This recipe is a miracle of science: Add a little baking soda to a dark, maple caramel and soon you have this impossibly crunchy, airy candy. I sprinkle the candy with sea salt to cut the sweetness. —Merrill Stubbs
Test Kitchen Notes
This candy recipe is the perfect combination of sweet and salty, and you're going to love giving it out as gifts to all of your family and friends. You'll also enjoy the chemical reactions and color transformations that take place right in your own kitchen, thanks to the magic of baking soda, the secret ingredient. But that's another wonderful part of this recipe: All you need is four ingredients (sugar, maple syrup, previously mentioned baking soda, and sea salt, most of which you probably already have), and it'll take just 15 minutes of cook time; the rest is letting the candy harden in a cool, dry place. It'll become your go-to whenever you need a quick homemade gift or sweet treat for the kids. Keep in mind however that a candy thermometer or instant-read thermometer will be very beneficial here, to get the temperature of the sugar just right, but if you don't have one, you can watch the video below for the visual cue.
As it says in the recipe, you must try your hardest not to smooth out the blob after it comes out of the pan, even though you'll desperately want to do so. That's the key to get that really light, airy texture. Once you break apart the chunks, you'll see what we mean! Again, watch the video to see what it should look like, and keep the spatula way. Divide the chunks among some pretty jars, tie them up with a bow, and your holiday/hostess/teacher/whatever gift is ready to go. —The Editors
- Prep time 15 minutes
- Cook time 15 minutes
- Makes About 2 cups
1 1/4 cups
1 1/2 teaspoons
flaky sea salt
- Line a rimmed baking sheet with a Silpat mat or greased parchment.
- In a medium, heavy saucepan, combine the sugar, maple syrup, and 1/4 cup cold water. Heat over medium-high heat, stirring, just until the sugar dissolves. After this point, do not stir—you can swirl the pot occasionally if you'd like. Let the mixture come to a boil and cook until a candy or instant-read thermometer registers nearly 300°F and is a dark amber color (this should take 5 to 7 minutes).
- Working quickly, remove the pot from the heat and thoroughly whisk in the baking soda just to combine. Immediately pour the mixture onto the prepared sheet, using a heatproof spatula to scrape it from the pot. It will be tempting, but do not smooth the mixture—you'll get rid of all those air bubbles!
- Quickly sprinkle the surface of the candy with the salt. Set the baking sheet in a cool, dry place and let the candy cool. When it's hard, break it apart into uneven chunks with your fingers. Note: You can dip the candy pieces in melted semisweet chocolate and let them cool again for an even richer treat.