Silly me to think that pancakes on a snowy day would satisfy my 9-year-old. My daughter Nazrana was apparently a resident of Vermont in a previous life (she is Hindu by birth). Years ago, after reading the wonderful book “Maple Syrup Season” by Ann Purmell, we made “sugar on snow,” the maple taffy made by boiling syrup and pouring it over well-packed snow. We decided to try it again when snow recently cancelled school.
Sugar on snow is a treat throughout New England. Sometimes called “leather aprons,” the thick, gooey mouthfuls are often accompanied by sour pickles (to cut the sweetness) and doughnuts (because some find it not sweet enough?). In Vermont, the country’s largest producer of maple syrup, sugar-on-snow parties herald spring. In New Hampshire, sugar houses across the state band together for a weekend of horse-drawn carriage rides and taffy twirling. Sugar on snow is also a favorite in upstate New York, the country’s second largest maple syrup producer. (For a first-hand account of sugaring, read Nevin Martell’s piece about growing up in a maple family.)
We’ve put together a slideshow of our snow-day efforts, along with a recipe – just in case we get more snow.
Sugar on snow is a treat throughout northern New England. It is often made in spring, when the sap runs and gets boiled into syrup. It is usually eaten with sour pickles (to cut the sweetness), coffee and doughnuts (for more sweetness).
- Fresh, clean snow
- Pure maple syrup
- Sour pickles
Pack fresh clean snow into a large baking dish. Pat it down firmly until it is well packed. Place the baking dish in the freezer to stay cold while the syrup boils.
Put a cup or two of syrup into a large pot (it will boil over if the pot is too small.) Attach a candy thermometer to the pot, and turn the heat to medium high. Let the syrup slowly begin to boil, being careful not to let it burn. Bring the syrup to 234 degrees F.
Retrieve the snow from the freezer. Using a small ladle, drizzle the boiled syrup over the snow in thick strips. Let it set for about 5 seconds. Use a fork to lift the taffy off the snow, twirling as you go. Serve with sour pickles, doughnuts and hot, black coffee.