Rich, sticky and soaked with maple syrup, the Québécois dessert pouding chômeur, or poor man’s pudding, tastes far more decadent than its name suggests. And making this warm, richly sweet treat could not be simpler.
Assembled from common ingredients available even to struggling factory workers, the most basic recipes involve pressing biscuit dough into cups or a baking dish and topping it with cream and maple syrup. As it bakes, the sauce cooks the top of the dough and caramelizes into a rich glaze. Some versions suggest the reverse, pouring raw batter onto a pool of heated maple syrup.
Both techniques appealed, so we decided to see if we could combine them. But first we needed to understand what was happening in the oven. We knew that a sauce poured on top of a batter can slide down the sides of a greased ramekin, pooling on the bottom to form a two-layer, self-sauced cake. But this can produce an uneven consistency. We wanted a more uniform texture.
The fix was easy. Pouring a heated maple-cream sauce both on the bottom of the ramekin and over the top of the batter created the consistent texture we were after. Baked at 400°F, the sauce partially mixed with the batter instead of migrating, giving us a creamier, more uniform finished pudding.
With the texture settled, we turned our attention to amplifying the flavor of the showcase ingredient: the maple syrup. A half teaspoon of cinnamon in the batter complemented the richness of the syrup, and the gentle acidity of 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar offset the sweetness of the sauce. We also found that darker maple syrups added a deeper flavor than less intense varieties. Served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, the warm, rich pudding was lighter and brighter than the original—and just as easy.