- Time: 10 minutes
- Cost: $3.75 a batch or so—less if you've got cheaper maple syrup handy, more if you don't have basic kitchen implements
- Difficulty: Easy
Sort out your snow. If you've got a pristine patch of freshly-fallen white stuff sitting pretty on your patio, you can just make your candy right there. You want to make sure you've got plenty of clearance between the snow you'll be pouring molten sugar on and anything you don't want to eat—like dog pee or dirt. So unless you feel confident that a cubic six inches or so of snow in your yard is clean (and going to stay that way for the next ten minutes) just pack some into a pan and stick it in your freezer for safe keeping.
Get yourself some quality syrup. The genuine maple article, if you please. This is important: If you use the fake stuff—which is just corn syrup in disguise—you'll end up with a gooey, artificially-flavored mess.
Put a cup of the stuff (or more! or less! the world is your single-ingredient-recipe oyster) in a small saucepan. If you've got a pot that's good for pouring—one with a nice handle, and maybe even a spout—now is the time to use it. Put it on the stove on medium-high heat and bring it to a boil. Stir it frequently to keep it from bubbling over or burning.
You want your maple syrup to hit the "soft-ball stage". This refers to the behavior it will exhibit as it cools down: the molten liquid will form a soft, flexible ball when it hits cold water. If you've got a candy thermometer handy, 235°F is the magic number. Alternatively, you can do a practical test by dabbing droplets of your boiling syrup into cold water and then seeing how squishy they are. Or, if you're feeling lazy, just set a timer for four minutes—your sugar should be pretty much where you want it to be after around four to five minutes of boiling.
Before the syrup has a chance to cool, pour it onto a layer of packed snow. If you want your candy to come in the form of snowy lollipops, lay some popsicle sticks out first and pour the syrup back and forth along the top third of the sticks. Otherwise, just drizzle your syrup back and forth over the whole surface of your snowpack. It should start to cool immediately. Once the strips are hard enough to pick up, do so—and eat them immediately. Tell your dentist we're sorry.