My Maple Sugar Massacre

It’s easy to contemplate your stupidity when you’re scraping hardened maple syrup off your ceiling. And out of your armpit.  Uh, huh … that particular contemplation seems to come quite naturally.

I mean what else are you going to think about at that point?  How smart could you be if you have maple syrup in these places?  That wouldn’t even be smart if it were part of some ill advised sexy game.

But I’m getting a bit ahead of myself here.  It all started 24 hours ago when that ruggedly handsome guy from “Dirty Jobs” looked me right in the eye and declared his love for me. Er … um … I mean he made maple syrup.  He also spent some time making maple sugar candy, which I haven’t thought about in years!

I’m always too cheap to buy the $2 lump of sugar in the shape of a maple leaf, but it always looks so gooood.  And just like that I had decided to make my own maple sugar candies.  How hard could it be?  All it is, is boiled maple syrup.  That ruggedly handsome guy said so.  As did a bevy of other “Internet professionals” I came across when looking up recipes.  “Easy as pie”, they said.  “Couldn’t be simpler.”  “A delicious homemade treat”.  Buttholes.

Here is a play by play of my experience.

1.  Buy Maple Syrup.  Cost $13.

2.  Buy plastic Maple Leaf mold, that’s actually supposed to be used for chocolate.  (couldn’t find a proper silicone one)  Cost $4

3.  Pour lovely, sweet goodness that is known as Maple Syrup into pan.

4.  Check “Internet professional”  directions again to make sure all I have to do is boil and then cool it in a pan.  Yup.  Check.

5.  Heat Maple Syrup to 240 degrees Fahrenheit.

6.  This is where things start to go horribly wrong.  It’s gotten big.  Very, very big.  Like a Maple Syrup afro.

7.  Switch to a bigger pot and everything’s running smoothly again.  Crap.  Whisk seems to be cemented to the counter.  Huh, that’s weird.

8.  O.K., as per my instructions as given by some idiot, I pour the whole mess into a “cooling” pan.  Let cool until 200 degrees.  Good fine.  Just enough time to Twitter.

9.  Back to the pan and … a rock hard mess.  I’m prettttyyyy sure this is wrong.  The “Internet professional”, however doesn’t have pictures so I can’t be positive.  But I’m pretty sure this isn’t how it’s supposed to look just before I “pour” it into the maple leaf molds.  Nope.

10.  Start all over with the pan, new Maple Syrup, the thermometer, heat it up to 240 degrees,  but THIS time I add butter.  A different “Internet professional” advised this.  They also said to go straight from the pot to the molds.  No resting period in a pan.  Good.  Finally an “Internet professional” who obviously knows what they’re talking about.  This should work.  I’m running out of Maple Syrup here.

11.  Stir with wooden stick.  As advised by “Internet professional”.  Um … O.K.  Just as well, since my whisk is still stuck to the counter.

12.  Should be ready to pour into the molds now.  But … oofff … it’s kindda hard already.  Crap!  Nope.  Cooled down instantly.  So I try to just shove the molten hot sugar into the molds with my finger.  Smell burning plastic.  Wonder if I’m wearing rubber gloves.  No.   Remember the molds are actually meant for chocolate and not blindingly hot sugar stuff.

13.  This is NOT WORKING.  I’m out of Maple Syrup, so I shove the remains of my second batch into the microwave to melt it again.  Set the timer for 2 minutes.  Seems reasonable.  Twitter here I come.  DING!  Maple syrup must be melted!  I turn my head towards the microwave and notice my house is on fire. Shit.  Sorry for the swearing, but honest to God …. shit.

Realize the house is not on fire, but there is smoke POURING out of the microwave.  I open it and am knocked sideways by the Smoke Monster’s bigger and meaner drunk Uncle.  Billowing, billowing smoke so thick I couldn’t see my dish inside the microwave.

This picture is an extremely poor representation of what I saw.  I had to run and get my camera … ’cause I’m a blogger … and by then the smoke had mostly dissipated throughout the rest of the house, my hair and into my favourite t-shirt.


14.  This is no way looks like what the ruggedly handsome host of Dirty Jobs made.  Hell … he wasn’t even dirty at the end of it.  I am.  As is my house.  And oddly, my armpit.

1st batch. I gnawed on this for a while.

Batch #3. Uch.



Internet professionals lie.  Shocker.  Making Maple Sugar is NOT easy, not simple and does this look delicious to YOU???

Total cost:  $13 Maple Syrup + $4 candy mold + $150 new microwave ’cause I can’t get the stink outta mine.

And that my dears is why sometimes it doesn’t pay to be cheap.  I really should have just spend the $2.



