Maple Dumplings (Grandpères)Photo Credit : Amy Traverso
In the first days of March, when the advent of spring is still more conceptual than tangible, a bit of comfort goes a long way. Maple season, with its promise of warmer days and sweet mornings, is a good place to start. Even the most persistent winter seems to recede with the first sighting of a sugar shack in full swing, its door thrown open and steam billowing from the chimney.
In this new monthly column, I’ll be reworking vintage recipes for modern kitchens, with busy schedules and changing tastes in mind. It’s tradition with a twist—and where better to begin than with a maple recipe? Paging through some cookbooks, I came across a delightfully simple dish from the sugar shacks and logging camps of Quebec and Acadia: grandpères, or dumplings simmered in maple syrup. A versatile sweet you could serve for brunch or dessert, this humble dish is a wonder of culinary chemistry: The maple syrup and water provide the cooking medium for the dumplings, which in turn give off enough starch to thicken the liquid into a rich sauce.
Most of the dumpling recipes that I found were made with white flour and enriched with either butter or pork drippings. I opted for butter, but to boost nutrition and flavor, added whole wheat flour. And because maple syrup seems to get more expensive every year, I upped the ratio of water to syrup (it’s typically 1:1), then threw in a bit of rum and salt, producing a delicious salted maple caramel. Topped with some toasted nuts and whipped cream, this is a quick, addictive, and very comforting way to start (or end) your day.