One of the simpler traditional Canadian desserts, brown sugar pie is creamy, sweet, and very easy to make. A few simple ingredients bake and melt and bubble together to make a wonderful taste treat.

If you're looking for authentic Canadian recipes, you can't get more authentic, more French Canadian, or more memorable than tarte au sucre.

Ingredients and Substitutions

Sugar

We're using regular white sugar in this plus a bit of molasses. Did you know that brown sugar is just molasses plus white sugar (1-2 Tb:1 cup) and they store much better apart than when mixed? OR if you have it on hand, you can use brown sugar. (I suspect that you could also use maple sugar, but that's pricey and I haven't tried it)

Cream

This is not diet food. Use heavy cream – the kind that says 35% MF on the carton.

Egg

The recipe doesn't work without the egg

Butter

I have never tried making this with margarine and I probably won't unless we have a catastrophic butter shortage. The real butter + brown sugar mixture is what makes the wonderful taste in this pie. In my opinion, this is not one of the recipes where you can get away with a substitute.

Flour

You won't need much, but you want all-purpose flour.

Pie Shells

You can use full sized pie shells, if you like, and cut the pie into slices. Or you can use little tart shells.

These are all what my grandfather called ‘good, wholesome farm food' – molasses, cream, eggs, butter, and flour. These are ingredients that remember where they came from.

Is Sugar Pie the Same as a Custard Pie?

While both are delicious, no, they're not the same. If you make Banana Cream Pie, for example, you will make up a custard filling in a saucepan, then pour it into the crust with the bananas and finish it in the oven.

Is It the Same as Pecan Pie?

A pecan pie is a type of sugar pie. But of course, there are differences – like a whole lot less gooey filling and whole lot of pecans.

Pecan pie also uses corn syrup (at least in every recipe I can find), which would make my father-in-law turn in his grave.

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How I Discovered This Dessert

“Dominic made dessert, Marie. Tarte au sucre. Want a slice? “

Pie of sugar?

That's how that French phrase translated.

Whatever that was, I certainly wanted to try it.

So far my sojourn into French Canadian cuisine had been wonderful, with Pork Hog stew (I swear, no matter how often I tell my father-in-law that we say ‘pork hocks', he says ‘pork hog' for his French Canadian Pork Hock Ragout) and some delicious pork pate (so much pork).

Traditional French Canadian cooking is amazing. When I saw the teeeeny little sliver, I said, “Can't I get more than two bites? I mean … pie. And sugar. Plus my sweet tooth …”

Dominic and EJ both gave me a steady look for a few moments, trying to decide if they should tell me or let me find out on my own, and then together turned around and cut me a BIG slice of French Canadian sugar pie.

I learned my lesson.

When you make this delicious pie recipe (and you really should), serve it in teeeeny little slices because sugar pies are incredibly sweet. (You figured that from the name, right?)

Sugar pie tart closeup
Traditional French Canadian Sugar Pie (or Tarts) 66

French Canadian Desserts … oh, my

There's a myth that all the French Canadians are in Quebec.

The opposite to that myth, which I've also heard from people, is that everyone in Canada is French.

(If you've heard that there are some amazing Canadian desserts – that's not a myth at all.)

Yes, we have two official languages in Canada – French and English – but truthfully, most of the French spoken in Canada is in New Brunswick, Quebec, and northern Ontario.

EJ's family is from northern Ontario, a town called Sudbury.

When we were living there, I saw a car with Florida licence plates and joked that he was a very long way from home.

He said, “I'm from here and I usually come home in the summer. I was busy that week, though.”

That about sums up Sudbury. A pleasant winter day is -18C (around 0F), and summer is incredibly short. No wonder the French have such amazing desserts that are made with very simple pantry ingredients.

Many of these traditional French Canadian desserts have names that translate very rudely. (I mean, there's one named because it looks like a nun's bum!)

But this ….. oh, this is pure delicious.

Image of sugar pies made in tart form.

So What Is Sugar Pie?

Okay, it's NOT Sugar Cream Pie. Also delicious, but not the same thing.

This incredibly delicious dessert is basically a mixture of white sugar, molasses, cream, vanilla extract, and eggs. Thickened with just a tiny bit of flour, it's poured into a single pie crust and baked.

And by single crust, I mean no topping. This recipe actually uses two single crusts and makes two pies.

OR (as you can see in the photos), it can be use to make about 3 dozen mini tarts!

The ingredients are simplicity itself, and you probably have them all in your pantry. It's really the perfect pie to make when you want the appearance of decadence without all of the work (or cost!)

Making Sugar Pie

Time to learn how to make a sugar pie … and you don't need to speak French because I translated my mother-in-law's recipe for you.

You will need to mix sugar with molasses.

You COULD be all non-thrifty and buy store-bought brown sugar. I have always found that that is too expensive and it doesn't store well. Just mix your own. It'll taste exactly the same. No one believes me when I tell them, but it's true – 2 tablespoons molasses in a bowl, then 1 cup white sugar, and stir until combined.

To that, mix in milk or cream. I strongly recommend heavy cream unless you're making this in the middle of a blizzard and there's no cream to be found. In a recipe like this, counting calories is just silly.

Use either a wooden spoon or whisk to mix in the eggs, melted butter, and flour. (Could you use cornstarch? I don't know … and this isn't a recipe I plan to fuss around with). If there are teeeny lumps of flour, I promise no one will notice.

