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Caramel Walnut Pie

Let the Thanksgiving prep begin!  Last Fall, one of my first posts on Pâte à Chew was Pumpkin Pie with Streusel Topping.  I wrote about it a few days before Thanksgiving; it is a recipe I have been making for years, and I wanted to share it before the holiday arrived.  Well, for a blog that was less than 3 weeks old, I got a hundred hits on that post the first day alone – and it has more total hits than any other recipe.  What did I learn?  People like hearing about new and exciting takes on holiday dishes.  So I have a new mission: to bring new, exciting, and Pâte à Chew-tested recipes to your holiday menus this November and December.

Caramel Walnut Pie is one of the recipes that caught my eye.  It is similar to a pecan pie, but slightly less sweet, with the addition of dried cherries infused with Port.  I didn’t grow up eating pecan pie; traditional pumpkin pie was always on our Thanksgiving table.  In fact, I don’t think I tried pecan pie until my mid-20s.  I found it to be fine, but it was never my favorite.  Anyone who has known me for more than 5 minutes knows I have a giant sweet tooth, but even pecan pie is too sweet for me.  Then I saw this recipe, and thought it might be a new dessert my walnut-loving grandmother might have approved of serving at Thanksgiving.

If you are the type of person that loves pecan pie-style pies, you will love this pie.  Texture-wise, it’s similar to pecan pie, and it comes out a little less sweet.  The cherries are boiled in ruby Port, which plumps them up and makes you feel like you are biting into fresh cherries.   Flavor- and texture-wise, the cherries are brilliant.  The cherries also retain a bit of their tartness, which nicely cuts the sweetness of the pie.  But, if you don’t really like cherries, you can certainly leave them out.

I will admit to doing something I haven’t yet done in the history of Pâte à Chew: I used a store-bought crust.  Yes, part of my goal on this blog is to make as much as I can from scratch, and I can certainly make a decent pie crust.  So what happened?  I woke up the morning I made this pie and simply didn’t have the energy to make my own pie dough.  After tasting the final product, I admit that homemade pie dough would have made this pie better.  Because this pie is mostly about the filling, however, the store-bought crust did not take away much from the overall experience.  The crust supports the gooey, nutty, caramel filling, and isn’t a main attraction.  So if you want to save time and buy the crust, I say go ahead: the filling is so easy to make, the pie will come together three times faster if you leave the dough to Pillsbury.

Caramel Walnut Pie with Dried Cherries

Adapted from Bon Appetit

Makes 8 to 10 servings

Total time: 2 hours

Note:  This recipe on Bon Appetit included a recipe for a crust, but the crust got terrible reviews.  So go with another crust recipe, or buy your own crust.

Ingredients

Crust
1 store-bought unbaked crust, or 1 recipe for your favorite pie dough

Filling
1 1/4 cups dried tart cherries, roughly chopped*
1/2 cup ruby Port**
2/3 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
2/3 cup light corn syrup
3 large eggs
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup walnuts, toasted, chopped

Whipped cream

* I think dried cranberries would work nicely if you don’t like cherries

** You could probably substitute other liquids for the Port (although I love Port, so I wasn’t going to change this!).  Madeira or a sweet red wine would work; or if you didn’t want to go with alcohol, a mixture of orange juice and water might be nice.

1.  Boil cherries and Port in heavy small saucepan until Port is absorbed, stirring often, about 10 minutes.  Cool completely.

2.  Preheat oven to 350°F.  Using electric mixer, beat brown sugar, corn syrup, eggs, and melted butter in large bowl until foamy.  Beat in vanilla.  Stir in walnuts and Port-infused cherries.

3.  If making your own pie dough, roll out dough on floured work surface to 11-inch round; transfer to 9-inch-diameter glass pie dish.  Fold overhang under; crimp edges.  If using store-bought crust, place the crust in a 9-inch pie dish (or, if it comes in a tin, just leave it in the tin).  Pour filling into crust.

4.  Bake pie until crust is golden and filling is brown and just set in center, 40 to 50 minutes. My pie took only 40 minutes, so make sure to check it at that time. Cool pie completely in dish on rack. Serve with whipped cream.

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14 Comments Post a comment
  1. kg #

    can you do it without the cherries? i hate dried fruit. what about whiskey instead of port..i looooove whiskey as you know

    October 12, 2011
  2. Yes, you can do it without cherries. If you were to use the fruit, I don’t see why you couldn’t boil the cherries in whiskey. But then if you don’t want to add any fruit, you wouldn’t have any need for the whiskey, would you? :)

    October 12, 2011
  3. Rebecca #

    I am totally making this, it looks right up my alley! Thank you for being the first to get me excited for Thanksgiving!!! :-)

    October 12, 2011
  4. Rebecca #

    Follow-up question: what are you doing for pie dough these days? I assume you’re making your own. I really love how easy and delicious the recipe from the Baked cookbook is (and it makes 2 crusts!), but I was wondering if you have a favorite…

    October 12, 2011
    • Well, since you clearly did not see (since I buried it in the last paragraph … on purpose … so no one would see) I was lazy and bought the Pillsbury crust from the store. I do NOT yet have a favorite crust recipe. But now I’m going to try the Baked recipe next, since you recommend it (I haven’t tried it yet)! In the past I have used a few times a Bobby Flay crust recipe (yes, random) that uses a combination of butter and shortening, but I’m not faithful to it.

      As a side note, the crust recipe that went with this pie recipe on Bon Appetit got terrible reviews, so I wouldn’t use that one.

      October 12, 2011
  5. PS, I think the first time I had pecan pie was when I was living with you 2L year :)

    October 12, 2011
    • Rebecca #

      Haha, hooray! You know I love me some pecan pie. I still throw temper tantrums at Thanksgiving every year if my Grams doesn’t make it. Yes, I am mature. :-)

      October 12, 2011
  6. Wow this looks absolutely delicious, what a great recipe! Love your blog, so glad to be a new follower! xoxo

    October 12, 2011
    • Thanks Kelly! I love your blog too, and I love that we’re both from the DC area :)

      October 12, 2011
  7. Oh no, I don’t know if I can think about thanksgiving yet… but this certainly sounds wonderful :) love the addition of cherries!!

    October 12, 2011
  8. Port, brown sugar and butter, sounds awesome.

    October 17, 2011
  9. butter, caramel, walnuts and cranberries! One really can’t ask for more!

    October 20, 2011
  10. Yes sometimes those pecan pies can be overly sweet. I had one at a neighbors recently and ate some of my slice but not all-it was just too much.
    The cherries in port does sound like a tasty addition to this nut pie, well worth trying. Your first picture here is really tempting. Great post.

    October 21, 2011
  11. Allison #

    This is amazing! :) I think it’s going to make it into the Thanksgiving menu.

    November 13, 2011

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