[Henrietta] invented this maple candy that the feature of it was it was never sugary, it was always creamy… (Koert Burnham in a 1975 interview about Adirondack Mountain Creams)
For a couple of decades Essex-based Adirondack Mountain Creams tempted sweet toothed aficionados across the United States. Early in the 20th century the Burnhams’ authentic Adirondack maple sugar confections had become one of the most popular and most expensive candies in the country!
It’s no wonder that this delicious North Country confection marketed in a rustic (but elegant) Adirondack package was, according to Koert Burnham, popular “from Boston to Santa Barbara… [even though] it was the most expensive candy in the country at that time…” (Burnham, Koert. March 31, 1975 interview). Although Adirondack Mountain Creams candy was consumed across the United States, it was always manufactured at the Old Brick Schoolhouse in Essex, NY and then shipped across the country by railway express. (Essex on Lake Champlain)
Unfortunately the Burnhams sold the candy business early in the 20th century, and the maple sugar confections disappeared a short while later.
Adirondack Mountain Creams: Gone But Not Forgotten
But Adirondack Mountain Creams are far from forgotten.
Rumor: Adirondack Mountain Creams may be resurrected. Soon. Ssshhh...— virtualDavis (@virtualDavis) November 29, 2012
It’s still top-secret, but I may have sampled an Adirondack Mountain Cream “taste test” at the Essex Ice Cream Cafe in December along with several other Essex residents who stopped in for lunch and were rewarded with a sample of Burnham’s delicate confection. The endlessly creative (and always smiling) Elaine Miller who has been conjuring up winning breakfast and lunch originals (yesterday: gluten free wrap with ham, avocado, spinach, cucumber and cherry tomatoes!), and since mid-autumn the cafe is now freeing Adirondack Mountain Creams from the dusty grip of history.
Adirondack Mountain Creams: A Tradition Reborn?
You heard right! Miller and cafe owner Wayne Gryk have exciting plans for resurrecting the nostalgic maple treat that was manufactured in Essex a century ago. Miller explained that the recipe is essentially a maple syrup based praline topped with a pecan. Judging from — not one, not two, but three! — Adirondack Mountain Cream samples that I devoured (to ensure that I was able to offer accurate feedback, of course,) the Essex Ice Cream Cafe may soon be known for yet another Essex tradition: authentic Adirondack maple sugar pralines. The perfect winter balance to summer ice cream cones.
But don’t just take my word for it. “It’s amazing!” Jan Fortune gushed as she nibbled her Adirondack Mountain Cream. Denise Wilson agreed. “I love it,” she said, grinning ear to ear. Bill Amadon, Lauren Murphy and Wayne Gryk also tasted the pralines while I was at the cafe, and all concurred. Sublime. Make more. Please.
Yesterday Miller told me that she has been experimenting more and has concluded that the grade of maple syrup is critical. Lighter is better. She described a recent attempt with dark maple syrup in which the texture had become too much like caramel. And while it sounded delicious to me, she reminded me that the original authentic Adirondack Mountain Creams perfected by the Burnhams were creamy and delicate. So for now she continues testing and perfecting. And hopefully soon we’ll have the opportunity to savor the sweet taste of history.