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Pour the maple syrup into a sorta high-sided, heavy-bottomed saucepan and crank the heat to medium-high. As the syrup heats, it will begin to bubble vigorously. Don’t stir it unless the hot, sticky, bubbling syrup rises perilously close to the top edge of the pan, then you can use a long-handled wooden spoon to stir it and the bubbling will subside.
Boil until the syrup reduces to about half its original volume and turns darker in color and thicker in consistency and reaches 257°F to 262°F (125°C to 128°C) on a candy thermometer or deep-fry thermometer, which is the hard ball stage in candy making. This should take about 20 minutes. As the syrup cooks, watch it carefully so it doesn’t boil over. You may need to reduce the heat occasionally to keep the reducing syrup from scorching.
Once the syrup reaches the requisite temperature, remove the pan from the heat and start stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon. Continue to stir until the syrup lightens and thickens in texture and eventually becomes granulated and similar in look and feel to light brown sugar, about 5 minutes. The transformation from liquid to granulated sugar happens really quite quickly. (You could opt to use your stand mixer or a hand mixer, but it goes surprisingly quickly when you beat it by hand. Trust us. Though you’ll probably need to switch back and forth between right and left hands.)
Sift the maple sugar through a strainer to remove the larger clumps and then toss those larger clumps into your food processor and whir until they become granulated. Then mix this back into the other maple sugar. Store the maple sugar in an airtight container at room temperature and use it 1:1 in place of granulated white sugar in almost any baking recipe. Originally published January 2016.