Imagine fudge. Rich, creamy, melt in your mouth fudge. But instead of the usual vanilla or chocolate, it’s flavored with pure maple syrup. It’s truly heaven in your mouth. For about two bites, and then your body goes into insulin overdrive and you need to sleep off your food coma. That’s sucre à la crème (roughly translated: creamed sugar). I think what I love best about this traditional French Canadian treat is that it rides the fine line between crumbly and creamy. The initial texture is briefly crumbly, but then it melts into creaminess in your mouth.
This stuff is so ingrained in our culture that Ricardo Larrivée, beloved Québecois chef, has NINE different recipes for it on his web site, including a dairy-free option. I have yet to meet a sucre à la crème I didn’t like (well, I probably wouldn’t like the diary free kind), so chose a recipe listed as The Ultimate and got to work.
Halfway into the process, I realized this recipe uses a candy thermometer and very specific temperatures. I thankfully have a candy thermometer (thanks, sister-in-law!) but I’ve never actually used it. I’m not that good with specifics.
You have to boil the mixture to exactly 115 degrees Celcius (240F), and then cool it to exactly 43 degrees Celsius (110F), and then beat it like mad with a mixer.
As you can see, I nailed the first step 🙂
The rest of it seemed a little sketchy. I cooled it in a cold water bath, but how do you know when it’s 43 degrees? The liquid is cooler on the edges and hotter in the middle, and 43 degrees is so dang specific. I took a rough average of the edge and middle temperatures and went with that.
This is what it looked like after beating it for 2 minutes and pouring it into the pan. Well, pouring it is a bit of a stretch. It was sticky and stretchy, and got harder to work with as it cooled. It seemed like it was going to end up more the consistency of saltwater taffy. That is so not what I was going for. That’s not crumbly OR creamy.
After cooling it overnight and slicing it up in the morning, though, I’m thrilled to say it worked! Crumbly and rich, with just the right amount of creaminess. The perfect accompaniment to a strong black coffee. Can you say breakfast? (just kidding.If you ate this for breakfast, you’d die.
I took it to my presentation to the Trabuco Hills High School French Honors Society yesterday. I was talking to them about Quebec, and what better way to reach their hearts than through their stomachs? The response was unanimous: “This is really good!” and “One piece is definitely enough.”
So if you’d like to add it to your repertoire of holiday baking, here’s the recipe.
The Ultimate Sucre à la Crème
- 1 cup heavy cream (35%)
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup maple syrup
- 2 tbsp corn syrup
- 1 oz white chocolate (optional)*
- 1/4 tsp vanilla
- Cover the bottom of an 8″ x 8″ baking pan with parchment paper — this makes it waaaaaay easier to get it out of the pan
- In a thick-bottomed pot, bring all the ingredients to a boil except the chocolate and vanilla. Stir it to dissolve the sugar. Attach a candy thermometer to the pot and position it in the center of the mixture, and simmer without stirring until the thermometer reads 115 degrees Celcius (240F). Take the pot off the heat and add the chocolate and vanilla, without stirring.
- Put the pot in a cold water bath. Let it cool, without stirring, until the thermometer reads 43 degrees Celsius (110F) — about 20 to 30 minutes.
- Remove the pot from the water bath. Using an electric mixer, whip until the mix loses its shine but is still soft, about 2 minutes.
- Pour immediately into the prepared baking pan and spread with a spatula. Cover with plastic wrap and cool 1 hour at room temperature or 30 minutes in the refrigerator. Remove from pan (just pull up on the parchment paper) and cut into 1-inch squares.
- Keep in a sealed container. You can make these squares in advance — they freeze well.
*Why the white chocolate? It’s the secret for a more creamy texture, like fudge. You don’t need much. It doesn’t change the taste of the sucre à la crème. I actually didn’t use it.