Cook's Country (November 2014)
One of the Thanksgiving trends we talked about last week was the the surprising dearth of pumpkin pies. In a year in which the pumpkin-spice craze seems to have finally achieved absolute global dominance, it was especially surprising to see the magazines go light on pumpkin this year.
That's okay by us. We like pumpkin pie just fine, but sometimes it's a little less than exciting.
So we were intrigued when we espied this Maple Syrup Pie in Cook's Country. We loved the write-up, which promised a dense, rich pie full of maple flavor and not too sweet.
Not surprispingly, Cook's knocked this out of the park, as they are wont to do.
The pie is fantastic! We loved it, and our Fakesgiving guests raved.
A couple notes:
- Pie crusts. If you want to roll out sheets of pie dough, be our guests. We made things easier on ourselves by buying fully formed pie crusts in tins, allowing us to skip ahead to Step 3 in the directions. We feel no guilt about using a store-bought crust -- we were making 20 dishes for this meal and many, many desserts.
- Grade B is better. Maple syrup grades are confusing. It's natural to think that Grade A syrup is higher-quality than Grade B. But that's not the case. Grade B is merely darker amber and has a most distinct maple taste. (If fact, there's a movement afoot to change this labeling system.) In the case of this pie, when the syrup is the star ingredient, we think it's better to use Grade B. You'll have a more flavorful pie as a result.
- There's a secret ingredient. It's apple cider vinegar! As Cook's says, adding the acid of the vinegar helps offset the sweetness of the syrup, bringing the actual maple flavor more to the forefront. And it works.
- There's another secret ingredient. Okay, we guess it's not really a secret if it's in the title of the dish. But dolloping on crème fraîche instead of plain (or sweetened) whipped cream tempers the sweetness of the pie even further. We highly suggest you serve the pie with the crème fraîche.
So many Thanksgiving pies end up just tasting "sweet." Or "sweet, with nutmeg." Or "sweet, with pecans." This is a great alternative that actually has wonderful flavor and a less in-your-face sweetness, meaning it's balanced enough for you to want seconds! Or thirds.
We served five desserts at our Fakesgiving this year. It was neck and neck, but this one was ultimately declared the winner. What was the other top dessert? You'll just have to stay tuned...
Bottom line: We'd take this Maple Syrup Pie over pumpkin any day. And you should, too.
>> Read the full Thanksgiving 2014 recipe index
>> Read about this year's biggest Thanksgiving trends
1 (9-inch) pie dough round
1 3/4 cup pure maple syrup
2/3 cup heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons cornstarch
3 large eggs plus 2 large egg yolks
2 teaspoons cider vinegar
1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Grease 9-inch pie plate. Roll dough into 12-inch circle on lightly floured counter. Loosely roll dough around rolling pin and gently unroll it onto prepared pie plate, letting excess dough hang over edge. Ease dough into plate by gently lifting edge of dough with your hand while pressing into plate bottom with your other hand.
2. Trim overhang to 1/2 inch beyond lip of pie plate. Tuck overhang under itself; folded edge should be flush with edge of pie plate. Crimp dough evenly around edge of pie plate using your fingers. Wrap dough-lined pie plate loosely in plastic and freeze until dough is firm, about 15 minutes.
3. Line chilled pie shell with parchment paper or double layer of aluminum foil, covering edges to prevent burning, and fill with pie weights. Bake until edges are light golden brown, 18 to 25 minutes, rotating pie plate halfway through baking. Remove parchment and weights and continue to bake until center begins to look opaque and slightly drier, 3 to 6 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for at least 30 minutes. (Baked, cooled crust can be wrapped in plastic and stored at room temperature for up to 24 hours.)
4. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees. Bring maple syrup, cream, and salt to boil in a medium saucepan. Add butter and whisk until melted. Reduce heat to medium-low and whisk in cornstarch. Bring to simmer and cook for 1 minutes, whisking frequently. Transfer to large bowl and let cool at least 30 minutes. Whisk in eggs and yolks and vinegar until smooth. (Cooled filling can be refrigerated for up to 24 hours. Whisk to recombine and proceed to step 5, increasing baking time to 55 to 65 minutes.)
5. Place cooled crust on rimmed baking sheet, and pour filling into crust. Bake until just set, 35 to 45 minutes. Let pie cool completely on wire rack, about 2 hours. Transfer to refrigerator and chill until fully set, at least 2 hours or up to 24 hours. Serve cold or at room temperature.
Makes 1 cup
1 cup pasteurized heavy cream, room temperature
2 tablespoons buttermilk, room temperature
Combine cream and buttermilk in 1-pint jar. Cover jar with triple layer of cheesecloth and secure with rubber band. Let sit in warm place (about 75 degrees) until thickened but still pourable, 12 to 24 hours. Stir to recombine. Serve. (Crème fraîche can be refrigerated for up to 1 month.)