When life gives you lemons, you can make limoncello, but what about when life gives you snow? If you grew up in New England, (of French Canadian descent) and you have maple syrup, you know exactly what to do. Make “tire sur la niege” (draw on the snow) also known as “tire d’érable”, simply “la tire” or perhaps maple taffy.
Based on a recent online conversation, I was reminded of this dish and realized that my wife had never experienced it. With snow coming on the night of 2/25/13, it was evident what we had to do. When I was younger, as a snow storm was approaching, we would place our turkey roasting pans outside to collect fresh snow in anticipation of making “la tire.” So we set out to place out a roasting pan and some baking dishes to catch the forecasted snow….and waited.
What do you need?
-Pure Maple Syrup, I am partial to New Hampshire or Canadian Maple Syrup, but sometimes, any port in a storm.
-A deep (tall) sauce pan. I stress deep as the syrup will foam excessively while boiling and you do not want it to overflow.
-A candy thermometer.
-Popsicle sticks, forks, or chop sticks to pick up and/or twirl the taffy with.
-Nuts for topping. (This is a personal choice. The traditional recipe does not have any nuts, but we always topped with a small amount of chopped walnuts.)
-Clean snow to pour the thickened syrup over. I have seen it said that crushed ice can be used or that the snow can be scooped into the pan, but our method always involved setting pans out and allowing the snow to collect in them naturally. (I will pack the snow down after they are full to give the syrup a more solid base to be poured on to.)
-Prairie Fire Winery wine to pair with it. (Ok, this is definitely my addition, but it works!)
How do you do it?
- Set out your pans to collect snow.
- Heat the maple syrup to 240-260 degrees. (Two cup minimum, it is important that the thermometer ball remains covered by liquid and not by foam.) The temperature is completely up to you and how hard you want the resulting taffy to be. The less you reduce the syrup, (lower temperature) the softer the taffy will be. The more you reduce the syrup, (higher temperature) the harder the taffy will be.
- I cannot stress how hot this will be. Please be very careful and do no let children handle this hot liquid unsupervised. The risk of burning yourself is very high.
- Once you have reached the appropriate temperature, it is time to draw (pour) the syrup across the snow. We use a gravy ladle to draw the syrup, whatever works for you is fine.
- Enjoy! You can let them harden and remove then as taffy strips, or wind them around chop sticks earlier in a ball.
I am partial to New Hampshire Maple Sryup, but any quality pure maple syrup should fit the bill.
You really will need this deep of a pan:
The beginning of a boil:
As you can see, it will really foam up while boiling. You do not want this to spill over!
Begin to draw the syrup over the snow. It will harden quickly.
You will notice a couple of these are topped with walnuts, this is a personal preference. (Next we might try pecans.)
Finally, pair with your favorite Prairie Fire Wine! We found that a chilled Purple Grin was a great pairing.