Life will be a lot easier if you remember to pack the candy thermometer! Otherwise keep a clear glass container of cold water handy to drip candy in from time to time to estimate the stage you’re at.
This is especially for winter. Boil 2 cups of genuine maple syrup over very low heat until it reaches about 233° F on the candy thermometer (when dropped into ice water the syrup will spin a soft, 2″ thread). Let cool for about five or ten minutes, then drizzle syrup on to clean snow with a spoon. It will make threads you can gather up and eat, and they are delicious. If you have a strong arm, though, you can take the lukewarm syrup and beat it until it becomes lighter in color and creamy in texture, then pour it into a buttered pan. Cut when cool. Transfer leftovers–if there are any–to a Ziploc bag as this candy dries out if left in the open air.
In a large, heavy saucepan combine sugar, cream of tartar and cream and stir over a high heat until sugar is dissolved. Bring to a boil and boil for three minutes, stirring constantly and gently. After the three minutes are up, add the butter, cooking and stirring until candy reaches soft-crack stage (about 270° F by the candy thermometer). Candy at this point will be thick and light-coloured. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Pour candy into a buttered pan, cutting into squares when cool. Winter Camping Treat: Pour spoonfuls of candy directly from the saucepan onto clean snow (snow must be very high to do this), drizzling across the surface of the snow so it doesn’t collect and melt down to the ground. Leave for a minute to cool, then allow the kids (or whoever) to collect it up and stuff into their mouths. Keeps everybody busy for awhile. Have warm water, soap and a towel ready for sticky fingers and faces.