In this week’s Martin and Sylvia: More Adventures story, “The Treeclimber’s Code,” Martin wants to climb an extra tall maple tree, so Daddy introduces him to the first rule of the “treeclimber’s code”—a climber must be able to climb entirely on their own with no help. When Martin decides to climb a spruce tree, instead, and gets up higher than ever, Daddy introduces him to the second rule—only climb as high as you can comfortably get down. When Martin is finally down and covered in sticky sap, Daddy introduces him to the third rule—climbers clean off their own pine sap!
Inspired by poor Martin’s sap covered hands — as well as Halloween, which is always a good time for homemade candy, in my book — this week I decided to have my own little taffy pull, something I’ve wanted to do every since I read about Anne and Diana making taffy in the childhood classic Anne of Green Gables.
One thing I’ll tell you that Anne didn’t cover: do not even attempt to make taffy at home without first setting out about a half-stick of butter next to your work area. I had oiled my hands up well, but ended up needing to be rescued by my family when the taffy started gluing itself to me after only the fourth or fifth pull. If not for my nice husband, I might be there still.
Once I overcame that hiccup, though, I got into a nice rhythm—pull, pull, butter right hand, pull, pull, butter left hand. The taffy came together beautifully and tastes amazing! If you’re looking for a bit of old-fashioned fun for Halloween, give it a try.
Orange Salt Water Taffy
2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons corn starch
1 cup light corn syrup
¾ cup water
2 tablespoons butter (plus about half a stick more for greasing your hands and equipment)
½ teaspoon orange extract
1 teaspoon orange food coloring (optional)
Butter a large glass or metal bowl, a heat safe spatula, and the blades of a pair of kitchen scissors. Measure the flavoring and food coloring (if using) into a small dish.
Cut about 50, 6-inch squares of waxed paper.
Put a half-stick of butter on a small plate near where you'll be working. Basically, get everything you will need all prepared, so that you don't have to do it with sticky-taffy-hands later.
Then, set that all to the side, and mix the sugar and cornstarch in a large saucepan. Add the corn syrup, water, and butter. Stir everything together and put the pot over medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Allow the mixture to come to a boil for about 3 minutes, thenusing a candy thermometerheat it to 260 degrees Fahrenheit.
Working quickly, remove the pan from the heat, add the flavoring and food coloring, and stir. Then pour the taffy into the prepared bowl, using the butter spatula to scrape the sides.
Next, let the taffy cool for 20-30 minutes. Once it’s cool enough to touch, grease your hands copiously, then stretch the taffy between your fingers. Use one hand to catch the center of the taffy, and pull it out again. You’re now “pulling the taffy”. Continue in this manner—remembering to re-grease your hands every few pulls—for about 15 minutes, or until the taffy is smooth and lighter in color.
Once the taffy looks good, pull it out into one long rope and cut off 2-inch pieces with the greased scissors. (It helps to have a friend for this part.) Wrap the taffy in individual waxed paper squares, and enjoy within 2-3 weeks.
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About the Author
The Sparkle Kitchen Series is created by Meryl Carver-Allmond.
Meryl lives in a hundred-year-old house near the prairie with her sweet husband, two preschoolers, one puppy, one gecko, and about ten chickens. While she's been writing since she could pick up a pen, in recent years she's discovered the joy of photography, too. She feels lucky to be able to combine those skills, along with a third passion — showing people that cooking for themselves can be healthy and fun — in her Sparkle Kitchen posts.