Any weekend my husband and I are free, I always suggest we head over to Montreal because it’s only a two and a half hour drive from us. This is funny because I went to McGill University for my Master’s and while I was studying there I wasn’t much of a fan of the city. I guess you can say it was another point in my life-life as a student with deadlines and endlessly writing papers and stressing out about my thesis. My friends and I would stick together in a corner of the Institute of Islamic Studies library typing frantically away about political and religious movements in British India.
We rarely ate out at “nice” places. We stuck to student joints and areas in and around our student ghetto. I wish we had done some further exploring. Montreal is a gem of a city and the food is no less than spectacular. I’m glad we were smart enough to try many of Montreal’s ethnic selections-Pakistani, Lebanese, Syrian, Turkish, Greek, Persian, Thai.
Some of the best Pakistani food is found in Montreal’s Parc Extension. The places are not exactly what we can call glamorous, but the food is superb. Whenever my parents would visit, my dad was eager to only eat Pakistani food–Lahori charga (steamed then fried chicken with spices), spicy fried fish, sarson ka saag (mustard greens/broccoli rabe), nihari (spicy slow-cooked beef stew), haleem (beef and lentil stew)…My mom and I would roll our eyes, as delicious as the Pakistani food was, we wanted “bistro” food. Usually, we would just appease my dad because we are more easygoing when it comes to food. *hehe*
Now, when my husband and I make our weekend trips, we don’t know where to start. It’s pure overload. L’express or Lemeac…Alep or Daou, Le Local or Toque´, Au Cinquième Péché…Croissants, Poutine, Duck Confit, Montreal Smoked Meat, St. Viateur Bagels, Marche´ Jean Talon, Atwater market, chocolate, baguettes, and brioche. See, it’s overload. I could go on and on about Montreal’s food scene. I don’t think I need to mention that Montreal is my favorite place in Canada.
Despite everything we’ve tried, we never made it to Au Pied de Cochon. After all, it is a Montreal landmark. Anthony Bourdain loves it and even featured it on “No Reservations.” I saw the episode where he took part in the APdC gluttony–tray after tray of foie gras and pork this and that. We don’t eat pork, so that is why we never tried it out. The menu is very pork heavy. However, there are options for people who don’t eat pork. We figured we had to try it once.
We indulged in foie gras and black truffle terrine, magret of duck, and instead of pork gluttony, we engaged in duck gluttony. Everything was good, but what was absolutely divine was the pouding chômeur. After a $50 slice of foie gras and black truffle terrine, we were wowed by the unassuming maple syrup, flour, and butter dessert. You know something is good when my husband even utters that he might enjoy it as much as my vanilla bean cheesecake. That is his dessert and to him nothing ever compares to it. He absolutely loved the pouding chômeur, as did I.
If you are not a fan of maple syrup, don’t fret. The maple syrup transforms into a nutty and delicious caramel, which soaks the cake. It’s spongey, warm, and gooey, the perfect winter dessert. I never thought I would be saying this, but I am not heralding the coming of spring quite as much as I was before because I want to savour this dessert in the cold weather. I wish I discovered it before. Now, there are all the more reasons for us to visit Montreal.
makes 4-4 1/2″ ramekins (each ramekin will serve two, if you don’t mind sharing) or an 8″ by 8″ glass dish
recipe very slightly adapted from Gourmet Magazine
1 1/2 cup pure maple syrup, I use this one
1 1/4 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons cider vinegar
pinch of kosher salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup cane sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
crème fraîche, for serving
confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and make sure the rack is at the placed at the upper third of the oven.
In a small saucepan on medium heat, bring the maple syrup, heavy cream, and the pinch of salt to the boil, stirring the mixture until it boils. Once it begins to boil turn the heat off and set it aside.
Using an electric mixer, beat together the sugar and butter until creamy. Gently beat in the egg and add in the vanilla extract.
In another bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Fold the flour into the egg/butter mixture until just combined. The dough will be of the consistency of crumbly biscuit dough.
If you are using ramekins, pour in about 1 inch of the maple syrup mixture into each ramekin and then press in 1/4 of the dough and top with the remaining maple syrup mixture. If you are using 1 baking dish then pour 1/3 of the maple syrup mixture into the bottom of the dish and divide the dough into 6 balls and place them into the dish and top with the rest of the maple syrup mixture.
It will be all soupy and won’t look right. Don’t worry, it will come together in the oven. Place in the oven and bake the ramekins for 20-22 minutes, or until just set. If you are using the 8″ by 8″ dish bake for 25-30 minutes. Serve warm with a dusting of confectioners’ sugar and a dollop of crème fraîche.
Other blogs/sites featuring Pouding Chômeur: