Beaver Tails: A Bite of Canadiana

I’ve had the pleasure of playing tourist this summer visiting some of the famed attractions throughout Toronto and the GTA acting as a guide to my visiting cousin. In addition to enjoying her company, our surroundings and some beautiful weather, I’ve also had the opportunity to enjoy and one of my all-time favorite indulgences, and a true piece of Canadiana, BeaverTails.

Now I’m not talking the actual tail of the rodent that appears on the 5 cent coin, (which by the way is edible and a delicacy I’m told) but rather a sinfully delicious fried pastry (hand stretched to the shape of a beaver tail) that can be topped with a variety of delectable toppings, my personal favorite being chocolate hazelnut.

Chocolate BeaverTail  Reese BeaverTail

Adding to their charm is the fact that they cannot be found just anywhere, usually in tourist destinations, like Blue Mountain, Canada’s Wonderland, The Toronto Zoo, Harbourfront and the Rideau Canal in Ottawa (among many other Canadian destinations) which for me makes them an especially rare treat.

Apple BeaverTail Chocolate Banana BeaverTail

BeaverTails are often referred to as Canada’s quintessential dessert. The hand stretched pastry; float cooked in canola oil and served piping hot; evolved from a family recipe (passed down for 3 generations) of Canadian couple, Grant and Pam Hooker. Similar to a yeasted, cracked wheat baking-day treat that was prepared on early Canadian and American farms, the recipe was based on a German dish Küchl or Kökle meaning little cake and began being served by the Hookers in 1978.

Beaver Tails got their big break in 1981 when they were served at the Rideau Canal Skateway (the world’s largest skating rink) and soon became synonymous with strolling through the downtown core of Canada’s capital. Some 30 years later their popularity continues to grow and they can now be found in 80 locations across Canada, 2 in Colorado and 2 in Saudi Arabia. However, the biggest plug for this Canadian culinary icon came in 2009 when during his visit to Canada, President Obama made an impromptu visit to Ottawa’s ByWard Market to pick up a Beaver Tail on his way to the airport and the pastry received national media attention.

This fried doughy delicacy, painted with melted butter and served with various sweet and savoury toppings is truly a taste sensation. It is the hit of many outdoor fairs and carnivals (where it is not at all unsual to find long line-ups of eager beaver(tail)fans), and much to the delight of this event coordinator, also available for catering special indoor functions as well. So if you have not yet had the pleasure of enjoying one of these desserts, I suggest scurrying over to your nearest stand and biting into one of these piping hot pastries. As for me, I will continue to enjoy them on various outings this summer and may even plan my next party around BeaverTails and Tiny Tom’s Donuts (but that’s a blog for another day). Buon Appetito!

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