Today’s blog post was written by Jessica Stillman, school outreach coordinator and maple syrup aficionado at Bronte Creek Provincial Park.
Maple season is upon us!
The trees have been cut down, the sap is boiling and the annual Bronte Creek Maple Syrup Festival is underway, which means the biggest annual debate has also begun…
…what is the best form of maple candy: caramel or sugar?
During the Maple Syrup Festival, we produce thousands of pieces of sugar and candy for visitors to enjoy. The staff is very happy to witness the excitement, nostalgia and happiness on a visitor’s face as they try our hard work.
Maple sugar and maple caramel ready to be tasted!
As a staff member, each year we inevitably get asked, “Which is better, maple sugar or maple caramel?”
With this simple question, the maple candy war begins!
Separated by a farm yard, Bronte Creek’s Sugar Squad and Taffy Team work hard every day of the festival to ensure their maple delights prevail.
They will amaze you with their production skills, wow you with their exceptional maple flavors, and compete for your love of their sugary delights.
So, maple lovers, I ask you: which is better, maple caramel or maple sugar?
Maple candy vs maple sugar
Maple caramel and maple sugar start out the same, as 100% maple syrup, with nothing added (ever)!
For both caramel and sugar, the syrup is heated to evaporate the remaining water, leaving a hot, bubbly liquid that is about 99% sugar.
The maple syrup is boiled further to evaporate the remaining water and leave behind the sugars.
Each candy has its own unique qualities and production process. The Bronte Creek Maple staff is trained to bring you the best!
When making candy, hot sugary liquid is poured over something cold (such as snow or ice) to cool the liquid quickly. This rapid cooling of the sugar does not give it time to form sugar crystals, which creates a sticky, stringy candy form.
Brontë’s maple candy team pours hot sugar syrup into blocks of ice and uses a popsicle stick to quickly scoop up the cooled candy for you to enjoy.
Maple candy is chewy, but soft, and its consistency resembles a taffy or taffy. But in flavor, it’s 100% maple goodness!
When you get sticky strings of this candy all over your face, your friends, and sometimes even your dog, it’s hard not to have a huge maple smile.
Maple candy is boiled to the same temperature or soft ball candy stage as butterscotch, but instead of cooling it quickly, we want the maple sugar to cool slowly and form sugar crystals.
Maple sugar is spread on a silicone mat to shape the maple candies into maple leaves.
You’ll see the Sugar Squad staring at the big pots of syrup on the wood stove, hoping it looks and smells good.
Each pot is removed from the heat and stirred. It may take five to eight minutes of stirring before the dark brown liquid begins to thicken and the team feels sand-like sand begin to form at the bottom of the pot. This way we know it’s time to pour the sugar onto a silicone mat.
Once poured, it’s a race to spread the pudding-like liquid to fill the holes before it hardens completely.
After cooling a little more, we can take out the individual sugar cubes!
Maple sugar has a completely different consistency than maple candy, although its origins are the same. The sugar grains in each piece of candy melt when they touch your tongue, coating your mouth in a sweet symphony of smoky maple bliss.
So are you Team Taffy or Team Sugar?
Come try both during the annual Bronte Creek Maple Syrup Festival!
The festival will be open on March 4 and 5, from the 11th to the 19th, and the weekend of the 25th and 26th.
Activities include tours of Maple Lane to see how syrup has been produced throughout history and our restored Victorian farmhouse as it looked in 1899.
Not to mention hayrides, pancake dinners, historical games, and our maple shows, which include songs and stories about maple syrup.
And of course, there are samples of maple candy, maple sugar, maple syrup, and lots of souvenirs!
You didn’t think we were going to excite your taste buds without having lots of sweets ready for you to try, did you?
Visit our website for more information!
Let us know which maple sugar treat is your favorite by tagging us in your maple memories using @OPBronteCreek and @OntarioParks.
Or let our staff know what an amazing job they are doing to make your maple moments happen!