It’s maple season in Quebec and although that means an annual visit to a sugar shack for a joyful day of maple syrup overdose, it also means that this much-anticipated annual golden sap is on everyone’s mind, especially most chefs in the city. For a little – or large! – dose of this yearly treat, here are some of our favourite maple-laden concoctions…
Maple financier from Patrice Pâtissier: Patrice Demers’ new pastry shop has easily been the most anticipated opening of the past few months. Crowds have rushed the newly opened Little Burgundy space to get a taste of the many sugar-filled concoctions of Montreal’s most famous pastry chef. Financiers are seemingly simple, crunchy-on-the-outside and soft-on-the-inside nutty tasting, brown butter cakes that are unfortunately often badly made. Patrice’s version however is sinfully delicious, especially when paired with local maple syrup. Taste one on the spot and buy another to go, they make an excellent breakfast.
Maple marshmallows from Maison Christian Faure: Maison Christian Faure is a sophisticated, French pastry shop in the heart of Old Montreal. The man behind the boutique, café and pastry school has been awarded France’s highest cooking honour of Meilleur Ouvrier de France. In the elegant boutique you will find the most delicate tarts, mille-feuilles and gâteaux but it’s the homemade maple marshmallows that have won us over with their soft, chewy texture and crunchy sugar dusted crust. A word to the wise, they are highly addictive! You’ve been warned.
Maple entremet from Mlles Gâteaux: If you want to impress this maple season, this entremet from quaint Villeray pastry shop Mlles Gâteaux operated by lovely pastry chefs Isabelle Leroux and Fanny Thériault will do just that. The elegant white dome is filled with a thick maple mousse, caramelized pears and a rustic clafoutis cookie. It’s then covered with an intricately decorated almond paste mixed with maple sugar. The entremet comes in individual portions as well as large enough for 4 or 6. We advise you to get the larger size because everyone will want seconds. Fun fact: the maple syrup used comes from Isabelle’s uncle’s family-run sugar shack.
Flavoured maple sugar mixes from i-sens: Philippe Mollé is a great traveler and exotic food explorer. He has come up with six recipes for flavoured maple sugar mixes to be used in cooking and baking. Whether you pick the Montreal-Tokyo (maple sugar flavoured with yuzu and sake), the icing sugar Il neige dans ma tête (fine maple sugar, cranberries, yuzu and cinnamon) or any of the other four flavours, these are original and fun to use. It’s worth noting that these flavoured maple sugars were selected as one of the 10 most innovative food products of 2014 at this year’s SIAL (International Food & Beverage Tradeshow). On sale at FOU D’ICI and other fine grocery stores.
Maple Delights boutique: The Maple Delights award-winning boutiques that also double as maple museums have been operating since 1999 and are temples dedicated to everything maple. The maple treats are all made onsite and will have you wondering which one to pick. From the classic maple leaf shaped cookies, to maple seasonings and dressings to the Samara line of maple body care, everything in this boutique is delicious. In the summer, try the maple ice cream or a refreshing iced coffee sweetened with maple syrup. In the winter, go for a hot maple-flavoured milk with a slice of the scrumptious maple and apple pie. We are so enamoured with everything on display at this shop that it is impossible for us to pick just one product to recommend. Locations in Montreal, Quebec City, Montreal’s international airport and Vancouver.
Finally, a very special mention to Noble Handcrafted, small-batch artisanal products that focus on sustainable farming and great innovative recipes. The whole line of five “tonics” is excellent but Tonic #1, a Tuthilltown bourbon barrel matured maple syrup and Tonic #2, a Tahitian vanilla bean and Egyptian chamomile blossom matured maple syrup are exceptionally delicious. On sale at Chez Latina.
Photo credits: Maxime Juneau (Mlles Gâteaux) and Mickaël Bandassak (Maple financier)
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