Let me paint a picture: it’s 6 am on a quiet, snowy morning. You walk downstairs and make a cup of coffee. You go to the window to watch as the snowflakes fall peacefully and silently to the already-blanketed ground. As you go to take your first sip of coffee, a familiar sound fills the air.
The peace is broken. Suddenly, you remember you have toddlers and you actually hate snowy days. Either the children will go crazy and destroy your home from being cooped up, or you will spend an hour dressing them for the Arctic so they can spend precisely seven minutes outside before their “hands are too cold.” Both options leave a parent wanting to hide under the covers.
Desperate for a project to pass the time and somehow placate the Child Who Can Talk (who will ask to go outside until one of you dies from exhaustion), you wrack your brain.
One of my favorite books as a child was about a little pioneer girl whose family built a cabin in the woods. Even though they didn’t have any money, they always seemed to come up with the most charming things to do when the weather was bad. (There was that one exception of making a balloon out of a pig’s bladder. Couldn’t really wrap my head around that one).
Suddenly: IDEA. There was a part of that book where they made “snow candy.” If you’ve never heard of it, it is exactly what it sounds like: boiled sugar hardened on the snow. In the case of the book to which I am referring, they used maple syrup.
Hang on! I have maple syrup! I have snow! I think I’m excited! These crazy kids and I are gonna make the best darn snow candy EVER.
To make it the “best darn snow candy ever,” though, I suppose we’d better do something unexpected, something MORE than the basic recipe; and round these parts, that means I’m gonna add some herbs.
Hmm. A certain Swiss throat lozenge comes to mind. Love those, (have even made them), but not really what I’m going for today.
The lozenges are made with herbs traditionally used for chest cold and sore throats, such as:
Osha Root (Lovage porterii)
White Horehound (Marubium vulgare)
Echinacea (Echinacea purpurea)
Mullein (Verbascum thapsus)
Sage (Salvia officinalis)
Bee Balm (Monarda fistulosa)
These are all fantastic, flavorful herbs that I, personally, like the taste of. And if you have a little one with the dreaded Winter Cough and want to kill two birds with one stone, by all means use these herbs in your candy.
For me, though, I’m going to go a spicier route. I have selected a mix of mainly warming herbs (for obvious reasons) with a dash of echinacea for an immunity boost. Think maple chai tea. How bad could that be?
I cheated a bit in this recipe, since I have found that the longer it takes to prepare something, the less likely the children will be willing to participate.
It may shock you, but we drink a lot of tea. There is a particular brand and flavor I love in the winter months that is essentially a caffeine-free chai. It contains cinnamon, chicory, black pepper, cloves, cardamom, ginger, and carob. I love the flavor and so I am going to infuse it in my candy.
Side note: “Carob” is a new one for me. It is a Mediterranean tree called Ceratonia siliqua, and the pods are what is typically used in food and drink. They are roasted and used as a chocolate substitute in many recipes. Sounds good to me!
I have also added a little fenugreek which, like most of the herbs in the tea bag, is warming and fantastic for digestion. It has the added bonus of imparting it’s own, maple-like flavor to the candy.
Let’s get to our recipe before the snow melts!
Herb-Infused Maple Snow Candy
Yield: about 6 lollies
1 cup of pure maple syrup
1 bag of Bengal Spice©️ Tea
1 tsp echinacea (mine is from here)
1 tsp fenugreek seeds
Cake or brownie pan
Popsicle sticks or Pretzel rods
1. Place your herbs, tea bag, and maple syrup in a heat-safe container, such as a Pyrex measuring cup. Heat over low-medium heat in a water bath or double boiler for at least twenty minutes, preferably thirty. (You can do this step ahead of time, if you want. Just store the syrup in a clean jar and refrigerate.)
2. Strain herbs and tea bag from the syrup through cheesecloth
3. Pour strained syrup into small saucepan
4. Take your cake pan outside and pack it with fresh snow. Bring inside and place in freezer. (This is where the children can help)
5. Heat your syrup over medium-high heat to just boiling (just as you begin to see bubbles break the surface). Stir and boil for 10-12 minutes. If you like, you can use a candy thermometer. It should measure 240 degrees Fahrenheit, which is soft ball stage. But otherwise just boil it for 10 minutes or so.
6. Pour heaping spoonfuls in 6 long strips across your snow. Take a pretzel rod or popsicle stick and place at one end of the oval. Make sure it sticks, then roll the stick so that the candy coats it. (Careful, it’s HOT.) Do one at a time, as they will cool quickly. In between pours, return the pan to the oven burner on low to keep the syrup warm.
7) Pop the lollies candy-side down right back into the snow to let them harden fully (only takes a few minutes). Just a note, these are chewy and taffy-like, so they will start to melt a little at room temperature. Best to enjoy them right away.
8) That’s it! Enjoy, stay healthy, and may you look forward to snowy days a little more. ♥️