We are very fortunate to live about an hour away from Quebec. This means we are very close to a world of incredible gastronomy from the global cuisine of Montreal to the traditional French bistros just over the border in Sutton. Quebec has its well-known specialties such as poutine, that naughty-sounding dish consisting of fries covered in gravy and topped with cheese curds. But there are a few dishes that are rarely seen outside of the province which deserve greater recognition and this is one.
Pudding Chômeur is a dessert in which simple biscuit dough is poached in maple syrup caramel. A version of this recipe worked its way down to Vermont (see recipe for Debbie’s Rag Muffins) but the original is 100% made from scratch and oh, so decadent. According to the Canadian Encyclopedia, the dish originated in the depression era when housewives relied on desserts made with simple ingredients. The literal translation means “pudding of the unemployed,” though there is absolutely nothing austere about it.
I have seen several versions of this recipe and they all call for a great deal of maple syrup. In the interest of economy, I reduced the amount and found it was just as rich. If you feel the need to be authentic go ahead and use more maple caramel but be careful not to fill the ramekins too high because the syrup will overflow when the biscuit cooks. I also couldn’t resist using the French spelling of ‘pudding’ in the recipe below; pronouncing it with the ‘ou’ forces a bit of French inflection and you will find the dessert will taste better for it.
¾ cup maple syrup
¾ cup heavy cream
2/3 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
Preheat oven to 400 °F. Butter 8 ramekins and set aside. To make the maple caramel, put maple syrup and cream in a pot and bring to a boil then remove from heat.
Beat butter and sugar until smooth and creamy. Add eggs one at a time. Blend in flour, baking powder and salt. Chill the dough in the fridge for 10 minutes.
Pour enough maple caramel into each ramekin to cover the bottom. Divide the biscuit dough into portions where it comes up two thirds of the height of the ramekin. (You may have some dough left over. Just make up more ramekins until you’ve used it all. No one has ever complained about having too much of this.) Pour the maple caramel over the dough until covered. Place the ramekins on a cookie sheet for easy handling and put in the oven. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until a fork shows the middle to be fully cooked. Serve warm with a dollop of whipped cream and extra maple caramel.