With 85% of the world’s maple syrup being produced in Canada, it’s no surprise that a love of all things sweet runs deep across the country, and, no matter the occasion, Canadians love a good celebration. What do you get when you combine those two loves? National Dessert Day! Falling on October 14th this year, this day is dedicated to some of the most loved desserts from coast to coast. From the ubiquitously popular Nanaimo Bars from British Columbia to the lesser known (though no less delicious) Blueberry Grunt from the fields of Nova Scotia, indulge your sweet tooth and enjoy a serving of your favourite dessert (or two – who’s counting?).

Go Nuts for Nanaimo Bars 

Named for a quaint city on the eastern coast of Vancouver Island, Nanaimo Bars were first introduced to the world in the early 1950s and, since then, have become a beloved dessert from coast to coast and beyond. This layered bar features a graham cracker coconut base, topped with creamy custard and a chocolate shell and the different textures and flavours combined result in a deliciously delightful dessert. Over the years there have been creative twists on this old favourite baked up in the kitchen, including a mint or peanut butter flavoured filling in place of the traditional custard or a unique mixture for the base layer; however, in the case of Nanaimo Bars, most Canadians feel that the old adage stands true: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Beloved Butter Tarts

Few desserts are more Canadian than butter tarts. Although the first official recipe was published in the early 1900s, it’s believed that they were first developed in the 1600s as a variation of a European recipe. French settlers in the Québec area attempting to recreate recipes from home had to adapt to their new surroundings and reinvent their favourite dishes using local ingredients that were readily available. Their sugary sweet filling and flaky crust exterior has since gained tremendous popularity around the country and especially in Ontario, where annual butter tart festivals and butter tart tours and trails celebrate this cherished dessert, making for an exceptionally tasty time. While traditional tart recipes call only the delectable gooey filling, some welcome additions include raisins, walnuts or pecans…though differing opinions on these are often cause for contention at the dessert table.

Maple + Bacon = A Winning Canadian Combination

We would be remiss in writing anything about desserts and not mentioning the ultimate Canadian combination: maple and bacon. Creative culinarians have been toying with this combo for years, but over the last decade or so, it’s made it way to the forefront not only at unique food festivals, but as a mainstream treat at local cafes and restaurants. This sweet and savoury combo can be enjoyed in basically any form, from cupcakes, to Rice Krispies Treats, to cookies, to bars and, of course, the quintessential Canadian treat: doughnuts. It’s hard to find a recipe that isn’t made better by adding bacon and this was definitely proven to be true on International Bacon Day, which was gleefully celebrated in September.

Pumpkin Spice and Everything Nice

October is synonymous with Pumpkin Spice: the lattes are out in full force and #pumpkinspice starts trending on social media, but there are so many more ways to enjoy the essential flavour of fall, especially in the form of baked goods. Made up of a combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, allspice and ginger, Pumpkin Spice is a warm, fragrant spice that can be easily mixed up at home and used as an addition to any dessert. Baking enthusiasts can concoct their own Pumpkin Spiced creations, like cheesecakes, cupcakes, brownies or even Nanaimo Bars or Butter Tarts…though this may spark some pretty lively debates at the dessert table.

A Taste of History 

Although not all Canadian desserts have made their way into the mainstream, there are a few much-loved treats that are well worth whipping up. The Flapper Pie – a traditional dessert from the Prairies – is made with a graham cracker pie crust, custard filling and a meringue topping and while it sounds relatively easy, it’s a recipe that may take some practice to perfect. Talk about a yummy hobby to undertake! Another local favourite comes from the east coast and features the freshest, juiciest blueberries from Nova Scotia. We speak, of course, of the Blueberry Grunt: a mouth-watering combination of blueberries and biscuits served with ice cream. Made with ingredients that are almost always found in your pantry and either fresh or frozen fruit (although, really, nothing beats freshly picked Nova Scotia blueberries), this is a sure-fire crowd-pleaser. 

This only scratches the surface of the delicious desserts that Canadians have baked up over the years, and there are so many more recipes to enjoy. Beaver Tails have long been hailed as one of the favourite treats of Canadians, having been first introduced to the market in the late 1970s, and if you’re looking for a coffee to enjoy with your dessert, be sure to visit one of the best coffee shops in Canada.

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