Where my parents live in Sacramento, their house is surrounded by huge walnut trees. The housing development is in what was formerly a commercial walnut orchard.
When I was younger, the trees blanketed the neighborhood with shade in the blazing hot valley summers, and in the fall, all of us kids spent weekends picking walnuts. We harvested 500 pounds of walnuts a year, just from our five trees.
These days the trees are getting old, two of them are already gone and the other three are just hanging in there, not really producing much.
An Excess of Walnuts Leads to a New Pie
Still, we have a special affinity for walnuts. Growing up, pretty much any recipe calling for pecans we would just substitute walnuts. Which is how I first started making walnut pie.
Like Pecan Pie, but With Walnuts and Maple
At its simplest, it's just a pecan pie for which you swap out the pecans for walnuts. But walnuts can be a little more bitter than pecans, so for this particular version, I've decided to use a dark maple syrup instead of the more commonly used corn syrup.
The sweet maple flavor helps to balance whatever bitter edge the walnuts may have. Like our pecan pie, this walnut maple pie is not overly sweet. I'm quite pleased with it (my parents both call it a winner!) and hope you will be too.
Tips for Baking Walnut Maple Pie
There's no need to blind bake the pie crust because of this recipe's long baking time. However, before baking, freezing the pie shell will help the edges keep their shape. They'll cook on the outside first instead of melting and sliding off the edge.
To help firm up the bottom crust, place a baking stone in the pre-heating oven and set the pie directly on the hot stone to bake.
If the crust browns but the filling needs to bake longer, tent the pie loosely with foil to keep the crust from browning further. If possible, move the pie down another rack in the oven.
Substitutions for Maple Walnut Pie
- Use black walnuts instead of English walnuts, or a mix of the two.
- Use pecans instead of walnuts.
- Use equal amounts bourbon or whiskey instead of rum.
- If you want, toast the nuts before making the pie to heighten their flavor. Spread them on a rimmed baking sheet and bake in the oven as it preheats until they're nutty and aromatic, 5 to 10 minutes, depending on your oven. (Pecans typically toast faster than walnuts and burn easily. If you're using them, keep an eye on them.)
Making Walnut Maple Pie in Advance
This is a terrific pie to make a day ahead. There's no need to refrigerate. It stores well covered at room temperature.
This dense, sweet pie also freezes well. Bake as directed, allow to cool completely, wrap in a layer of plastic wrap and a layer of foil, and freeze for up to 1 month. Defrost overnight in the refrigerator.
Walnut Maple Pie
Use a dark maple syrup (US grade B) for this recipe if you can. It has a much stronger maple taste than Grade A.
1 (9-inch) pie shell, frozen for at least 30 minutes (see pie crust recipe)
2 cups roughly chopped walnuts
2 large eggs, beaten
1 cup maple syrup (dark robust)
1 tablespoon dark rum, optional
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons melted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Preheat the oven:
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Make the egg and maple syrup base:
In a bowl, mix together the beaten eggs, maple syrup, rum (if using), vanilla extract, and melted butter. Sprinkle with flour, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Whisk until smooth.
Pour the base over walnuts in pie shell:
Spread the chopped walnuts over the bottom of a prepared pie shell. Pour the maple syrup egg mixture over the walnuts.
Place the pie in the preheated oven on the middle rack. Place a cookie sheet on the rack underneath to catch any drippings from the pie crust.
Bake for 40 to 45 minutes. After about 20 minutes (about halfway through the baking), you may want to tent the pie crust edges with foil, or use a pie protector, so that the edges don't get burnt.
Don't worry if the surface of the pie "cracks" while cooking. The pie filling will puff up while hot (because of the eggs), and then deflate while it cools.
Remove from the oven and let cool completely before serving.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 35g||44%|
|Saturated Fat 8g||38%|
|Total Carbohydrate 55g||20%|
|Dietary Fiber 3g||12%|
|Total Sugars 27g|
|Vitamin C 0mg||2%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|