This year, for Quebec National Day, I wanted to try making an old-school Quebec dessert that I had never tried but always intrigued me. In French, it is called “Grands-pères dans le sirop” which translates to “Grandpas in syrup”. Basically, it is dough poached in maple syrup. Now, I bet you are wondering about the origin of the weird name…and honestly I was too. All I could find online is either that 1) the dish was soft enough for grandpas to eat or 2) grandpas were often given the easy task to tend on the poaching dumplings. I know, this isn’t a very satisfying explanation for such a quirky name…thankfully, the dish itself turned out to be so good, you quickly forget the name and focus on the delicious taste.
After browsing a few recipes online, I realized it was silly to look at a modern resource for a traditional recipe, especially when I have a few great old-school cookbooks on my bookshelf. I pulled out a cookbook brought to me by my mom, once belonging to my grandma. The book is bilingual (French-English), published in 1940 and published by A.Bélanger Limitée, as a way to sell their cooking ranges. Traditional Canadian Recipes / Cuisine Typiquement Canadienne was written by Mrs. Rose Lacroix, with illustrations by Mr. Jean Simard. I used this cookbook a few years ago to make meat-ball stew that turned out wonderfully well so I felt good using this source again.
Now for the goodies. This recipe was so very simple and the result was super delicious. While the recipe is obviously divine with maple syrup, if you don’t have easy access to large quantities of it, there is an easy substitute suggested as well, which is nice. Because, let’s be honest, good maple syrup is expensive!
Grands-Pères dans le sirop - Maple Dumplings
- 1 cup of sifted flour
- 2 teaspoons of baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon of salt
- 2 tablespoons of shortening
- 1/2 cup of milk
- 2 cups of maple syrup
- Sift the flour, then sift again with the baking powder and the salt.
- Add the shortening, cut into small pieces and mix like you would to make pie crust. (I used a fork)
- Pour the milk in all at once and mix quickly. You should get a firm, malleable dough. (I then divided my dough, with the full recipe, you should get 12 balls of dough)
- Heat the maple syrup in a saucepan, until it boils.
- Drop in the dough balls. Cover the saucepan and let the dough poach without boiling for 12 to 15 minutes. Avoid lifting the lid as much as possible.
Recommendations and notes:
- I used coconut oil instead of shortening. It worked fine. I think butter would work well too.
- Instead of using two cups of maple syrup, I used 1 cup of maple syrup and 1 cup of water and it tasted just as good.
- I ended up making a half-recipe since I was the only one eating it but you could easily make more or less. It’s such a simple recipe, I feel like it would be hard to really mess it up.
- If you make a large quantity, consider poaching the dumplings in batches. They will grow as they cook so you don’t want them to run out of space.
- Don’t throw away the poaching liquid! While you will use most of it to serve the dumplings, I highly recommend keeping any extra you might have. The texture is nice and thick, like a delicious maple sauce. I plan on using my leftovers on vanilla ice cream.
- This dish is best served warm. If you put leftovers in the fridge and quickly hear them in the microwave before eating them. They will still be still delicious.
Really, I can’t recommend this recipe enough. It’s so easy to do, I’m pretty sure it’s foolproof and the result is so decadent. I can see why this used to be a staple at my grandma’s Sunday family dinners!