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Sugar Free Pie! (technically speaking)

A perfect slice of maple cream pie.

A perfect slice of maple cream pie.

As a kid, I doused my pancakes and waffles in what can only be described as maple-ish syrup. You know, Mrs. Butterworth, Log Cabin Lite, etc. No shame in that. I didn’t even know there was such a thing as “real” maple syrup until I landed in New Hampshire for college. When we’d go out to breakfast, or more likely, to the 24-hour truckstop diner one town over, it blew my mind that you could get my version of maple syrup included with your pancakes, but they charged extra for the real thing. But it really only takes one taste to fall for real maple. It’s that much better.

Other than on top of the aforementioned pancakes and waffles, it’s hard to come by an opportunity to indulge in maple syrup where you’ll really get to appreciate the flavor. With 3/4 cup of maple syrup in place of the sugar, this maple cream pie delivers all the maple you can ask for.

The original recipe, Nutmeg Maple Cream Pie, comes from The New York Times, via smitten kitchen. As originally printed, it’s pretty much perfect for the holidays. I’ve seen double batches disappear each of the last two years.

But when it’s not the holidays, the nutmeg seems a little bit strong to me. I made it last weekend and decided to take the nutmeg out and let the maple shine. I used cinnamon maple syrup, so it still had a bit of spice, but didn’t reach the eggnog intensity of the original. Perfect for a not-quite-Thanksgiving, early Fall dinner.

Cinnamon Maple Syrup

Simmer the maple syrup until it almost boils over

Simmer the maple syrup until it almost boils over

Place two or three cinnamon sticks in a small saucepan. Add 1 C of maple syrup. Bring the syrup up to a simmer over medium heat. When the syrup is about to boil over, remove the pan from the heat. If you’ve got the heat low enough that it doesn’t start frothing pretty quickly, just take it off the heat after about 10 minutes.  You should end up with about 3/4 C. of syrup, which is just right for the pie. Let the syrup cool, with the cinnamon sticks still in there, for an hour. If you’re using the cinnamon maple syrup for this pie, just let it cool while you’re getting other things ready, because you’re just going to heat it up again in a few minutes.

Maple Cream Pie

3/4 cup maple syrup (cinnamon or not)
2 1/4 cups heavy cream
4 egg yolks
1 whole egg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 9-inch pie crust

1. Par-bake your pie crust, according to your recipe or the instructions on the label. When the crust is out, set the oven to 300°F.

Slightly over-baked crust

Slightly over-baked crust

Pie crust is a project for a whole different day. This time around, I had a complete crust failure when I attempted a ginger snap crumb crust, so I went with what turned out to be a pretty good frozen crust from Pillsbury.

Mmm.... cream

Mmm.... cream

2. Prepare filling: In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, reduce maple syrup by a quarter, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in cream and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk together egg yolks and egg. Whisking constantly, slowly add cream mixture to eggs. Strain mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a cup or bowl with pouring spout. Stir in salt and vanilla.

If you created a bunch of foam while whisking the filling, skim it off the top. Otherwise, you won’t be able to tell by looking when the custard has set while baking, and you’ll overcook the pie like I may have done this time. Not that it affects the flavor. It just isn’t quite as creamy a texture if you bake it too long.

Before

Before

4. Pour filling into crust and transfer to a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until pie is firm to touch but jiggles slightly when moved, about 1 hour. Let cool to room temperature before serving. With a standard 9 inch crust, you’ll definitely have some filling left over, but I don’t know if it’s enough for a second pie. I’d just put it in a ramekin and bake it along with the pie.

After

After

    One Comment

    1. Dan says:

      mmmmmmmm…..maaaaapley.

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