This is a love story not about a pie but about the woman who has baked it for her family for more than 60 years. Innovation in the kitchen is not as impressive as consistency. After all, anyone can come up with an original idea or two over a lifetime. But making something perfectly, the same way, time after time, well that is an achievement. Everytime I get to eat this pie, I consider myself the luckiest person in the world.
And I am not alone. A bite of this classic French Canadian dessert elicits moans of pleasure from one and all alike. It is no secret that love is baked in every single bite. My mom is the person I admire most in the world. One of 15 children born into poverty, she overcame hardship with grace, determination, ingenuity and grit. Married at 16, she is pretty much self-taught. Unable to receive a formal education, she raised all university-educated children. She dreamed big for her children. But the greatest thing I admire about my mom is her positive outlook on life. She has never wasted a single day of her life on feeling blue or sorry for herself. She gets up every day full of purpose and joy. When she has a chance to cook for family or friends, her most requested recipe is for tarte au sucre as was the case on a recent visit home. The pie filling is simple: brown sugar, butter, vanilla and evaporated milk baked into a flaky crust. Tradition and love in every bite, indeed.
Pierrette's Tarte au Sucre
- 1 3/4 cup light brown sugar, densely packed
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 2 tablespoons butter, softened
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 1/4 cup evaporated milk
- 1 9-inch unbaked pie crust
- Preheat oven to 350 F.
- Mix the flour with the brown sugar together with your hands.
- Cut in butter until mixture ressembles coarse oatmeal.
- Add milk and mix until milk has been incorporated into the sugar.
- Pour into your unbaked pie shell and bake in a center rack for 45 to 50 minutes, checking for doneness starting at 40 minutes. The pie should be golden with the center still slightly jiggly.