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Maple taffy is a sweet treat made from pure, concentrated, real maple syrup. It is not a true taffy at all, but it has a texture that is similar to genuine taffy, hence the name. It is sometimes called sugar on snow as well and is sometimes called maple toffee or taffye. True taffy and toffee are both distinct confections that resemble maple taffy only in texture.
A traditional treat in many parts of North America where maple syrup is made, maple taffee has been made for centuries. Areas of northern New England, in the United States, and in many parts of Canada are places where people have been making this very simple confection for a very long time. This is primarily due to the large number of sugar maple trees, the source of maple syrup, that are found in these regions.
True taffy is made by boiling a mixture of sugar, some type of oil or butter and, very often, some type of color and flavoring. This mixture is then kneaded and folded in a process called pulling, which gives it a lighter, chewier texture. Maple taffy is not handled in this way at all and so is not actually true taffy, although to add to the confusion, traditional taffy can be flavored with maple flavoring. Maple taffy has a texture reminiscent of true taffy, however, and so is often called taffy. It is chewy and very sweet.
Making maple taffy is very simple. Maple syrup is required, and it must be pure, genuine maple syrup from sugar maple trees, although in parts of Canada, syrup made from the sap of a related tree called the box elder is sometimes used. Maple syrup is made by boiling sugar maple sap down, a process that requires between 20 to 50 gallons (70 to 175 liters) of sap to make one gallon (3.8 liters) of syrup. The maple syrup is boiled further until it begins to thicken and reaches a temperature of 232-238 degrees Fahrenheit (111.1-114 degrees Celsius).
Once the syrup has been reduced and cooked to the proper temperature, it is poured over hard-packed, pure snow. The hot syrup quickly begins to solidify when it contacts the snow and acquires a thick, chewy texture. Traditionally, the maple taffy is often rolled up on a wooden stick. Some people eat the taffy when it is still warm, but some prefer to let it cool completely, which results in a harder candy.
My grandmother lives in New England, and makes maple taffy every holiday season. It is a treat that the entire family looks forward to eating each year.
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