Since moving out of New England 11 years ago, my husband has sorely missed ready availability of his most favored ice cream flavor: maple walnut. I adapted this tart recipe from an old Good Housekeeping angel pecan pie recipe to help him bide the time between visits home.
(Note: Making the crust ahead and storing it overnight in the fridge, gives it a slightly chewy texture that balances the silky whipped cream very nicely.)
Test Kitchen Notes
WHO: cheese1227 is a food writer and lifelong student of the culinary arts.
WHAT: A tart of maple-kissed whipped cream with a meringue crust, topped with candied walnuts.
HOW: A modular cooking process -- whip up and bake the meringue, then fill with maple cream at your convenience -- makes this tart perfect for a busy day.
WHY WE LOVE IT: Pastry crust is fine and dandy, but the unique shell for this tart, with its walnuts and crushed soda crackers, is more than just a holding pen for its filling. —The Editors
one 8 x 11 inch rectangular tart
½ cups granulated maple sugar
½ cups white sugar
3 large egg whites at room temperature
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup good quality New England maple syrup, divided
Preheat oven at 350 degrees F. Butter the bottom and sides of a rectangular tart pan. A large round one will work too. But regardless of its shape, it’s best to have a removable bottomed pan.
Combine white and maple sugars in a small bowl. Put egg whites and salt in a large mixing bowl and beat them together at high speed until you get soft peaks. Keep whipping them as you slowly add the sugar, two tablespoons at a time until the cup of sugar is fully incorporated and egg you’ve got glossy peaks. Slowly mix in two tablespoons of maple syrup. Fold in the chopped walnuts, crushed soda crackers and baking powder. Spread the mixture into the prepared tart pan, taking care to make the sides high, so that there is good indentation in the middle to hold the maple whipped cream for service.
Bake the shell 25-35 minutes or until the meringue is golden but not brown. Remove from the oven, and cool completely. Refrigerate the shell at least two hours (preferably overnight if you’ve got the time).
Meanwhile, put ¼ cup of maple syrup in a non-stick skillet and add the walnut halves, coating them with syrup. Using a medium-high flame, heat up the mixture, letting the syrup bubble up around the nuts. When the syrup is caramelized and very sticky and the nuts are coated, they are sufficiently candies. Lift the nuts out of the pan one at a time to let them cool separately on waxed paper or a Silpat mat. When they are cooled completely, store them in an air tight container.
When you are ready to serve the tart, whip the cream to soft peaks. Add 4 Tablespoons of maple syrup and whip the cream a bit more. Spread the cream in the meringue cavity. Top with the candied walnuts and serve. This does keep well in the fridge for several hours.
I am an excellent eater (I have been all my life). I’m a pretty good cook (Ask my kids!). And my passable writing improves with alcohol (whether it's the writer or the reader that needs to drink varies by sentence.). I just published my first cookbook, Green Plate Special, which focuses on delicious recipes that help every day cooks eat more sustainably.