My Grandmother’s Sucre à la Crème (Maple Fudge)

updated Feb 17, 2021
Sucre à la Crème (Maple Fudge)

A French Canadian confection made with maple syrup or brown sugar and served as a spread or fudge.

Makes25 (about 1-inch) pieces

Prep5 minutes

Cook18 minutes to 35 minutes

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nine squares of sucre a la creme sit next to each other
Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Stylist: Cyd McDowell

Over the past year, I’ve found myself slogging from one meal to the next, operating on autopilot to feed my homebound family. It had felt like forever since I’d cooked or baked for fun! Desperate to reignite my love of cooking, I decided to take on a nostalgic challenge and re-create my grandma’s sucre à la crème. Candy-making always forces me to be present in the kitchen, and if I got it right, I knew I’d be rewarded with the most incredible maple treat — a favorite of mine as a kid.

My grandma was a soft-spoken woman, her face framed with an angelic ring of white curls. But she was also a card shark and gave the fiercest of hugs. She raised my dad and his sister on a farm in northern Vermont where they grew potatoes and tapped maple trees for syrup. My grandma used the steady supply of homemade maple sugar to make sucre à la crème, a French Canadian confection that’s often served at Christmastime. She’d make us some as a treat every time she came to visit (no matter the time of year).

It’s been more than 10 years since my grandma has passed, but I still laugh every time I think of her scoffing at my sister when she asked about the ingredients in sucre à la crème. The answer should have been obvious to anyone who took as many years of French lessons as we did: sugar and cream! Off the farm, my grandma swapped in brown sugar, and while it still makes a rich and tasty caramel, I’m partial to the maple syrup version. After hunting down her recipe card, I got to work testing — and I’m happy to report I’ve perfected the sweet treat.

Credit: Patty Catalano

What Is Sucre à la Crème?

Sucre à la crème is the French Canadian kin to other brown sugar sweets like penuche (brown sugar fudge), and tablet, a Scottish dessert. Penuche is made with brown sugar, milk, and butter, and often has nuts stirred in. Tablet is made of sweetened condensed milk, butter, and sugar, and is thinner, grainier, and more crumbly than fudge. Sucre à la crème leans on heavy cream for fat and is traditionally made with maple syrup or sugar. Given the expense of pure maple sweeteners, light brown sugar can be substituted and will still provide the caramel-like flavor.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Stylist: Cyd McDowell

Two Ways to Prepare Sucre à la Crème

Many people prepare sucre à la crème as a creamy fudge, but my grandma always served it as a thick caramel spread. Both iterations start with the same set of ingredients: heavy cream, maple syrup (or light brown sugar), granulated sugar, and light corn syrup. The rich cream provides liquid and fat, giving the candy body and smoothness. Corn syrup inhibits the sugar crystallization that can cause grittiness — think of it as an insurance policy against sandy-textured fudge.

A candy thermometer is the best way to make sure the sugar syrup cooks to exactly the right temperature. No candy thermometer? No problem. My grandma tested it by dropping a small amount of syrup into a glass of cold water. When it cools into a soft, malleable ball, it’s ready. The soft ball stage ranges from 234°F to 240°F, but for that truly melt-in-your-mouth texture, pull the saucepan off the heat when it reaches 234°F.

For the caramel spread: Pour the syrup into a shallow heat-proof dish and let it cool completely.

To make fudge: Cool the syrup to 130°F without stirring to avoid activating the sugar seed crystals that can grow large and give the fudge a gritty texture. Once it cools, stir with a wooden spoon or silicone spatula until it lightens in color. Transfer to a parchment-lined pan.

Whether you make the spread or the fudge, only pour the free-flowing candy into the prepared pan. Do not scrape sides of the saucepan clean — think of those as the cook’s treat. The sugars that collect on the sides of the pan cook and crystalize at a different rate than the free-flowing sugar, and may seed the sucre à la crème with crunchy crystals.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Stylist: Cyd McDowell

Serving Sucre à la Crème

In my family, we eat sucre à la crème by the spoonful or spread atop buttery, salty Ritz crackers (so fancy!). For the fudge, shower the top with a finishing salt, like Maldon, if you have it. While my grandma never did this, the crunchy salt is a welcome contrast to the intense sweetness of the maple (or brown sugar) fudge.

Sucre à la Crème (Maple Fudge)

A French Canadian confection made with maple syrup or brown sugar and served as a spread or fudge.

Prep time 5 minutes

Cook time 18 minutes to 35 minutes

Makes25 (about 1-inch) pieces

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon

    unsalted butter

  • 2 cups

    heavy cream

  • 2 cups

    maple syrup or packed light brown sugar

  • 1/2 cup

    granulated sugar

  • 2 tablespoons

    light corn syrup

  • Flaky salt, such as Maldon (optional)

Instructions

  1. Coat an 8x8-inch baking pan with 1 tablespoon unsalted butter. If making fudge, line the buttered pan with a parchment paper sling that hangs over two sides of the pan by 2 inches.

  2. Place 2 cups heavy cream, 2 cups maple syrup or packed light brown sugar, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, and 2 tablespoons light corn syrup in a 4-quart heavy-bottomed saucepan and stir to combine. Attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pan.

  3. Cook without stirring over medium-high heat until the mixture reaches 234°F or the soft ball stage, 30 to 35 minutes for maple syrup and 18 to 20 minutes for brown sugar.

  4. Option 1: Caramel spread. Pour the syrup into the prepared pan and set aside to cool. Pour only the free-flowing syrup and do not scrape the bottom or sides of the pan clean. Sprinkle with flaky salt, if desired, and set aside at room temperature to cool.

  5. Option 2: Fudge. Immediately remove the pan from the heat and set aside to cool to 130°F (do not stir), 25 to 35 minutes. Once cooled, remove the thermometer and stir with a wooden spoon just until the syrup loses its shine, thickens, and lightens in color, about 10 minutes.

  6. Transfer the fudge mixture to the parchment-lined pan. Do not scrape the sides of the pan clean. Spread into an even layer, sprinkle with flaky salt, if desired, and cool to room temperature, 3 to 4 hours. Cut into 25 squares.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Store the caramel spread or fudge at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. Fudge can be frozen for up to 3 months. Use parchment or wax paper to separate the pieces during storage.

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