  1. John Price says:

    This Karen. I am looking for recipe for making maple sugar candy in my microwave. I am glad I came across your post first. It reminds me that I cannot take my eyes off this recipe for a second, and that when you write something on the net, it could be there forever. Thanks for this wonderfully written post and for reminding the rest of us that it okay to fail. Since I already bought the maple syrup, I am committed. Besides, it is time for a new microwave.

    • Karen says:

      LOL. I should give it another shot. It’s been YEARS since I tried it. Although my microwave is relatively new … :) ~ karen!

  2. Katie Short says:

    Forgot I had a question. I wonder if it would make any difference if you were to go straight from sap to candy? Or from recently-made syrup from home rather than from the bottle? As sugar ages, sometimes the structure can change and become wrong for certain applications. Honey is famous for it, though also famous for its distinct ability to be returned to a usable state. Crap. Now I’m going to have to try. Crap. Butthole.:)

    • Karen says:

      I have no idea Katie, lol. But I’ll tell you this. It takes a LOT of sap to make a little bit of syrup and it takes a lot of syrup to make a little bit of candy. So keep that in mind. If it were me I’d make the syrup and buy the candies. For many, many reasons. ;) ~ karen!

  3. Katie Short says:

    Holy hilarity, Batman! I got here from a Pinterest posting of your “I’d tap that” article. I’m so glad I looked at the bottom of that post, to “other articles you might like”. I was sad this morning, for reasons far too serious to go into here. This made me laugh. Hard. “Buttholes”. “My house is on fire, had to take a picture”. I’m sorry you had the frustration, but glad you could see the humor! I’m now determined to hunt down the maples on our new property and tap them for syrup. But though I have pretty good luck with candy-making and sugar work, I think I’ll leave this one to whoever puts those tiny pieces in their pretty little boxes! Who knows if you’ll see this, nearly 5 years after you published the article, but if you do, know it is still out there, and still bringing someone joy!

  4. Donna Layden says:

    I am laughing and crying, I looked at the internet recipe and thought wow I am going to make that for Thanksgiving, I purchased the PC Maple Syrup on sale for $10.99 used the whole bottle purchased 3 molds at $2.75 each, and a candy thermometer $3.05. Mine didn’t turn out at all, in fact it didn’t harden up, I poured it into the moulds, still soft, I put it in the freezer overnight ” ok by morning they will be perfect” no still soft, I couldn’t get it out of the moulds, everything in the garbage along with my $22.29

  5. DeeDee Lee says:

    Bahahahaha! Did your poor cats ever get the sap out of their fur?

  6. DeeDee Lee says:

    I laughed so hard I was choking. You have a gift with words, if not with maple syrup.

  7. Kevin Eidsmore says:

    You know how I came across this site? I actually typed in ‘hardened maple syrup’ into Yahoo!s search engine: looking for a coating for a boat or car. I’m thinking of making a boat with mostly ‘dense’ styrofoam which is a new stronger kind on the market recently.. & then adding a coating of some sort to layer it in extra hard stuff that’s low cost. There’s some good pics here Karen & certainly that butter looks awefully nasty (& I don’t mean that in a good way)! My other natural thing so far is hardened honey.. both of which I have yet to try.. & now know how easy it is; come on Karen, how HARD could it B? LOL! -Thetaplex PC / Kevin E.

  8. Erica Filpi says:

    This kinda stuff happens to me a lot. Red crayons and microwave don’t get along either.

  9. Sherry Sardi says:

    That was HILARIOUS!!!
    I was just trying to google info on how to fix my scorched maple sugar pan and I found this!!!! ROFLMBO!
    Thanks for the laugh. Now, back to my dilemma.

    • Karen says:

      Hah! Yeah. I’ve since taught myself to make maple syrup (from my tree in the backyard). But will never attempt sugar again. Ever. No. No I will not. ~ karen!

  10. tami says: sorry on your candy making experiment but really enjoyed reading your story lol! Maybe you should stick to your talent of writing …sooo funny.. you are a great storyteller!

  11. andrea meyers says:

    time to retry this Karen? I still really need it to work, the maple leaves are $4 here!? they’re my mamas favorite candy! help! lol.

  12. Marcia O'Duggan says:

    Love the smoke monster reference!

  13. Luvena says:

    Lol! I followed your link from the apartment therapy, the homies top 6 diy blogs… I just laughed my tush off! So funny! I am definitely subscribing! :-)

  14. Tracy says:

    I also just tried to make maple candy, and I didn’t have a thermometer, figured me and my gas stove could find that fine 235 degrees just fine with paying attention, the first time I boiled it, I was pretty sure I got to 235, and I laid off the heat and brought it to 175 according to my meat thermometer, stirred and stirred to no avail, so trying not to waste my syrup, as I boiled half of a $21 32oz bottle I tried reheating it and stirring again, not turning into candy, eventually I just burned the syrup and filled my house with smoke, what I poured hardened pretty fast but tastes like crap and is really dark, only place nearby that has maple candy wasn’t open. . . internet recipes seemed pretty manageable, but not today. . .

