel free to adapt the quantities (I tried a cup of maple syrup with a half-stick of butter and still had enough to share).
Sugar on Snow
There is nothing more authentically traditional among sugarmakers than a springtime Sugar-on-Snow party. It is actually an easy-to-make treat year round, according to the Vermont Maple Sugar Makers’ Association/Vermont Maple Promotion Board, which distributes these guidelines. Sugar on Snow is traditionally served with sour pickles and plain doughnuts to cut the sweetness of the candy.
- 1 quart pure maple syrup
- 1 cup (2 sticks) butter
- 1 tub of packed snow or well-crushed ice (size depends on number being served — can be as small as a quart, but increase accordingly)
- Heat the syrup and butter in a large pot over medium heat, watching carefully; turn the heat down if it threatens to boil over.
- When a candy thermometer reaches 234°F, cool slightly and test by spooning a tablespoon of syrup over the snow. If the syrup sits on top of the snow and clings to a fork like taffy, it’s ready.
- Pour in “ribbons” over snow or ice packed in bowls.