This is a classic Quebecois dessert that owes its creation to the Great Depression. The only good thing to come out of the Great Depression? Probably. Chomeur means ‘unemployed’ or “poor man’ in French. And it was the clever female factory workers who developed this pudding, finding a way to comfort their unemployed hubbies through those troubled days. It’s such an easy recipe based on accessible and inexpensive ingredients. Quebec is the motherland of maple syrup for Canada, so it was an easy fit to sweeten this dessert. Back in the day, chestnut flour was also loathed as a peasant food, only used when more desirable wheat flour couldn’t be found.
These days maple syrup and chestnut flour carry premium price tags. Chestnut flour isn’t easy to find. But when you do, grab a bag, and cherish it, in the freezer!. Yes, like many flours, chestnut flour will last much longer if stored in an airtight container in your freezer. I have several kinds of maple syrup in the house at all times. Some for baking, some for pancakes, and a precious bottle for drizzling on special desserts and drinks. I will totally understand if you only keep one in the cupboard. But the darker, richer the syrup, the better the end result for this adorable little dessert.
When I think chomeur, I always picture a 9×13 baking pan being the home to the cakey batter doused with the sweet syrup. That’s how I’ve always baked it. So when I came across this recipe on The Bojon Gourmet, I was totally mesmerized. Sweet little canning jars, filled not with the typical white flour, but chestnut, rice and oat flours; and the syrup flavoured with coffee as well. I had to make her version. I will say, I’ve made it several times now, and have decided that the amount of syrup she makes for the amount of batter she prepares is not enough. I like the finished cake pudding to really be swimming in the syrup. So I am giving you my adjusted amounts.
I was thrilled to find a fresh use for my stash of chestnut flour. Alanna also uses oat flour and sweet rice flour, to keep her recipe gluten-free. Since I’ve started using emmer and einkorn flours, the ancient predecessors of our modern day wheat, but which are naturally very low in gluten, I’m happy to use either of these in the recipe. If you can’t find these flours, whole wheat will be just fine. I’ll spell it out in the recipe below.
The finished little dessert is rich, only a tad cloyingly sweet, and earthy thanks to the chestnut flour. Keeping them sized for single servings also makes it easier not to have two!! But you could totally bake these up in a 9×13″ (or there abouts) baking pan, pouring the sauce evenly over all the batter. Greetings from Canada and our snowy, European province of Quebec!
MAPLE CHESTNUT PUDDING CHOMEUR
- 8 tbsp (110 g) unsalted butter
- 1 vanilla bean , split lengthwise and scraped. (If not available, use 1 tsp vanilla powder or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
- 1 cup (250 ml) maple syrup (the darker the better)
- 1/2 cup (125 ml) brewed coffee
- 1/2 cup (50 g) chestnut flour
- 1/2 cup (55 g) einkorn, emmer or whole wheat flour
- 2 tsp (9 g) baking powder
- 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
- 2 large eggs
- 1/3 cup (80 ml) buttermilk
- 1/3 cup (80 ml) maple syrup, the darker the better
- 2 tbsp (30 ml) mild vegetable oil, such as sunflower oil
- powdered sugar for sprinkling (optional)
- Whipping cream sweetened with maple syrup and vanilla (optional)
Position a rack in the centre of the oven and preheat to 350F (175C)
Place 8 (4-6 oz) oven-proof ramekins or canning jars on a baking sheet and spray them lightly with cooking oil (or brush with a bit of melted butter)
Place the butter and vanilla pod and scrapings in a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan and cook over med-low heat, swirling around occasionally. After about 3-5 minutes the butter will foam up, turn golden and release little brown flecks. It will smell nutty. At this point remove from the heat and carefully add in the maple syrup and coffee. Transfer to a small pitcher and set aside.
To make the batter, in a medium bowl, sift together the chestnut and wheat flour, along with the baking powder and salt. In a measuring cup, mix the buttermilk, syrup, egg and oil. Add this mixture to the bowl with the dry ingredients. Whisk until well combined.
Scoop the batter evenly amongst the eight containers. Take the sauce and stir well, (the butter will keep wanting to separate, so stir after each pour) Pour, distributing evenly, over the eight batters. Some will pour right through the batter to the bottom. This is fine.
Bake the puddings until puffed and golden, with the bubbling sauce beneath the cakey bits, about 18-22 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool at least 15 minutes. Sprinkle with the powdered sugar. Serve the puddings warm, with some of the whipped cream in a bowl alongside for the taking!
These are best eaten right away, but will keep well in the refrigerator, as long as well sealed, for up to 3 days. Reheat in a 350F oven for best results.
Alanna suggests using a combo of 1/2 cup chestnut flour, and 1/4 cup each of oat and sweet rice flour. Or one cup total. This keeps it totally gluten-free
I replace the two 1/4 cups with 1/2 cup of einkorn flour. If you can't find emmer or einkorn flours, use whole wheat flour. You could also replace the chestnut flour (if you can't find it) with 1/2 cup AP flour.
I doubled the amount of sauce, compared with Alanna's recipe. I found that when I stuck to the original amounts, there just wasn't enough sauce to be captured with every spoonful. So sue me!
Adapted from The Bojon Gourmet