I’m intrigued by food I’m unfamiliar with. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, I always want to know more. The curiosity bug bit me after I saw an Instagram post by David DiBari of The Cookery depicting something called “pudding chômeur,” a cake-like, maple syrupy dessert that came out of an aluminum can.
I knew two things: I wanted to find out a little more about this “pudding,” and I needed to try it.
So, what is it, anyway?
During the Great Depression, pudding chômeur (or pouding chômeur) was supposedly created in Quebec by female factory workers. Called “poor man’s pudding” or “pudding of the unemployed,” it was made with inexpensive ingredients or pantry items that people already had on hand. Think along the lines of a simple cake batter using flour, butter, sugar, eggs, baking powder, salt, and vanilla. Before the mixture is poured into an oven-safe vessel, maple syrup — usually a homemade caramel back then — goes in first, and through the science of baking, the batter will rise above it, causing the syrup to settle on the bottom, making for a sticky-sweet “sauce” when you turn the cake over and pop it out.
Today, pudding chômeur is quite popular, and there’s a good chance you’ve come across it if you’ve visited Montréal. Being that Chef DiBari is a fan of the food scene in the City of Mary, he’s brought the decades old dessert to Dobbs Ferry as an homage. He mentioned his version sticks true to what you’d find across the border, except for a few minor (secret) adjustments, and he uses Crown Maple Syrup from Dutchess County for a little local flair.
After your meat-and-pasta indulgence at The Cookery, give it a shot. The pudding chômeur is served warm, and you can expect an airy, almost cheesecake-like texture. The cake itself isn’t exceedingly sweet, that’s the syrup’s job. It tastes like something I’d like to eat two of after dinner, something I’d want for breakfast with coffee, or as DiBari puts it, “It tastes like a big f***ing pancake.”
39 Chestnut St, Dobbs Ferry