Oh, Canada. There is so much to tell you about our trip to Montreal but you know that I like to keep it brief so I’ll focus on two amazing places we visited and one amazing dessert that I discovered. On our first or second day in Montreal we took Bryan’s grandparents to a cabane à sucre in Rigaud, just west of the city. It was my first visit to a sugar shack and it certainly did not disappoint. The Sucrerie de la Montagne is run by Pierre Faucher, a man who looks like Santa Claus and may be famous, as people kept asking him to pose for pictures with them. I’d read about the Sucrerie de la Montagne in the New York Times a few weeks ago, it is a nice article and you should check it out for a good description of the experience and some beautiful photos. For those of you who have never visited a sugar shack basically you can watch the maple sap being tapped and cooked down into syrup. You also sit down to a traditional Quebecois feast of assorted meats and gallons of maple syrup which you consume while musicians play and people dance. It is really fun and it was by far the best maple syrup I have ever consumed. I left with a whole bunch of syrup and looked forward to finding recipes to use it.
Fast forward to a few days later when Bryan and I ate dinner at Montreal’s legendary Au Pied de Cochon (PDC). The restaurant has gained international fame for its rustic meat-centered cuisine. To tell you the truth, even though some very reliable sources had convinced me to go, I had consumed more meat in my first few days in Canada than I normally consume in months at home and the prospect of more scared me. But let me tell you my friends, PDC is one of the best dining experiences I have ever had. The place is so full of love and good energy that it makes everything from the service to the food to decor feel like magic. I could go on and on and tell you about the salad we started with ( which was topped with a “puck” of “parts of the piglet” which were fried into some serious deliciousness) or the boudin tart that kind of blew my mind, but I won’t— I want to tell you about what we had for dessert: Pouding Chômeur.
PDC published a cookbook a couple of years ago and it really captures the essence of the restaurant. I couldn’t resist buying it when I saw that it contained recipes for both of my favorite dishes and I couldn’t wait to get home and share this dessert with you. Pouding Chômeur is translated as “poor man’s pudding”. It is basically a cake that is baked in a pan of caramel syrup. I’m not kidding. It is served at the restaurant, hot from the oven, in a bowl of bubbling caramel and despite the fact that we had already eaten way too much amazing food, it was incredible and we finished every last crumb. I had found my first recipe to make using some of the maple syrup I had bought. The recipe worked flawlessly and was just as delicious as it was at the restaurant.
A couple of notes: It seems funny to me that this is called “poor mans pudding” as it requires two cups of maple syrup and two cups of heavy cream. Oh well, maybe maple syrup was cheaper then. The recipe says this can be baked in a cake pan, and I am not sure how that would work. I know I should have been patient and tried that first so I could let you know, but didn’t. I made these as we had them in the restaurant in individual bowls. This is very sweet. For those of you that have already admitted you prefer salty (Michelle, Whitney, fresh365, jas, Phoo-D, Jesse, Rachel, greg, etc) this might not be the dessert for you. In doing some research on the recipe, I see that there are suggestions to serve it with creme fraiche or sour cream, both of which could help cut the sweetness. I had absolutely no problem with the sweetness. I also think that because this is rather sweet, it might serve more than it seems. Maybe smaller ramekins would be even better here? Bryan and I split one of these for dessert last night. Finally, please notice that the dough has to sit overnight in the refrigerator so this requires a little planning in advance.
Pouding Chômeur (adapted from the Au Pied de Cochon Cookbook)
- 6 oz butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 cups maple syrup
- 2 cups heavy cream
Combine the butter and sugar in stand mixer until smooth. Add the eggs and beat at medium speed until completely incorporated. Add the flour and baking powder and stir until the flour is completely incorporated. Refrigerate dough for at least 24 hours.
