It’s spring in Vermont, and we all know what that means. It’s sugaring time!
The sap starts to flow in the maple trees, not to mention in the veins of the locals. There are bright blue tubing lines and metal buckets in the woods and in people’s front yards. The smell of fresh maple syrup seems to be everywhere, and it causes a Pavlovian response in the staunchest Vermonters.
I am a northern New England girl by birth and a French Canadian girl by heritage. Because of this, I’ve grown up with maple syrup flowing in my veins. It’s amazing to me how many things a French Canadian sugar house can cook with syrup (seriously, try poaching eggs in it instead of water).
My absolute favorite maple dessert that I’ve grown up with is a tried and true Quebec favorite, known to all Francophiles as pouding chomeur.
Pouding chomeur is a dessert that is thought to have been born in Depression-era Quebec, when factory workers’ culinary staples were rationed. The name itself translates literally to “pudding of the unemployed,” but most of us bilingual types usually call it “poor man’s pudding.” Back when it first came to be, the dessert consisted of a rich, dense batter baked in a thick caramel sauce. In the Depression, the sauce was made with brown sugar.
Nowadays, however, maple syrup has become the go-to ingredient.
Just like other regional recipes, pouding chomeur has distinct variations from one geographical area to another, and even from one family to the next. Most iterations of the dessert involve spreading the cake batter over the sauce before baking. However, my family’s technique is a bit different. Maman Gisele always placed the cake layer in the baking dish first, then poured the maple sauce over it so that it would seep through and form a cakey pudding layer at the bottom as it baked.
You’ll have to take my word for it, but my mouth is watering and my stomach is grumbling just thinking about it.
I’ve shared a special family recipe with you before, and Maman Gisele gave me permission to share this one with you too. Because it’s easily doubled, it’s a great dessert to share with a large group of people. So, without further ado, here is my family’s take on this classic Quebec treat.
Do you have any family recipes that use maple syrup? Have you changed a traditional recipe to incorporate Vermont’s liquid gold? Share your sweet ideas!