Two-Ingredient Maple Syrup Candy & Other Sweet Winter Recipes
I learned the maple lollipop recipe below in the second grade when we were studying maple trees and maple syrup production in Ohio. Our class attended a field trip to a location in Ohio where maple syrup was produced, and we were able to watch some sap gathering at sugar maple trees. Inside a production facility, we saw how the syrup became candy.
Later, I learned that this recipe I am sharing is a traditional Native American recipe for winter candy. It all begins with gathering the sap. For us today, bottled maple syrup may be the beginning of many wonderful treats.
Two-Ingredient Maple Syrup Candy
The Northeastern US tribes cooked maple sap in large pots over an open fire and drizzled it into the surrounding snow to cool and harden. Thus, it contained only one ingredient in those days!
- 1 cup maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon butter
- Sheet pan, lined with aluminum foil or parchment paper
- In a heavy saucepan, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add the syrup and cook, stirring constantly, until it reads 290 degrees F on a candy thermometer or until drizzled syrup hardens to a firm ball when placed in cold water.
- Put the saucepan in a larger pan of cold water to stop the cooking. Quickly pour the hot syrup onto aluminum foil, greased cake pans, a greased sheet pan, or even on a greased countertop, and allow to cool.
- Crack into bite-size pieces. Place the candy in an airtight container and store in a cool, dry place.
Alternative Method: Maple Lollipops
For an alternative form of maple candy, use some popsicle sticks and a couple of metal sheet pans that have been chilled in your freezer until very cold:
- When you are ready to pour out the candy mixture from the cooking pot, line up the sheet pans on top of clean towels on your counter.
- Starting at the bottom of a sheet pan, line up popsicle sticks about 2" apart in rows that leave 2" between the top of sticks and the bottom of sticks in the row above and below. Some cooks fill the pans with a layer of crushed ice, tamped down, but this tends to melt quickly, especially in warmer weather and a hot kitchen.
- Drizzle candy mixture over each stick to make a slim lollipop.
- Let the candy cool and harden. Lift the maple lollipops off the pans by grasping the handle of each and lifting at an angle away from you carefully so that the candy does not break apart.
- Place the lollipops, handle down, in a container like a large ceramic mug for serving. A pair of small tongs help to maintain cleanliness when removing each treat; but, you can also wrap each one in a cellophane wrapper available for candy and craft stores.
Round Bear Paw Pastry
This is another Native American traditional favorite that is for special occasions but is also happily used anytime.
To make these loaves more festive, add 1/4 cup of dried fruit into each loaf for the four loaves. So that would be 2 cups of dried fruits of your choice: raisins, dates, blueberries, apricots, figs, cranberries, cherries, or other favorites.
Yield: Four loaves.
- 10 cups flour
- 2 cups hot water
- 2 teaspoons solid vegetable shortening, lard, butter, or margarine
- 1 teaspoon honey
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 packages active dry yeast
- ½ cup warm water (about 110 degrees F)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
- Place 2 cups of hot water, shortening, honey, and salt in a large bowl; stir until shortening is melted.
- Dissolve yeast in the warm water in a small bowl. When the liquid in the larger bowl has cooled to room temperature, stir in the yeast mixture.
- Add flour 1 cup at a time (8 cups total), beating well after each cup. Pour the remaining 2 cups on a board and turn out dough on top of it.
- Knead the dough until smooth and elastic, about 10 to 15 minutes.
- Place the dough in a greased large bowl, turning the dough to grease the top of the dough.
- Cover the dough with a clean kitchen towel and let rise for 90 minutes or until double in size.
- Turn dough out on a floured board and knead again for 3-4 minutes.
- Grease 4 (9-inch) pie pans.
- Divide dough into four equal parts and make flat circles about 8 inches in diameter.
- Fold each circle almost in half, allowing the bottom to extend an inch beyond the top lip. With a sharp knife, slash the dough twice, cutting through both layers of dough, about halfway back to the fold. This will form three toes for the bear's claw.
- Place each loaf in a greased pie plate, curving the folded side into a crescent.
- Separate the slashes (toes), cover loosely with a towel, and let rise until doubled in size again.
- Set a shallow pan of hot water in the center of the bottom oven rack.
- Place the loaves on the top oven rack.
- Bake for 1 hour or until the bread is browned and sounds hollow when tapped.
Yield: 36 fritters.
- 1 cup fresh cranberries
- 1 1/2 cups unbleached flour
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon milk
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- Peanut oil for deep frying
- Confectioners' sugar
- Wash the cranberries and pat dry on paper towels.
- Sift dry ingredients together and mix in milk for a stiff dough.
- With floured hands, pinch off 1 teaspoon of dough and make an indentation.
- Sprinkle a little brown sugar in the indentation and place a cranberry in the center.
- Roll dough around the berry. Repeat until dough is gone.
- Heat oil in a deep, heavy pan to 375 degrees F.
- Drop fritter balls into the fat. Fry, turning until they are deep golden brown.
- Drain on paper towels.
- Shake confectioners sugar over the fritters just before serving hot.
Spicy Pine Nut Feast Day Cookies
Yield: 24 cookies.
- 2/3 cup plus 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2/3 cup shortening
- 1 whole egg
- 2 cups unbleached flour, sifted
- 4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon aniseed
- 1/3 cup milk
- 1/2 cup pine nuts, chopped. Use about 1/2 cup whole pine nuts on top of cookies.
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- In a mixing bowl, cream 2/3 cup sugar and shortening.
- Add egg and blend thoroughly.
- Stir in flour, baking powder, vanilla extract, and aniseed, blending well.
- Gradually add milk to form a stiff dough, then mix in the pine nuts.
- Roll dough on a floured board to 1/2-inch thick.
- Cut rolled dough into 2-inch cookies with a cookie cutter or cut squares with a pizza cutter.
- Sprinkle tops with sugar and cinnamon and press a few pine nuts into the tops of the cookies.
- Bake cookies on greased baking sheet 15 minutes until golden brown.
- Cool on a cooling rack and serve.
© 2007 Patty Inglish MS