Preheat oven to 450°F. Bring the maple syrup and heavy cream to a boil is a saucepan. Turn off heat, add a pinch of salt and set aside to cool. Divide the dough among 5 or 6 ramekins or oven-safe bowls and set them on a large rimmed baking sheet. Fill each ramekin just over half full with 3/4 cup of the maple cream mixture. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the puddings are golden brown and a tester inserted into the center of each cake comes out clean. Let cool for 5 minutes, serve warm.
Heather J says:
March 26th, 2009 at 1:10 pm
Talk about calling my sweet tooth! OMG I am practically drooling. Sweet stuff, Tim!
March 26th, 2009 at 1:33 pm
Thanks for the suggestion of creme fraiche Tim. I think that would help cut the sweet and I would really love this dessert. I’m nuts about maple syrup and find the process of this recipe unique- can’t wait to give it a try! Thanks for getting the cookbook and sharing with us.
March 26th, 2009 at 1:35 pm
Love your website! I’m happy to hear you enjoyed Pied au Cochon – the executive chef Martin Picard is to be cooking at an underground restaurant event I’m attending this Sunday. Very excited indeed. Did you try the Canard en Conserve?
I grew up on Pouding Chomeur, my mom is Quebequoise. I’ll have to try your version.
The Duo Dishes says:
March 26th, 2009 at 1:38 pm
Mmmmmmmmmmmm. This was for the ‘poor man’??? That’s hilarious! It’s super rich in flavor…
March 26th, 2009 at 1:40 pm
I didn’t try the canard en conserve (or duck in a can for the non-french speakers) although we had a hard time resisting. I’ve heard it is amazing and will definitely try it next time. Picard is a genius! I’m glad you’re enjoying L+D.
March 26th, 2009 at 3:09 pm
As soon as I started reading about the restaurant you visited I thought of a show that was briefly on Food Network (Canada) called The Wild Chef.
I believe it was the meat heavy menu that made my mind go to that thought.
I am so glad you had a great time.
March 26th, 2009 at 3:26 pm
That’s like Oktoberfest for foodies!!!!
and not in October.
Lucky peeps and thx for recipe–love caramel and will try; maybe the whole pan version and report back…….
March 26th, 2009 at 7:21 pm
This sounds and looks amazing! Your trip seemed like a great experience, and full of delicious food. Nothing is ever too sweet for me, so I know I would love this. Thanks for sharing!
March 26th, 2009 at 8:48 pm
Looks very good, and this from a chocoholic!
March 27th, 2009 at 6:25 am
SMM: The host of Wild Chef was the owner/chef of Au Pied de Cochon, Martin Picard! I haven’t seen the show, but I would love to.
March 27th, 2009 at 5:40 pm
At first glance I thought this was tarte au sucre, which my mom made a couple of times after coming back from a holiday in Quebec ages ago… and then the recipe mysteriously disappeared. There wouldn’t happen to be a recipe for that in your book, would there??
March 28th, 2009 at 1:49 pm
Oh No!! I think I have to change my “last meal” choice — again. ANYTHING made with maple syrup is going to be delish!
March 29th, 2009 at 9:53 am
Mmmm, sounds yummy. I’m more about the sweet than the salty.
March 29th, 2009 at 3:10 pm
I make it whenever I miss home. I’ll have to try your recipe of “out of work” pouding. It was great to see a piece of Quebec today. thank you Now I have to go back to your baked fries recipe before my family gets their hopes up for pouding or sugar pie tonight.
March 30th, 2009 at 9:49 am
I love the cute little mound of cake in the ramekin. And with creme fraiche, I’m sure I’d find it amazing. Loved reading your about your travels in Canada, so glad you had a wonderful time.
Anya (from PassiFlora) says:
April 15th, 2009 at 1:27 pm
Nice to know that you enjoyed your trip to Montreal.
The poor man pudding was originally made with sugary sauce (sugar, water, a bit of butter) and the dough would not call for any cream, instead it used Crisco (vegetable grease). One of my mother-in-law’s cookbooks has a recipe from 1930/1940’s. I am planning on making it vegan and posting on my blog, but let me know if you would like a copy of an original recipe.
