When you think “Canada”, you probably don’t think of desserts. It isn’t exactly synonymous with anything as popular as the USA and Apple Pie, Turkey and Baklava, or France and Crème Brûlée. You would; however, be wrong in thinking that there aren’t any Canadian desserts at all, and you’d be missing out if you weren’t keen to give them a try! Here are the best Canadian desserts that you absolutely need to try at least once (but probably more tbh):
1. Nanaimo bars
Nanaimo bars are named after the city of Nanaimo on Vancouver Island. The best part about Nanaimo bars is that they don’t require any baking, so they’re the perfect treat for when you have a sweet tooth but it’s 30°C (86°F) outside! They’re made of three delicious layers: a coconut and wafer crumb-base, yellow custard centre, and chocolatey ganache top layer. Pretty much what dreams are made of.
2. Blueberry Grunt
Blueberry Grunt is a Maritime dessert that was adapted from English steamed pudding. This perfect medley of blueberries, sugar, and lemon is best served with ice cream. It’s called a grunt because of the “grunting” noise that the blueberries make as they boil underneath the dumpling- I know, weird, but still delicious!
3. Saskatoon Berry Pie
Saskatoon berries grow from western Ontario to British Columbia and up to the Yukon. Interestingly enough, the city of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan is named after the berry, who’s name was derived from the Cree word for the berry: misâskwatômina. You know a berry is good when it has an ENTIRE CITY named after it. Although they resemble blueberries, they’re actually closer related to apples and pears, and taste like a mix between an apple and a blueberry with a slight nuttiness. Saskatoon berry pie has a gooey centre, with the perfect balance of sweet and sour. The crust is crispy and often layered with crunchy demerara sugar. It’s my favourite Canadian dessert and you’ll probably have to make the trip to the Great White North to try it for yourself!
4. Newfoundland Snowballs
Newfoundland Snowballs are from, you guessed it, Newfoundland! They’re made of oatmeal and coconut, and have a soft, chocolatey fudge centre. One is never enough. 😍
Founded in the province of Ontario, Beavertails has been making people salivate across Canada since 1978. Their signature dish is a piece of delicious dough, stretched into the shape of a beaver tail (hence the name…), deep fried, and covered in a variety of toppings toppings such as Nutella, brown sugar and cinnamon, and peanut butter. It’ll blow your mind.
6. Butter Tarts
Butter Tarts have a long history in Canada, the first published recipe came out in 1900; however, the origin is thought to go back much further to somewhere between 1663 and 1673, when 800 young women were sent to Québec from France to aid in the colonisation of what is now Canada. There are even self-guided Butter Tart Tours in Ontario, which covers over 50 bakeries! Needless to say, this tasty tart made of butter, sugar, syrup, and egg is a must-try.
Oh how we love our Tim Horton’s. Timmies introduced the Timbit in 1976 and it quickly became a staple for road trips and meetings alike. They come in a multitude of different flavours, I would suggest just getting an assorted box and trying all of them!
8. Thunder Bay Persian rolls
The Persian roll was created in Bennett’s Bakery in a town called Port Arthur. The area is now called Thunder Bay, but the Persian has carried on as the area’s classic treat; and who can blame them, what could be better than a sweet roll slathered in pink icing?
Originating from the Old English word bannuc, meaning “morsel”, traditional bannock was introduced to the Aboriginal people of Canada by early Scottish fur traders. The Indigenous Nations across North America also had their own form of bannock made of ground plants called camas, but switched to flour-based bannock because of how delicious it is. There are many different names for the bread across different Indigenous Nations but one thing remains constant; an unleavened bread that lasts for a long time without going bad. Have it with honey, jam, or good ol’ butter to enjoy a sweet and salty treat with deep roots in Canadian history.
10. Pouding Chomeur
This Québécois dessert translates to “pudding of the unemployed”or, better yet, “poor man’s pudding”. It’s said that this dessert was created with a few simple ingredients such as flour, butter, milk, and eggs during the great depression. The syrup was made from brown sugar before being replaced by maple syrup later on. This dish is an example of fusion between Aboriginal and European ingredients in Canada; you won’t regret trying this delicious cake, covered in hot syrup 😛.
11. Flapper Pie
Flapper Pie is a prairie classic. The graham cracker crust holds a creamy layer of custard and is then topped off with foamy meringue. Every slice is a little piece of heaven.
12. Coffee Crisp
Adapted from a wafer crisp chocolate bar from the UK, Canadian’s took the bar and spiced it up with alternating layers on coffee cream (because how else could you make chocolate and wafer even better?).
13. Tiger Tail ice cream
Tiger Tail (or Tiger Tiger) ice cream is a classic Canadian flavour from coast to coast. It’s aptly named for its appearance, the black liquorice and citrusy orange ice cream flavours balance each other out perfectly and resemble, well… a tiger. Good luck finding this tasty treat outside of Canada though!
14. Tarte au Sucre
Traditionally sweetened with maple syrup, tarte au sucre is just as sweet as it sounds. It is simply made of boiled maple sugar and cream, poured into a pie crust, and baked. Délicieux!
15. Tire sur la Neige
Tire sur la neige is an old-fashioned treat that is quintessentially Québécois. You start by boiling maple syrup, then pouring is along ice so that it cools into a maple syrup taffy. Once the syrup is adequately cooled, it is easily rolled around a Popsicle stick and enjoyed.
16. Jos Louis Cake
Created in Canada, the Jos Louis is two layers of red velvet cake, separated by a cream filling, and completely covered in chocolate. Enough Said.
18. Anything maple flavoured
You name a dessert and I guarantee there’s a maple variation that Canadians have come up with, I mean people even put maple syrup in their coffee up here. We’re talking any number of variations of maple pies, tarts, cookies, muffins, lollipops, ice cream, cakes, doughnuts, and even biscottis. The. List. Goes. On.
Hopefully now when you think “Canada” more than cold winters, bears, and hockey come to mind. Canadian desserts are deeply routed in Canada’s history, going all the way back to before the Indigenous people of Canada and Europeans even met. They’re tried and true recipes that have stood the test of time and are certifiably delicious!
Book a hostel in Canada and prepare to indulge!