Thursday, March 25, 2010

Maple-Hazelnut Pie

Adapted from Bon Appétit, October 2008 on
Pie crust adapted from the Martha Stewart Baking Handbook by Martha Stewart
Serves 8

A word about maple syrup: Real maple syrup, that is.  Not the maple-flavored corn syrup that comes in squeezable plastic bottles.  Please try never to use that stuff.  Like most of us, I grew up on it.  And up until only a few years ago, I still preferred it to real maple syrup for topping my pancakes.  Truth be told, it’s thicker and somehow more maple-flavored than the pure stuff, not to mention a lot less expensive.  For the longest time, I liked the idea of real maple syrup, and would use it begrudgingly.  But I always knew my heart was with the fake kind. 

But then I discovered Grade B maple syrup.  I’d always bought Grade A, assuming naturally that A was better than B.  Less refined than Grade A, Grade B is thicker and darker and absolutely more full of maple flavor.  It has all the pure goodness of real maple syrup, and all the rich flavor and gooey viscosity of the fake syrups.  It’s in a class all by itself, and is the only maple syrup I use now, with not a hint of begrudging, for both baking and for drizzling over pancakes and waffles.  I can’t recommend enough that you give it a try!


For the pie dough:
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 stick unsalted butter, cold, cut into small pieces, plus more for coating the pie plate
1/4 cup ice water, plus more if needed
1 large egg white, for egg wash

Combine the flour and salt in a bowl and stir to combine.  Add the butter.  Rub the butter and flour mixture together rapidly between your finger tips until the fat is broken into tiny pieces and the mixture resembles dry oatmeal.  Tablespoon by tablespoon, drizzle the water over the flour mixture, mixing with your hand (use your actual hand, not a spoon) between additions, until the dough begins to hold together, without being wet or sticky.  You can test the dough by squeezing together a small amount – if it is still too crumbly and does not hold together, add a bit more water.   Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface.  Knead once or twice to bring the dough all together.  Shape into a flattened disk.  Wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least two hours or overnight.

Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch pie plate.   On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the chilled dough to about 1/4-inch thickness, forming a 10-inch diameter round.  Lift the dough with the rolling pin and drape it over the prepared pie plate.  Press along the sides to fit the dough into the pie plate.  Use kitchen shears to trim the dough along the outer edges of the plate, leaving a slight overhang. Using your fingers, crimp all along the edge of the dough to create a fluted border.  Chill in the refrigerator about 20-30 minutes. Whisk together the egg white and 1 tsp water in a small bowl.  Brush the dough with the egg wash, to coat thinly.  (You won’t need to use all of the egg wash.) 
Preheat the oven to 375°F.  Line the chilled pie shell with parchment paper, leaving a 1-inch overhang over the edges.  Fill with dried beans or pie weights and bake until the edges begin to turn lightly golden, about 20 minutes.  Remove the parchment paper and pie weights.  Cool the pie shell on a wire rack while you prepare the filling. 

To assemble:
3/4 cup Grade B pure maple syrup
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/4 tsp salt
2 Tbl bourbon
1/2 stick unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 1/2 cup hazelnuts
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract

Turn the oven down to 35o°F.  Combine the maple syrup, brown sugar, corn syrup and salt in a medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves.  Continue boiling 1-2 minutes, reducing the heat as necessary, so the mixture doesn’t boil over.  Remove the pan from the heat, add the bourbon and the butter and whisk until the butter has melted.  Allow to cool, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes.   

Spread the raw hazelnuts on a parchment-lined sheet tray and roast until lightly toasted and aromatic, about fifteen minutes or so, rotating the pan about half-way through.  Remove from the oven and cool to room temperature.  Removing the skins can be a real hassle, so just try your best – I like a bit of skin left on anyways.  Here’s a handy trick: Take a handful of cool, toasted hazelnuts and, holding them over the colander bowl of a salad spinner, rub them between your hands to remove as much of the skin as possible.  Place in the colander, then repeat with the rest of the nuts, Give the salad spinner a few spins and the papery skins will separate out from the nuts.  Discard the skins. Now, slice each hazelnut in half.  Scatter the halved hazelnuts over the base of the pre-baked pie crust. 

Whisk the eggs and vanilla together in a medium bowl.  Pour the cooled maple-sugar mixture into the egg mixture, and stir to combine with a rubber spatula.  Pour the mixture over the hazelnuts in the crust.  Bake pie until the filling is set and slightly puffed, about 50 minutes to 1 hour.  If the edges of the crust start to darken too much, before the filling is set, line the crust with a border of tin foil.  When the center of the pie is just slightly giggly, remove from the oven and cool completely on a rack.  Can be made 1 day ahead and kept covered with plastic wrap in the refrigerator.  Serve slices cool or at room temperature, topped with whipped cream.

For the whipped cream:
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 Tbl sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Whip the cream to soft peaks (When you stick a spoon into the cream and lift it out, a point will form then droop down after a second or two).  Add sugar and vanilla and whip to firm peaks (The point formed in the whipped cream will stand straight up and not fall over).





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