June 20th, 2009 at 8:29 pm
FYI this is how i found your site. I just ate at Au Pied de Cochon and was searching the internet for the recipe for this dessert (which we had there). It was like a double blessing! I love this site – the pictures are beautiful.
June 20th, 2009 at 9:19 pm
Thanks, Melissa! I LOVED Au Pied de Cochon and especially the dessert. Glad you found me!
September 10th, 2009 at 9:14 am
Indeed – I too grew up on this via my Quebecois parents and have not had it since I was a child. My mother did not use pure maple syrup but sugar, water and butter with some cooking maple syrup thrown in for flavor. I can imagine that it would be good with light amber maple syrup, tho at $30 a liter it would a bit pricey.
January 2nd, 2010 at 10:06 am
Loved reading about your trip to Montreal. As a native Quebecoise I can tell you this recipe is a take on the traditional. The reason Pouding au Chomeur is POOR man’s dessert is because the traditional recipe calls for brown sugar and boiling water with no heavy cream, no butter, just basically flour, sugar, water…it’s delicious no matter how you make it and now I may just have to go make a batch – it’s been a while….
June 5th, 2010 at 3:45 pm
Tim – what size ramekins did you use? (I apologize if I missed this somewhere in the post.) I’d like to try making more, smaller ones and am looking for a reference point. Thanks.
As ever, love your site. If you’re ever in Minneapolis, you are invited to my home for dinner.
June 5th, 2010 at 3:53 pm
So, here is a silly thing, I’m not sure how to measure ramekin capacity. I just filled the ramekin to the very, very top with water and it was 10oz. of water. But I am not sure if that means it is a 10 oz ramekin. Hmmm. But hopefully that is enough of a guideline.
And thanks for the invitation! If/when I make it up to Minneapolis, I will take you up on the offer.
Happy baking! Tim
June 7th, 2010 at 7:05 am
I love that you filled it with water. Funny and generous of you. Thanks!
March 11th, 2011 at 10:59 am
Tim, You are really on the money! Rose Levy Beranbaum, cake baker extraordinaire, says to measure baking pan capacity, fill it with water and that amount equals the capacity. Another great post and wonderful pics.
March 11th, 2011 at 8:48 pm
thanks, ae. Beranbaum really is the queen of cakes!
Deb W says:
June 8th, 2011 at 8:13 am
Hi Tim, So glad to hear that Martin Picard’s “Foot of the Pig” Restaurant is as much fun as his “Wild Chef” episodes. He seems to be as real personally as on-screen: massive good humour from a passionate spirit with great integrity.
N.B. Regarding the “poor man’s” aspect of Pouding au Chomeur… Dont forget that, during the Depression, eggs, cream and even Maple Syrop were cheap (free on the farm) because they were produced there. They may have had no money, but they ate well.
Nataly Héroux says:
September 29th, 2011 at 11:39 am
Just say to you that the name came from the original version. the original version is not with heavy cream and Maple syrup. This kind of version is the gourrmet one’s and appear after 1970’s.
I’m a real Montrealers, Québécois, French-Canadian, and the name of the Pouding au Chômeur came just after the crisis. The wife of the mayor of Montreal, Camilien Houde, arrive with the recipe that people can sweet their tooth, in a very cheap way, and forgot the crisis. Chômeur is not “poor man” is unemployed. The original cake need Brown sugar with water and just a tablespoon of butter for making sauce. And say “If you have or can add a spoon of vanilla … just indulge!”
And yes, the original version is bake in a 9 X 13 Pan!
If you want the original recipe, I have it, just write to me! :)
April 20th, 2012 at 7:42 pm
I live in Quebec and it warms my heart to see this recipe here. Classic cabane a sucre menu item :)
March 6th, 2013 at 9:29 pm
Could you please post or provide me your french recipe for pudding chomeur?