Monday, January 14, 2013

Week 2- Cure for the Winter Doldrums

I know as a mother I should never say "I hate" anything in front of my kids.  But I have to say "I hate winter." I hate spending 25 minutes getting the girls dressed in winter gear only to have them strip everything off in the car.  I hate freezing my butt off while they play outside because I know they need fresh air.  I hate itchy wool coats, scratchy scarves and wet socks.

But I didn't always hate winter.  In fact, I used to love it.  I loved it so much I spent many years of my life in places that were cold and wintry- and my warm weather friends would say "Why do you do that to yourself?"  I'm not exactly sure when I transitioned over to the winter hating camp, but it definitely happened. 

My kids, however, are split on this.  The Big One thinks snow and cold are fantastic.  The Little One usually hides in the garage when we're supposed to be outside (Ironically she is the one born in the winter.)

The Big One enjoying snow

Cocoa, flannel pajamas, sledding- there's lots to love.  And back in the days when  I lived in northern New England, I  learned about the winter phenomena of maple tapping and sugar making.  And I love maple in any form- syrup, sugar, candy.

The Little One's artistic renderings on the bottle

To cure my winter doldrums, I decided to make a maple pie- which  requires maple syrup and maple extract.

But apparently maple extract is a hard thing to find.  I called local supermarkets, Whole Foods, Fairways, cooking stores I used to go to in NJ.  No dice.  I looked online and could get it from Amazon, but it would take a while to get it.  Finally I called the local natural foods store.  Yup, 2 miles from my house and they had it.  I opened it up to see what it smelled like.  This stuff is a little jar of heaven- I cracked it open at least 50 times before I made this pie.  And I had serious pancake cravings for days.

Goodness knows I needed something to calm me down after last week's pie crust nightmare.  (BTW, this week's crust was delicious, but trust me it looks awful as you'll see far below.  Hopefully by the end of the year I'll be able to make a crust that looks good.)

My helpers
So far, so good

This pie was really easy to make and left my kitchen smelling incredible.  And seriously the filling is so sweet and creamy- I think Canadian angels go to sleep at night in this stuff.

Both my husband and I enjoyed it- and the Little One did too! 

One weird thing- and I'm not sure how to correct it- is that since the filling is so light and fluffy, the walnuts sink to the bottom.  It's not a bad thing but it is very noticeable.

Maple Walnut Cream Pie
Adapted from a Crisco recipe

Prebaked crust (I used a shortening based crust)

1 1/4 cups maple syrup- I used Grade B but I'm not sure that's necessary
1/2 cup milk- I use whole when baking
3 eggs, separated
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1/4 cup warm water
1 teaspoon pure maple extract
1 cup whipped cream- I made my own from scratch with heavy cream and sugar
3/4 chopped walnuts

For the filling, combine maple syrup and milk in the saucepan.  Add beaten egg yolks to the pan (and thank you recipe for not leaving me with extraneous egg parts.)  Cook and stir two minutes on medium heat.

Dissolve gelatin in water.  Remove saucepan from heat and stir in dissolved gelatin and maple extract. (This is where the heavenly smell develops.)  The recipe says to refrigerated 30-45 minutes but I would suggest at least an hour for it to set properly.

Beat egg whites until stiff and then fold in whipped cream.  Stir this into the maple filling. Stir in nuts.  Spoon into baked pie shell and then refrigerate until firm. 

And that's it!  Ready for Week 2 of ugly pie?


  1. I bet this was better than pancakes overflowing with tons of maple syrup! Waiting for Week 3's write up!

  2. That is an adorably funny looking pie. But who cares what it looks like as long as it tastes good...

  3. Forget about a tasty pie, maybe my goal for the year should have been making a pretty pie that I could actually show to people. Hopefully things will get better when I do a double crust pie!