For a whole bunch of years, maple taffy has reigned supreme as a winter delicacy—and for good motive.
Maple taffy, or tire sur la neige, is simply (as a result of the French establish suggests) maple syrup on snow. Initially an Indigenous customized, the recipe was adopted by French settlers in japanese Canada, significantly spherical Quebec, and the northeastern US, the place groves of maple timber develop the thickest. The winter take care of is an easy concoction, although the strategy of making it is actually pretty finicky. However truly, there’s nothing that pretty compares.
First, you boil the maple sap that you just simply’ve collected by tapping maple timber, and likewise you need plenty of sap. Maple syrup is made at roughly a 40-to-one ratio, which suggests you need 40 gallons of sap to make a gallon of maple syrup. After you might have your sap, you boil it down for hours, looking for what maple syrup producer Roland Gagne calls the “magic temperature.”
Gagne has made maple syrup on the St. Pierre-Jolys Museum inside the Canadian province of Manitoba, and has spent a decade working the sugar shack on the Pageant du Voyageur, an annual celebration of French Canadian and Metis custom. Over time, he’s rolled a whole bunch of servings of maple taffy, and he says you can see when the syrup has started to remodel. “You possibly can deliver it to a syrupy state, or you’ll be able to deliver it to a more durable state the place it is going to kind tighter crystals, or you’ll be able to boil it to a sweet kind,” he says. The trick is catching the syrup at merely the exact temperature after which cooling it down only a bit, sooner than pouring the liquid proper right into a snow mildew. If you get it glorious, the syrup will catch on the snow, reasonably than melting by means of it, and chances are you’ll roll it up on a spoon or a popsicle stick and devour it.
I first tried maple taffy on the Pageant du Voyageur as a toddler, although it was sooner than Gagne labored the sugar shack. It’s a mode that’s laborious to miss: warmth and chilly on the similar time, the taffy is bursting with sweetness and earthiness, a grassy finish that’s made even increased by the chilly winter air hitting your cheeks. It’s such a straightforward recipe, however it’s shockingly good.
It will probably even ship people from world extensive to the East Coast, capable of brave the climate for a mode of customized. “Earlier than GPS, I had an extended listing of instructions,” says Rob Lamothe, proprietor of Lamothe’s Sugar Home in Burlington, Connecticut. One of many largest sugar properties inside the state, Lamothe’s has been in enterprise for larger than 50 years. He and his partner had been all about self-sufficiency, looking for to provide as a number of their very personal meals as doable. They started by tapping only a few timber, after which phrase of mouth took over. Individuals started calling, wanting to purchase syrup or take a tour. Quickly, Lamothe was fielding calls from world extensive. “Final yr, we had anyone from Germany,” he says. “They deliberate out their entire journey, they wished to come back to Connecticut.”
For these shoppers who’ve traveled a long way, Lamothe has even came upon strategies to make maple taffy to-go—no matter piping scorching syrup and snow seeming like important parts of the recipe. As a substitute, Lamothe makes the taffy on the snow and cools it down quickly by popping it inside the freezer specifically particular person elements for purchasers to heat up later. It’s a twist on the usual recipe he found from his French-Canadian aunt Yvonne. “That’s what recollections are made out of,” he says.
That sense of customized is what many sugar shacks, or cabanes à sucre, try to keep up alive right now. Outdoors of Montreal, Pierre Faucher runs the Sucrerie de la Montagne, a sugar shack that has run since 1978. The enterprise is open year-round, and it welcomes larger than 80,000 visitors a yr. The sucrerie was even made proper right into a Quebec heritage web site, the place shoppers can get a glimpse of the earlier and research regarding the historic previous of maple syrup. “When folks reconnect to the approach to life, they actually prefer it,” Faucher says. “Ever since folks have been making maple syrup, they collect round and benefit from the purity of the springtime. It’s a present of nature.”
Even now, as an individual in his 70s who’s surrounded by maple syrup daily, Faucher says the fashion of maple taffy under no circumstances will get outdated. He was about 5 years outdated when he had his first fashion of tire sur la neige. “I’ll always remember that,” Faucher says. “It was so, so scrumptious. And I’m 75, and it’s nonetheless so scrumptious.”
Maple syrup can solely be harvested when the temperature is glorious, usually between early February and late March. For those that’re a maple lover, that is the fitting time of yr to get out to the native sugar bush for a tour and a tasting. And much like wine, the world and terroir of the place the syrup is produced will affect the fashion. So pack up some moist wipes and take a freeway journey to take a look at only a few completely totally different sugar shacks near you. This taffy is positively definitely worth the journey.