Nutty Pies


This recipe, with just minor variations, will give you three totally different pies.

Recently I encountered a problem while baking a pie - a pecan pie, to be exact. I ran out of pecans, and didn't have time to go to the store. I checked my pantry and found some macadamia nuts -- you know, the roasted and salted variety. My aunt had sent them to me from Hawaii.

I had promised a pie for a nut-loving friend's party later that evening. So I grabbed the macadamia nuts and some coconut, mixed them with the filling and, viola!, a new dessert was born.

Now, macadamia nuts are not cheap. A jar costs about five dollars here in Austin, and maybe more elsewhere. So, I only used a portion of the jar. Instead of bourbon, I used Malibu rum (which has a coconut flavor, but can be omitted) and I added shredded coconut. I have since used both toasted and untoasted coconut, and either will suffice depending on which texture you prefer. The toasted coconut is a bit crunchier.

So, why am I creating yet another pie recipe? Well, this recipe, with just minor variations, will give you three totally different pies. The following recipe will be the base for just about any nut pie. An added plus is that this recipe will yield some really nice bar cookies, too. Just roll the dough into a squared baking dish, add the filling and nuts, and bake. When you cut into it, try diagonal cuts to make diamond shaped treats -- a yummy snack for kids and adults.

Nut Pie Base

  • 3 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted
  • 1 9-inch pie crust, unbaked

Mix the eggs, sugar, corn syrup, vanilla, salt, and butter together.

For Pecan Pie, add

  • 1 cup pecans
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon or rum

Mix these ingredients with the base before pouring into the pie shell. Bake at 350F degrees for 45 to 50 minutes, or until filling is almost firm. Let cool for 15 minutes, and then put in the refrigerator.

For Macadamia Coconut Pie, add

  • 4 ounces of salted, roasted macadamia nuts, half chopped
  • ½ cup of coconut, shredded and lightly sweetened, toasted or not.
  • 3 tablespoons Malibu rum (optional)

Mix these ingredients with the base before pouring into the pie shell. Bake at 320F degrees for 50 minutes or until filling is almost firm. Let it cool for about 15 minutes, and then chill.

For Spicy Walnut Pie, add

  • ½ cup walnut halves
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • Pinch of mace

Mix the cinnamon, nutmeg and mace with the base until blended, and then add the walnuts. Pour into the pie shell and bake at 325F degrees for about 50 minutes, or until filling is almost firm. Let cool for about 15 minutes, and then chill.

Why am I talking pies now? Well, these pies can be held at room temperature easier than meringue or custard pies, and their flavors do not change whether warm or cold. The nutty, sweet and crunchy goodness of nut pies can be complemented with a variety of sauces, ice cream or plain old whipped cream. You can use a basic piecrust for all three, or personalize your crust a bit with the addition of flavorings.

The base can be made several days in advance, as can the crust. Letting piecrust dough rest for a day or two, covered and refrigerated, is fine. What else is great about these treats? They can be frozen for up to six months without a noticeable taste change when wrapped tightly in plastic.

For Pecan Maple Bars, add

  • 1 8-ounce bag of chopped pecans
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • Pie crust dough for a 9-inch pie

Grease a glass baking dish that is 2 inches deep and 9 or 8 inches square. Roll or press the pie dough into the bottom of the pan. Your result may look lumpy, but that's okay; just keep it level. You can use a small can or glass jar like a rolling pin to smooth it out. Pour the nuts onto the dough. Mix the maple syrup with the nut pie base and pour on top of the nuts.

Bake at 325F degrees for about 40 minutes or until set. Let cool and then refrigerate.

These recipes can be altered even further with whatever nuts and flavorings you choose to add. What about hazelnuts? I would definitely chop them up and add some Frangelico to that mix, maybe even roasting the hazelnuts beforehand. Just coconut you think? Well why not make fresh coconut shavings, which are a bit larger than the bought kind? Heck, why not add some chocolate chips for those chocolate addicts you know.

This kind of baking is purely creative and absolutely delicious. Why not bake your nutty pie today?

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