Winter is a difficult season to survive because it can seem to be never ending. Finally though towards the end of February, though the bitter cold temperatures persist, Quebecers begin to see a (desperately needed) light at the end of the winter tunnel. In addition to slightly longer days, February brings another pleasureful perk to our lives; maple season.
Quebec maple season runs from the end of February to the beginning of April during which time many maple lovers go sugaring-off at their nearby sugar shack or cabane a sucre.
With such a remarkable indigenous product, those of us in the food industry obviously take advantage and create many seasonal maple delicacies to offer our clientele.
From pies and cookies, to donuts and cakes, maple desserts flood the market during this time. But we cannot talk about Quebec maple season and not mention Pouding Chomeur.
Literally translated to unemployed man’s pudding, but more commonly referred to as poor man’s pudding, this rich and decadent dessert has very humble origins. Created during the economic crisis in the 1930’s, this comfort food uses the cheapest ingredients available to yield the perfect pick-me-up food.
Pouding Chomeur is basically vanilla cake baked in syrupy sauce. You can make the sauce with or without maple syrup, but why forgo the best ingredient?
The ingredients of the cake are as simple as it gets: flour, butter, sugar, milk, eggs and baking powder. The sauce however does have more variation; there are simpler versions consisting of only brown sugar, maple syrup and water, and more complex richer variations that include 35% cream and butter. Needless to say, I prefer the richer recipes. If you look up Chomeur recipes, you will see a difference in the amounts of the ingredients, but the ingredients are always the same. My recipe is a very basic vanilla butter cake recipe, but with reduced sugar (to compensate for the ultra sweetness of the maple syrup sauce). The sauce is rich using maple syrup, butter and heavy cream.
Recipe: Maple Pouding Chomeur
½ cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups all purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 cup milk
1 c maple syrup
1 ½ cups brown sugar
1 ½ cups cream
1/3 cups butter
Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees.
For the cake:
Grease a 9×13 pan or Pyrex. Cream the butter and sugar until pale, light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and vanilla.
Combine your dry ingredients and add alternately with the milk to the batter. Set aside.
For the sauce:
Combine the maple syrup, brown sugar, cream and butter in a saucepan and bring to boil, stirring constantly.
Bake for 15 minutes, then ladle more sauce over the top. Bake for an additional 15-20 minutes, until the top is caramel brown and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
Pouding Chomeur is meant to be served warm. Simply scoop a healthy spoonful into a bowl or a small plate and enjoy. If you want to make this ahead of time, bake it completely and simply reheat in the oven for 15 minutes until warm again.
This simple but decadent confection is known as Quebec’s national dessert, and for good reason; it gives us that necessary pick-me-up when we need it the most.
I highly urge everyone to go to a sugar shack, buy some good maple syrup and make yourself a good Pouding Chomeur.
Enjoy the warmth and happy baking.