Better buckle up ‘cause we’re going on a canadian desserts road trip to celebrate Fête du Canada, aka Canada Day. We’ll revisit some old favourites like Nanaimo bars and Saskatoon berry pies, even pouding chômeur and blueberry grunt! But you know it wouldn’t be a road trip without some detours via chicken bones, nougabricot, moosehunters, and jam jams… Our sugary pilgrimage commences on the Pacific Coast before weaving its way through the mountains and the prairies, moseying along the St. Lawrence River, and finally, placing us firmly in the Maritimes.
As promised, we begin with British Columbia’s Nanaimo Bar. This no-bake treat consists of chocolate ganache and custard, which sits atop a choc-coconut biscuit base. Famed as Canada’s best-known dessert, this is premium fuel for the tank before we head to the Prairies.
The Canadian Prairies include Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba, which are partially covered by grasslands, plains, and lowlands. It’s here that we can stock up on the popular flapper pie. This is a delectable combination of graham cracker with an ooey-gooey custard topping that then wears a crown of meringue. If there’s space, we ought to pack a Saskatoon berry pie while in the neighbourhood. It’s a signature dessert here too, and the city actually gets its name from the little blue berries!
Matrimonial cake is actually a square or crumble made from oats and dates. It originates here, along with Jambusters, which are Manitoba’s answer to jelly doughnuts. Meanwhile, Morden’s Mints are melty Russian mints essential to any Winnipeg Christmas.
But what about Ontario? We want some beaver tails! The delicious doughnuts are flattened out, like the real animal’s tail, before we coat them in cinnamon-sugar, maple butter, and Nutella. Sometimes shared, sometimes not, but definitely best eaten hot! Another doughnut-esque dessert known in these parts is Persian Roll. A cross between a cinnamon roll and a doughnut, you can coat them in a variety of icings. But if doughnuts aren’t really your thing, this is the place to stock up on butter tarts. A general Canadian dessert, but mostly found here in Ontario and over in Nova Scotia.
Before we get to Nova Scotia, we have the pleasure of passing through a place very dear to our hearts. Yes, we’re talking about French-Canadian Quebec. Anticipating this checkpoint, we’ve specifically allocated car space to the pouding chômeur (poor man’s pudding) and tarte au sucre (sugar pie). The first, pouding chômeur, was a product of the Depression though it is anything but poor… Cake drenched in rich Quebec maple syrup? We’ll take ten, thanks. The same applies to the tartes au sucre; we can’t ignore the whisper of more maple syrup and cream baked into a buttery crust. Bonus Quebec sweets include maple taffy and nougabricot, a type of confiture created from apricots, pistachios, almonds, and citrus, made famous by jam wizard Christine Ferber.
Newfoundland and Labrador aren’t technically part of the Maritime Provinces. However, we are going to group all of the Eastern Provinces together to give you an idea of the eclectic palate we’re dealing with here. This is home to chicken bones, which are bright pink, choc-filled cinnamon hard candies. Another treat is the figgy duff, a boiled pudding made from flour, raisins, molasses, and more, often served with fresh cream or fruit custard.
The Maritimes are also home to the blueberry grunt, which is a type of cobbler, and moon mist ice cream, which is a banana, grape, and bubblegum swirl, of course! Other goodies include moosehunters, a great name for cookies made with ginger, molasses, and cocoa powder. You can also find jam jams – more molasses cookies but this time sandwiching plum or raspberry jam. Finally, there’s the incredibly intriguing bakeapple pie, which you can make from the bright orange cloudberry, a distant relative to the blackberry.
But before we hang up the car keys, we’ll remind you of Timbits and the orange-licorice flavoured tiger tail ice cream. You can find these almost anywhere in Canada, not being native to one province in particular… It does pay to keep your eyes peeled on the next road trip for some indigenous desserts. These include the sweet bannock, a dense bread that’s fried and resembles a beaver tail. There’s also xoosum, a product of whipping one of the indigenous fruits, buffalo berries, until they foam into a version of ice cream.
Thanks for tagging along on our Canada Day road trip of canadian desserts. Happy Canada Day!