Hey, my Home Ec teacher taught me years ago that if it says ‘2 tablespoons melted butter', then you melt the butter and THEN measure it. If it says ‘2 tablespoons butter, melted', then you measure the butter before melting. In this case, you want to melt it first and then measure.

And then you … well, that's it for the filling. I've heard there's a version of this that uses maple syrup – something I'll need to look into.

Now dust uncooked pie crusts well on both sides with flour. You shouldn't need much – a teaspoon or so. This keeps the dough from totally disintegrating into the filling.

Well, it helps anyway.  The filling sort of soaks into the unbaked pie shell, but the flour slows that down a bit.

Sugar pie tarts
Traditional French Canadian Sugar Pie (or Tarts) 67

You can definitely make your own pie crust, but I have to admit I like the disposable ones, especially since I usually only make these for “bring a dessert” occasions. I'd hate to leave a pie plate at someone's house.

As soon as you're done, preheat oven to 400F. That's going to seem a bit high, but you'll have to trust me.

Divide the pie filling between the two pie crusts as evenly as you can. Unless you're entering this into a contest, no one will notice if the pies are a little uneven. They'll be too busy eating.

I strongly advise that you line a couple of baking sheets with foil or parchment and place your pies on those. A spill isn't likely (unless you misunderstand the written-in-French instructions and use just one deep dish pie pan), but if it happens and this goes all over your oven, you'll cry. The baking sheet will catch any “oops”.

The pies go in the oven for about 30 minutes. Don't quote me on that – watch your pie. There is absolutely no doubt when this is cooked – it will look firm and cooked. The top will be an incredibly delicious looking golden brown. You shouldn't have to reduce heat while it's cooking.

Just don't take a nap while baking the pie – watch it.

Let your pies cool completely.

The last time I made this French Canadian Sugar Pie recipe, we were heading to visit my family for New Year's Day dinner and I really wanted to impress everyone. This is definitely one of those Canadian desserts that impresses!

Sugarpietart
Traditional French Canadian Sugar Pie (or Tarts) 68

So I put the pies out in the back porch so they can cool to room temperature.

After all, the children don't often go out there during the winter – it's too cold, just a place to pass through on your way to the house.

So as we're getting ready, getting coats and boots on … and not once do I think that I just sent the little girls into the porch to get their boots.

Luckily I have an understanding family. No one minded the fingermarks in the pie – they were too busy eating it.

There you have it. Go impress people with your French Canadian desserts and create a new family favorite, but don't blame me for any weight gain.

Don't forget to cut it in small slices. (If cut in 16 slivers, each one is only 140 … or so … calories!)

Can Sugar Pie Be Frozen?

I will be honest – I've never tried. Never, not even once, have I had sugar pie last long enough to make it to the freezer. I've even made extra, thinking that one would maybe maybe last … nope.

However, all of the experts agree that cream pies and sugar pies can be frozen for up to three months. And I've successfully frozen lemon meringue pie, which I thought would be even more delicate.

Let the pie cool completely, then wrap it up airtight in plastic wrap, and freeze. When you want to eat, place the wrapped pie in the fridge and let it thaw completely.

A Cabin Full of Food: How to fill your pantry and use what you store
  • Beausoleil, Marie (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 294 Pages - 06/18/2018 (Publication Date) -...

Just Plain Cooking is an Amazon affiliate and may earn commission on product sold through links. Last update on 2022-01-21 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Print

Sugar Pie – French Canadian cooking

French Canadian sugar pie – delicious, decadent, but also incredibly easy to make. You might already have the ingredients in your pantry.

  • Author: Marie Beausoleil
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 12 servings 1x
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: French Canadian

Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 Tablespoons molasses
  • 1 cup cream
  • 2 egg
  • 2 tablespoons butter (melted)
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 pie shells (uncooked)

Instructions

  1. Mix sugar and molasses together. Mix in milk, then beat in eggs, melted butter and flour.
  2. Divide between two uncooked pie crusts that have been dusted with flour.
  3. Place the pies on cookie sheets in case they bubble over (although they shouldn't unless you put all the filling in one crust.) Bake at 400F for about half an hour.
  4. Let cool completely before eating.

Notes

Dusting the pie crusts, top and bottom, will keep them from totally disintegrating into the pie. It's completely optional, though.

Nutrition

  • Calories: 378
  • Sugar: 38
  • Sodium: 153
  • Saturated Fat: 8
  • Carbohydrates: 53
  • Protein: 3
  • Cholesterol: 59

Keywords: comfort food

Author

Author of A Cabin Full of Food and Going Herbal, mom to a large family, and a survivor of brain cancer, Marie believes that life should be simple, food should be homemade, and the best way to enjoy tomorrow is to prepare for it today.

1 Comment

  1. Happy Thanksgiving! This is my daughter in laws favorite kind of pie – she has a French Canadian background but she hasn’t had it in years, since she was diagnosed as gluten intolerant. I decided to surprise and treat her by making this for her, the only change I had to make was using gluten free flour and i made a gluten free pie crust for it. Out of the pumpkin pie and this one, only one person had a slice of pumpkin and there was only 1 slice of this left, which my grandson claimed dibs on before anyone else could speak lol. I only made one pie so I cut the recipe in half but I found it barely came halfway up the pie shell (and it wasn’t a deep dish shell either) so I made a quarter batch and added that to it and it was the perfect amount, There wasn’t a spilled drop in the oven. Thank you for helping me put a great big smile on her face!

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