Sunday, February 10, 2008

Sugar Pie (Canada)

Zola: What could be more appropriate for Valentine's Day than some sweet sweets? This was sent from my friend Nicole, who is, in my humble opinion, one of the best human beings walking the planet. Full stop. She also has an ability to eat an inordinate amount of sugar. I am tempted to say it's her only vice, but it hardly seems to qualify as a vice. She still has her "wisp of a girl" figure, all of her teeth, and isn't moody or weepy (my personal specialties after large sugar doses).

Nicole:In about 1994 we celebrated Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day with our friends France and Tom, and France's brother Claude, visiting his sister from Quebec to spend the summer tree-planting.

We went to the only Quebecois bar in Vancouver, had La Fin du Monde beer (very important part of your cooking process, you must find it) and ate sugar pie. Which was a complete revelation to me. Pie. Made of sugar. No ridiculously healthy fruits or nuts, just sugar, cream and butter. Who could come up with something like that? Needless to say it is delicious, served with unsweetened whipped cream. And beer. Or whiskey.

I asked France for a recipe and she got her mom to email me (attached). Enjoy my clumsy translation attempts - you can see that I didn't even attempt to translate the second recipe. I'm an embarrassment to my country.

The only "Canadian" dishes I could come up with were all from Quebec, which I'm sure says something important about our culture (the others were tortierre,
poutine and maple syrup (which is not technically a dish, but could I suppose be a drink if you were not very thirsty) (And beaver pie. Kidding)). Having said that, I'm sure that if I were from the Maritimes I would know all sorts of regional dishes. But I'm not. So you get sugar pie. And very short sentences. Enjoy.
Zola: This a picture of my first attempt at sugar pie. My French must be even worse than I thought (though, that hardly seems possible?) because when I put it in the oven I remember thinking, "What the? It's mostly butter and cream". Not ingredients that tend to get firm when you stick them in an oven. It turns out, they really don't get firm in the oven. I felt like an embarrassment to my (albeit former) profession as a pastry chef.

So I had to try it again. This time I was hanging out with my friend Kathleen. Oddly enough, Kathleen reminds me a lot of Nicole. They speak with exactly the same cadence - it's some freaky children-of-the-Irish thing. Anyway, Kathleen & I had a pie date. She's a keen pie baker and with her as my back-up, I was determined not to let this pie take me down.

So I tried a new recipe:
1 c. maple sugar
1 c. Light brown sugar
1/4 c. heavy cream
1 egg
1 Tablespoon flour
2 Tbsp melted butter

Pour that into a 9" unbaked pie shell and bake at 400F for 25 min.

Now I didn't know what maple sugar was so I used "sugar in the raw". Um. Don't do that. It didn't dissolve properly and was pretty crunchy. I feel like I break out in a cold sweat every time I think about it.

Otherwise, this attempt was better although still mind-numbingly sweet. If I ever gathered the courage to attempt sugar pie again I would do it in little tart shells so that my sugar to pie dough ratio was a little was a little more balanced.
Happy Valentine's Day. Go brush your teeth.


Family Party Planning said...

Sugar, sugar, sugar. Yum, yum, yum! And I definitely have another Canadian recipe for you, and this one is from the west coast. They are called Nanaimo Bars and they also have an impressive amount of sugar in them!

Zola said...

What's with you crazy sugar eating Canadians?
Guy says he's had a Nanaimo Bar before and claims they are "wicked". Bring it!

scolly said...

Tarte au sucre! When I was a kid (living in Maine), my grandparents once told my parents that they were taking my brother and I out for lunch. Naturally, they happily agreed to having a couple hours (at most) alone.

This happened on occasion, but typically we were treated to a one of those all-you-can eat iceburg lettuce salad and soft serve ice cream sundae for desert places in the neighboring town.

Instead, they randomly drove us 5+ hours across the border to Quebec in search of sugar pie. It was after midnight when we arrived back home, and my parents had called the state police to look for us!

We never found any sugar pie, but I've always dreamed of eating pie made out of sugar.

Zola said...

That is an AWESOME sugar pie story, ScottD. I'm sorry that you didn't get any sugar pie on that trip (although, I must confess that is mostly because I like the image of you and your grandparents high on sugar pie fleeing state police). Let me know if you need a good pie crust recipe to make your dream a reality!

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