For three decades, author Dorie Greenspan has been enchanting home cooks with her expert recipes. Her latest cookbook, released in October, is her 14th and tackles the wide world of baking. In Baking with Dorie, the James Beard Award-winning author and journalist presents recipes inspired by her travels and by her desire to put a twist on some old classics. For Thanksgiving, she’s sharing with Robb Report readers a fresh take on the pecan pie that happened almost as a happy accident.
I didn’t really mean to shake up a holiday classic, but when the sack I had in the freezer turned out to have walnuts, not pecans, I made the swap. I made another change too: I replaced the traditional pecan-pie sweetener, corn syrup, with maple syrup, a natural with walnuts. The pie has the bumpy, lightly crusty top that I love in pecan pie. And the filling’s got that characteristic softness broken up by pieces of nuts. But the pie has additional pleasures: a slight, welcome touch of bitterness, since walnuts aren’t as sweet as pecans, and a little crunch, since the meaty nuts retain their bite, such a delightful surprise. Of course, you can make this pie with pecans and/or with corn syrup, if you’d like*, but I hope you’ll give this new combination a try.
- 1 9-inch piecrust, partially baked and cooled (or use a store-bought piecrust)
- .75 c. pure maple syrup
- .5 c. packed brown sugar
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1.5 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- .5 tsp. fine sea salt
- .5 tsp. ground cinnamon, or more to taste
- 3 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 1.5 c. walnuts (halves or pieces)
- Lightly sweetened whipped cream or ice cream for serving (optional)
Center a rack in the oven and preheat it to 400 degrees F. Put the pan with the partially baked crust on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a baking mat.
Whisk the syrup and brown sugar together in a large bowl. One by one, whisk in the eggs, making sure each is blended in before adding the next. Whisk in the vanilla, salt and cinnamon, followed by the butter. Switch to a flexible spatula, add the walnuts and stir until they’re coated. Turn the filling into the crust and poke the nuts down with the spatula.
Slide the pie into the oven and bake for 5 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F and bake the pie for another 30 to 35 minutes, but take a look at the crust after 10 minutes—if it looks brown, cover it with foil. You want to bake the pie until it has puffed all the way to the center. It will rise high and crack, and that’s fine—it will settle itself down within minutes as it cools. Transfer the pie to a rack and cool to room temperature.
Serve the pie with whipped cream or ice cream, if you’d like.
STORING: The pie is best the day it is made. If you’ve got leftovers, you can leave them covered at room temperature or chill them— they’re good, but different each way.
A WORD ON THE CRUST: You can finish the edge of the crust any way you’d like, including with flutes. Often I just press the dough against the rim of the pie pan and then trim it even all around. Sometimes I decorate it by pressing the tines of a fork against the edges.
*TO MAKE IT A PECAN PIE: You can swap the maple syrup for light (my preference) or dark corn syrup, and pecans for the walnuts. If you want to serve pecan pie to my husband, please add some chopped dark chocolate or chocolate chips; .5 c. should do it.
Excerpted from Baking with Dorie: Sweet, Salty, & Simple © 2021 by Dorie Greenspan. Photography © 2021 by Mark Weinberg. Reproduced by permission of Mariner Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.