Maple sugar was the first kind of sugar produced in North America. Canada’s First Nations taught early settlers how to harvest sap from maple trees and boil it down to make syrup. According to the federal government, Canada produces 85 percent of the world’s maple syrup—most of it from Quebec. It’s no surprise, then, that French Canadians have a storied history with maple and other sugary treats.
As spring—the season to harvest maple syrup—arrives, it’s a great time to try out some of these sweet recipes.
Sucre à la crème
Literally translated as “sugar to the cream,” the main ingredients needed to make this traditional French Canadian fudge are just that: sugar and cream. The result is more grainy and crumbly than other types of fudge. It can be also be flavoured with pure maple syrup or set with chopped nuts. Recipe: www.allrecipes.com
Tarte au sucre
Known in English as sugar pie, this sweet, sticky treat is like pecan pie without the nuts. Though traditionally made with maple sugar, most modern recipes use brown sugar instead. Be sure to serve in thin slices because it’s quite rich. Recipe: www.food.com.
In Quebec lore, Pouding chômeur—literally translated as pudding for the unemployed—is a simple dessert created during the struggles of the Great Depression. Top basic cake batter with syrup and bake for a gooey treat. Modern versions of this recipe feature richer ingredients. Recipe: www.cbc.ca
A favourite of Quebec’s Winter Carnival, this sweet, boozy beverage warms in the winter and summer alike. Add a splash of maple syrup to the traditional mix of vodka, brandy, sherry, and port for something a little sweeter. Recipe: www.carnaval.qc.ca
Feves au lard au sirop d’érable
Slow-cooked baked beans with pork fat are a hearty comfort food popular at winter festivals. Of course, maple syrup stewed with the beans makes this dish an especially French Canadian tradition. Recipe: www.ricardocuisine.com