If you are unfamiliar with this dish, let me introduce you by way of an aimless personal anecdote. If you are familiar with the dish, you can skip the next paragraph.
My father’s family lives near Ottawa, my mother’s near Sudbury. When I was little my family would sometimes drive between these two sets of relatives, following the Ottawa River valley, where there are lots of French communities, even on the Ontarian side of the border. Along the way we would always stop at a diner called Valois in the French town of Mattawa. For dessert they offered “sugar pie,” a tidy translation of tarte au sucre. While some versions of sugar pie are made with corn syrup or molasses (imagine a pecan pie without the pecans), I think the word “sugar” actually implies maple syrup, just as easterners might call a grove of maple trees a sugar bush, and the building where syrup is made a cabane à sucre, or sugar shack. Basically the dish is maple syrup thickened with flour and eggs, set in a pie shell.
This particular incarnation was a light, slightly sticky maple pudding in a short crust. In fact, the custard was so loose that if a slice was left to stand, the filling slowly ran onto the plate.
For the shell, bake off your favourite rich, short dough in a 10″ French tart pan. Here is my recipe. Be sure to dock and weight the dough while baking. Cool the shell thoroughly.
- 500 mL maple syrup
- 100 mL all-purpose flour
- 250 mL heavy cream
- 4 eggs, lightly beaten
- 50 mL butter
- Whisk the flour into the cream, then stir this mixture into the maple syrup. Whisk in the egg yolks.
- Cook mixture over low heat until thick. Stir in the butter.
- Pour into expectant pie shell. Chill thoroughly.
- Eat with whipped cream.