Study: Blueberry. 3.1.8 Salted Sugar on Snow.
Blueberry pancake breakfast, deconstructed, part 8.
Maple syrup should boggle the Upper Midwestern mind.
For a few days every spring, if you stick a spigot into one of the commonest trees around, sugar flows out.
I mean, that nuts, right?
Why doesn’t every maple tree have one of these sticking out of it all March?
Let’s make maple syrup crispy, to (finally) finish the blueberry pancake deconstruction.
Sugar on snow entertains bored, cold Canadians, who, in an ultimately futile attempt to to delude themselves into believing that they are undermining the maple cartel, siphon a few drops of gooey joy from the Strategic Maple Reserve, then feed it to their children. Maple sap, boiled a bit past the point at which it becomes syrup, then poured on snow, makes a sticky caramel.
This recipe takes the temperature a little bit further, then uses a sugar-molding technique of pouring a hot caramel over ice. It is somewhat terrifying to make
Flavor: Spiky, buttery candy. Then a strong maple flavor, subtle salt.
Make ice to use as a mold for the sugar. This is a recipe for ice. It is likely the most viewed recipe in the history of the internet.
For the blueberry pancake deconstruction, we used the same cube-shaped silicon molds as the buttermilk panna cotta. Using a pile of ice cubes will create a Gehry-esque sculpture.
Reserve additional ice for testing.
Make maple caramel. In a small saucepan on very low heat (well below 200 F), melt butter into syrup. Add salt until it is very lightly salty. Add spice to taste.
Now, carefully raise the temperature. A glance at the scar tissue on your fingers should serve as reminder that caramels are hot and that you should stop tasting the caramel.
Have your molded ice at the ready in a wide, heat proof container. (A Pyrex baking pan works.) The ice should be maintained as cold as possible.
Stirring constantly, gently raise the temperature. Temperature will rise unpredictably. At about 220-225 F the temperature may stall. Once the temperature moves past this point, it will accelerate rapidly. Let it rise to about 235-240 F. At this point, if you poured the scalding syrup onto snow, put a sharpened stick in it, then handed it to a child, you would be Canadian.
Take the temperature a little further up. At this point, the mixture will reach a thick yet quick gurgling boil with small bubbles.
Mold the sugar. Begin to test the mixture. With a heat proof spoon, drizzle a small amount of the syrup onto the test ice. It should become semi-solid on contact. Continue to allow the temperature to raise slightly until you are satisfied with your test result. A temperature of about 250 -255 F works
(In theory, the ideal temperature is probably about 268-270 F, between the “hard ball” and “soft crack” stages of candy-making, but hitting that temperature without burning the sugar can be quite difficult.)
Quickly stir in the remaining salt. Adding the salt late will allow some of the texture to remain.
With courage, rapidly pour the sugar mixture in a thin, even layer over the molded ice. Allow the sugar to set over the ice. After 5 to 10 minutes, carefully unmold the sugar.
1/4 cup Grade B maple syrup.
1/2 tbsp. unsalted butter.
1 tsp. back lava salt or sea salt (reduced soy sauce should work well in theory).
1/2 tsp. harissa powder (black pepper works as well).
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