by Lori Straus
In my 20s, I taught English in Germany. As the resident Canadian in a small-town school, I thought asking the students to produce something creative about pioneer life might interest them. I wrote up brief summaries myself, because their English was still close to the beginner level. One summary was about maple syrup, which that group turned into a meal, complete with maple sap pie. It showed me how ingrained maple syrup is in Canadian society: It hadn’t occurred to me that they wouldn’t know you don’t ingest the sap. In today’s blog post, we’ll talk about maple syrup taffy, that yummy dessert you make by pouring hot maple syrup on snow.
How to Make Maple Syrup Snow Taffy
The recipe itself is pretty simple. Heat up one cup of maple syrup to a boil. Pour it in strips on clean snow. If you don’t have snow, or you want to ensure your snow is free of dog pee, use homemade slush from the freezer.
Using one popsicle stick per strip of maple syrup, roll up the fast-cooling syrup and lay each taffy roll on a piece of parchment paper. Top with some sea salt if desired and enjoy right away.
Where to Try Maple Syrup Snow Candy
Maple syrup festivals abound in Ontario, usually in early spring, and we think you’ll be hard-pressed to find even one festival that doesn’t offer maple syrup snow taffy. Moreover, you may be able to take part in maple syrup tasting competitions.
The Elmira Maple Syrup Festival takes over the town of Elmira in March. (Visit their website for details.) You’ll find their famous pancake tent, toy show & sale, tons of handmade crafts, scrumptious apple fritters, and a great selection of maple syrup.
The Sugarbush Maple Syrup Festival takes place in various parts of Toronto beginning in March. Some locations continue with the festival into April. Full details on their website. At the Sugarbush Maple Syrup Festival, you’ll find wagon rides, maple syrup sampling, loads of family-fun activities, and sugarbush demonstrations.
Perhaps the biggest event for maple syrup producers—and one equally enjoyed by the public—is the Royal Agriculture Fair, an annual event that has taken place every November (except in 2020) since 1922. The fair’s maple syrup competition is one of several food competitions at the fair. Butter tarts; jams and jellies; and honey, beeswax, and mead are among the competition categories you’ll find here. In 2020, Schmidt Family Syrup from Wellesley won the John David Eaton World Championship Cup for their Grade A, golden/delicate taste maple syrup.
Maple Syrup: A Sweet Taste
I lived in Germany a few times. Prior to that year teaching English, I had worked as an au pair for a German family who lived close to the Dutch border. We went to a market one morning in Holland and ate at a restaurant. I saw pancakes and syrup on the menu and placed my order without thinking. I got a pancake the size of a crepe and…glucose syrup. I almost spat it out.
I realized I’d made a mistake: if the menu doesn’t say “maple,” that syrup is not maple syrup. I’m sure I ate everything to be polite, but it wasn’t an experience I wanted to repeat. Ever. What’s the point of eating pancakes if you’re going to sweeten them with something plain?
Whether you celebrate maple syrup at a festival or at home, you can still enjoy your maple syrup year round, especially as maple syrup taffy.
**As with many events and festivals during this time they will likely be subject to the COVID-19 restrictions. Please confirm events details.