    • Karen says:

      Really? Geez, sorry to hear that. My own experience with maple candy went superbly. I don’t know how you could have screwed it up. Huh. A mystery. ;). – karen!

  15. wendy says:

    I love this! I was so ready to try and make these.. Until reading this! I too, am at work and just about fell in the floor laughing! Love your blogs!

  16. Alexandra Dare says:

    Does your microwave *still* smell like burnt maple syrup???

    You know, I love that you are not too proud to post a “fail” on here. I think too often bloggers tend to demonstrate how perfect they are… Like, look at me, I can cook fabulous meals and take fabulous pictures and homeschool my little boogers to be Rhodes scholars and write bestselling books and… *ding!* Ooh, my caramel apple sticky buns are ready!

    I mean, don’t get me wrong, that’s nice and all, but we can’t all be Wonder Woman.

    But YOU, my friend, are a real person, living your life, doing “stuff.” I love it. And that is why I read your blog every freaking day <3

  17. Langela says:

    OK. While laughing all the way thru this post, my mind kept thinking, “You mean you can make candy out of maple syrup? Gotta try it, gotta try it” I also like to learn from the internet pros, but I usually learn what not to do and how to fix what I made so I didn’t just waste all this time and money and have nothing to show for it. Was that a run-on sentence? Some of my best recipes come out of mistakes trying to follow someone else’s recipe. The only problem is that I usually can’t duplicate my recipe ever again. My poor husband has taken to saying, “That was awesome, so I guess I will never have that again!” So I am constantly on the lookout for new recipes. Maple sugar candy, here I come!

    • Karen says:

      You are a brave, brave woman. I never did buy a new microwave. The old one STILL reeks of burnt maple syrup.

      • Langela says:

        An interesting idea. I read somewhere that putting a cut onion, cut side up, on a plate in the middle of your kitchen will remove odors from the room. I never tried it cuz I thought it probably just covered up the smells with the smell of onion. But if you’re desperate maybe it would work in your microwave???

      • Langela says:

        Here’s another one. Fill a cup half full on vinegar and set in micro for 2 minutes on high. Leave in the rest of the night. In morning, heat for another minute. Remove it and wipe out moisture. Leave the door open till lunch to dissipate vinegar smell.

      • Karen says:

        Ohhhhh Langela. I’ve tried it all! The only thing that’ll get the smell out of this microwave is chucking it. But I’m too cheap. It’s a conundrum.

      • Langela says:

        Sorry! Your mind probably works like mine and you’ve about driven yourself crazy thinking,” There’s gotta be a solution…What if I try…” Is there some kind of carbon filter in them? I know I have a little vent thingy and wonder if it contains a filter. Hmmm. I love things that get my mind moving, until it drives me completely nuts! I walk a fine line every day between nuts and almost nuts!

  18. Tickled Red says:

    You would think that the title “Dirty Job” would have sent out a waring bell. I guess we are a lot a like and that part of us is broken. We like to try things the hard way. I bet batch one still tasted yummy delicious. Can you grind it in a processor and make crumble?

  19. Yikes! That’s what you get for trying to follow the footsteps of Mike Rowe.

    I am SO never trying this.

    • Karen says:

      You would be well advised to never even speak of this, let alone try it. I’ll even lend you the $2 to go and buy a maple shaped hunk of sugar. :)

      • Tigersmom says:

        I think Mike Rowe is a maple shaped hunk of sugar.

        Plus, I seriously LOVE his voice. And that he has a vocabulary disproportionately large to the ones of most men who are maple shaped hunks of sugar. Your fella also being one of the rare ones with a sizeable vocabulary (ablutions being a word he uses regularly, and with regard to regularity I might add.) And no disrepect to his voice either…”Will they eat it?!?”: D

      • Pati Gulat says:

        Mike Rowe is INDEED a maple-shaped hunk of sugar…and I bet he’s just as delicious ! YUM-YUM !!

  20. I just followed you over from Design*Sponge and I just had to say, this post is hilarious. I especially love the “Buttholes” comment. Made me laugh loudly. At work. woops.

    • Karen says:

      I LOVE to make people laugh out loud. Funny thing is … I never know what’s gonna make em laugh. Good to know “buttholes” is a keeper. :)

  21. Tricia Rose says:

    There, there – I’m sure there’s a ruggedly handsome Dirty Jobs expert out there who is just twitching to tell you how to get smoke smell out of a microwave. Trust him.

    • Karen says:

      The only ruggedly handsome thing that will help this microwave is the guy selling me a new one at Home Depot.

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