Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Making candy in the snow

Snow! Finally!

I don't want to exaggerate this snow fall. It's a bare 3 inch accumulation. But in this snow starved climate, we have to pack every important snow day activity into those precious three inches.

For instance - Snow cream. At breakfast due to my excitement. Snow cream is my all time favorite snow treat. If we receive half an inch, I'm dusting cups of snow from every clean surface to make snow cream. Several bowls worth are sitting outside the back door. The only time I don't experience an absolute need for an extra freezer. 

And a new snow day activity: molasses squiggle candy. You Little House fans know what I'm talking about, even if you haven't made it. The hot molasses poured over snow that Laura and Mary make for Christmas in the big woods. Today's science, art and history lesson all in one.

The girls made fantastic mini sculptures, spooning the brown goo over trays of snow. But we learned several lessons in the school of life along the way. 
1. The book illustrator misrepresented how messy this project is. No neat candies in the snow. We spun yards of molasses candy string linking each individual piece. These proved excellent nourishment for the Wonka twins during the lean times while mommy was reheating the candy goop. Or so they explained to me as they gobbled them up as fast as the sugar could harden.

The romanticized drawing...

The sculptural reality...

2. Little man could play short stop. His hands moved at Jeter speed to snatch a candy from the tray where they lay drying. I didn't realize he could reach that far. Nor did I know he could get food in his mouth which was beyond his skill last week with a banana.
3. These big sisters will spoil the brother rotten. They kept trying to sneak "safe" pieces of candy to him once they realized how much he liked them. Here's the face when mean ol' momma interfered with the black market candy trade.

If you are the sort of adventurous family that gives small children spoonfuls of 300 degree sugar and encourages them to draw in snow {I realize how crazy I sound even suggesting this}, here's the recipe:

Molasses Snow Candy

Equal parts sugar and molasses - I used 1/2 c each

Prepare two large baking trays with snow up to the lip. Store outside to keep the snow from melting until you're ready to pour. Cover a cookie sheet with a towel for drying the candy.
In a small sauce pot on medium heat, combine sugar and molasses, stirring until smooth. A wooden spoon is best for this.
If you have a candy thermometer, use it. Otherwise, have a spoon and a cup of cold water handy. Heat the sugar mixture, stirring frequently to prevent burning. Early in the process, vigilance is not as important as toward the end. Don't leave the pot, say to pick up a crying baby, when the mixture is bubbling and growing.
Heat the mixture to the "hard crack" line on your candy thermometer, about 20 minutes. If you don't have a thermometer, you can check the stage by dropping a small ball of sugar into the cup of water. It's ready when the drop forms a hard candy with a crack.
Spoon the hot mixture in squiggles, curlicues, etc... over the snow. It will harden almost immediately. Move the hard candy to a towel to dry.
If the mixture will not flow off the spoon, return pot to the stove on low heat and reheat mixture until it pours.

A fun old fashioned adventure.

If you are wondering whether this is a safe activity.. to misquote C.S. Lewis: Safe? Course it isn't safe! But it's fun.

Seriously, no one was hurt. The girls understood how hot the candy was and carefully avoided it until it hit the snow.

And a bonus snow recipe:

Snow Cream

Large bowlful of snow {I use the biggest bowl I can find - this shrinks by at least half}
Sugar to taste {1/4-1/2 c}
1 T vanilla
1/2 c milk

Combine sugar, snow and vanilla. Slowly add milk. Combine until you make a dry slush.
Eat it all and make more!

Yep. It's that simple. You can flavor it with cocoa or espresso powder if you want. I'm happy with plain vanilla, just like my momma made it.

1 comment:

  1. Ha! That LHOTP illustration is such a vivid part of my childhood, hate it seems to be more than a little idealized :P Would love to try making some if we ever get more than cold rain in Memphis!


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