When snow arrives, people react in various ways. We sometimes want to just hibernate inside with a good cup of hot cocoa or java. Other times we want to just frolic in the snow, build snow forts, snow angels, snowmen, ski, snowboard, toboggan etc. While we love all of those things we also love this great Canadian tradition: Cabane à Sucre.
My son is 8 and we now live in BC in a typically warmer climate than what we were used to. My husband grew up here, but I grew up in Saskatoon, SK and then we lived in Alberta for 13 years where we also had our son. As a result, our son was used to the winters having lived the first 6 years of his life there and I was used to colder climates too. Since moving here 2 years ago, my son and I in particular, have really missed the snow.
This year we got quite the dump. Last weekend we had 30 cm of snow within 2 days and it has mostly stuck around. My son immediately wanted to get out and shovel! Oh the excitement! Even to dust the cars off was exciting! He then wanted to crawl through the snow, make snow angels and within 2 days we also made an awesome 2 entry way snow fort!
In Alberta, we went to a number of outdoor festivals in the winter that were a lot of fun and included making “Cabane à Sucre”, which means “Sugar Shack” in French. It is called this, because typically it is made in the winter by pouring hot maple syrup on top of snow that you collect. You then make the treat in a shack and so therefore it is called a Sugar Shack. In both Alberta and BC, my son would also make this at school in January for a time of year that is often celebrated in Quebec called “Quebec Winter Festival” or “Carnaval de Quebec”. He goes to a French emersion school, so some of these traditions are especially fun to celebrate. Overall, Cabane à Sucre is a very “Canadian” thing to make and to try. It adds novelty and a special treat throughout the snowy season.
A Great Canadian Tradition: Cabane à Sucre
Ingredients: Maple Syrup (That’s it!)
It is a special treat and very yummy. While you might want it every day, it is made out of pure maple syrup and definitely a special treat for the holidays!
Snow or shaved ice, Cake pan or cookie sheet, popsicle stick or similar (we used chop sticks)
How to Make Cabane à Sucre
Prep the snow:
Option A: If you have another adult along have them go with the kids to get some fresh snow during step 2-3. If you don’t have snow you can shave ice, but snow is easier and more fun. Put the snow on a cookie sheet, or a cake pan and make sure it is full of snow and then flatten it out the best you can.
Option B: Get the snow or shaved ice ahead of time so that you can keep an eye on the boiling maple syrup.
Pour Maple Syrup into Sauce Pan:
Put the maple syrup in a sauce pan, we used about half a bottle, but it wasn’t one of those big jugs, just a smaller bottle – Also, gauge the amount on how many people will have some.
Boil the Maple Syrup:
Boil the maple syrup while whisking/stirring often, then bring the heat down to medium – between 5-7. Keep it bubbling, but not bubbling over.
Let it foam, let it foam, let if foam
It will begin to look foamy, this is good….keep going and keep whisking. If the heat seems too low you can always raise it a touch as well.
It will start to thicken a bit, but you don’t want it to caramelize too much or fully evaporate either in the sauce pan.
Checking when the Maple Syrup is ready
Option A: To check that the maple syrup is ready, you can use a candy thermometer and when it is at 238 degree Fahrenheit, it is ready.
Option B: We didn’t have a thermometer like that, so another good tip is take a small spoonful of the hot maple syrup and put it in a glass of cold water, if it just dissolves then it is not ready yet. If, however, you put the spoonful of maple syrup in the cold water and it globs together a bit and sinks to the bottom…..then it is good and ready! Yay!
Take the maple syrup off the heat
Take the maple syrup off the heat and let it sit for a few minutes in the saucepan. You will notice the foam starts to go away and the nice dark colour of maple syrup is left.
Pour the Maple Syrup
Then you are ready to go with a ladle or some kind of cup to pour with and then pour long “bacon looking” strips of the maple syrup across the nicely flattened snow.
Let the maple syrup sit
Let the maple syrup rest on the snow for just a few seconds
Roll it up
Use a stick of some sort and put it on the maple syrup and start rolling it to the side and it makes a nice yummy maple syrup treat to eat. (For sticks, you can use Popsicle sticks, chop sticks, etc.)
Dab, Cool and Eat!
Once it’s all rolled up dab it on the snow a few extra times to make sure it’s cooled well, especially before little tongues touch it. Then eat and enjoy the special treat!
Hope you enjoy this yummy wintery treat as much as our family did! Cheers!
||Krista lives in BC’s Fraser Valley where she enjoys life with her family. Two years ago, she moved there from the Prairies and is enjoying learning all the new adventures that BC has to hold. She works as a nurse in Public Health and also enjoys writing poetry and music. Hiking, canoeing and camping are being explored all over again with her family and she is looking forward to introducing her son to snowboarding. Life is Poetry! Check out her beautiful poetry blog Stillpoint Synaxis.|