It’s the last long weekend of the summer and back to controlled sugar consumption. And the Vegetarian Food Festival is on next weekend so I have to save up my sugar points to indulge in the creative temptations that will be on offer. In the meantime, here is my recipe for a simply made and simply delicious chocolate treat that can also be enjoyed midweek.
All you need is 1 cup of coconut cream, 5 medjool dates (softened after soaking in water), 2 tablespoons cocoa powder, 1 tablespoon maple syrup, a pinch of salt and splash of vanilla. Blend together and let sit in fridge to set.
Sponge toffee/hokey pokey
In Canada I know it as sponge toffee but it is also called honeycomb. In New Zealand it’s called hokey pokey and perhaps even gets the accolade of New Zealand’s national flavour. It is also the filling contained within a Crunchie bar (or violet crumble bar in Australia). In saucepan, heat 4 tablespoons fairly traded cane sugar and 2 tablespoons maple syrup. Let it boil and bubble away for a few minutes. Add 1 teaspoon of baking soda and stir quickly until it foams. Pour immediately into lined pan. Leave to cool. It should harden right away. And when you put the two together, it makes magic! Velvety mousse with understated sweetness punctuated with crunchy sweet bits of maple sponge toffee honeycomb hokey pokey. You put your dessert spoon in, take your dessert spoon out, put your dessert spoon in, then you turn it all about. You do the hokey pokey and you turn yourself around. And this is what it’s all about!
Sugar Sunday – because life is sweeter with a little bit of sugar in it. Indulge sensibly.
How fitting that the inaugural post for the July 2017 series, Canada 150, falls on Sugar Saturday. Just as well I made mini Nanaimo bar doughnuts and butter tarts for the occasion. (Oh and for something healthy, I cut watermelon in the shape of maple leaves.)
So what is Canadian cuisine anyway? Clay figurines?
Canadian cuisine, like Canadian identity, is hard to pinpoint to an iconic word or phrase. Like the land and its people, Canadian cuisine is diverse, regional and seasonal. It makes use of local and imported ingredients and has been influenced by the Indigenous population and the many immigrants from various places around the world who have been coming here from the 1600s onwards. A Jamaican patty (usually made with toned down spices) is as much a part of the Canadian culinary experience as maple syrup on pancakes with blueberries. And even when we can agree on what is classically Canadian, ie the butter tart, we can’t agree on what it should be like. Raisins, pecans or plain? Corn syrup or maple syrup? Lard in the dough or vegetable fat? Runny filling or firm? There’s even debate as to who has the real butter tart trail: Wellington north or Kawartha Lakes? And agreement on the origins isn’t unanimous either. Was it created by the filles du roy (daughters of the King) who were sent to help populate the new France colony of Québec, developed from a pecan pie recipe brought here from the Americans or concocted by early pioneer cooks? It’s likely the recipe for the butter tart most well-known today has been around since the 1900s.
The butter tart is an individual tart made with flaky pastry and filled with a cooked mixture of egg, butter, vanilla, salt, vinegar and two types of sugar, wet and dry. Much like many Canadians, it is said to be a fusion of diverse origins, makes use of a local ingredient (maple syrup) and is oft associated with Ontario. From butter tart festivals to butter tart innovations there is no shortage of butter tarts in the Canadian narrative.
For the quintessential go-to butter tart recipe, I’m going with my girl Anna. Feel free to omit the raisins and pecans. I do. And for some creative renditions of the butter tart, see 20 Great Canadian Butter Tart Recipes.
Apparently the Elmira Maple Syrup Festival is “recognized by the Guinness Book of Records” as “the World’s Largest Single Day Maple Syrup Festival” according to their website.
Release the sap!
It is around this time every year that the maple trees in eastern Canada are tapped for their watery liquid which then gets turned into maple syrup in a sugar shack or cabane au sucre. For more on this process, check out the following link:
While I didn’t make it to Elmira today, I’ve decided to have my own festival of maple syrup this week. Here are just some of the desserts that benefit from the addition of maple syrup:
scones, cookies, crepe cake, parfait, granola, chocolate truffles, butter tarts, pumpkin pie, hot chocolate, cheesecake, ice cream, fudge, candied walnuts, icing, caramel
Though popularly poured on pancakes (and snow) maple syrup is not just for breakfast anymore.
Because life is a little sweeter with some maple syrup in it. Indulge sensibly.
And there are health benefits to maple syrup?!