Here in the American Northeast, the maple sap has started flowing, bringing the trees back to life. Native Americans introduced maple syrup to the early settlers; it is a uniquely American taste of Spring. And it is a treat we can feel good about. Tapping the trees doesn’t hurt them, and maple syrup is a bit more nutritious for us than refined white sugar. For one thing, it has twice the calcium of milk!
The process of making this traditional candy is simple and fascinating, and the result is sheer delight, mineral-rich, creamy and sweet, like eating concentrated tree energy. Participate in the magic of spring!
2 cups real maple syrup
1. Using a candy thermometer, in a sturdy saucepan with high sides, bring the maple syrup to a boil.
2. Turn the heat to very low and allow the syrup to continue boiling without stirring until the thermometer reads 233F. Be careful that the syrup doesnít boil over – once maple syrup finally decides to boil, it really boils. The boiling action is mesmerizing; the syrupís dark earthy color in such constant motion reminds us that the earth itself is constantly moving and changing, even when it appears to remain the same.
3. When the reduced syrup has reached 233F, remove it from the heat and allow to cool, still without stirring it, until the thermometer reads 110F.
4. Now itís time to beat the reduced syrup with a wooden spoon. Beat vigorously for several minutes. (It can help to sing when you do this.) You are making a transformation take place: As you beat, the syrup gradually turns a pale caramel color and it becomes stiff enough to hold a shape.
5. Place in candy molds or form into patties on a plate or baking sheet and allow to cool completely. Then unmold and enjoy.
Makes about 1 pound of candy.