With it being almost Thanksgiving, I’ve been baking one pie each week this month. This way we get to taste all of our favorites throughout the holiday season, without being overwhelmed with too much pie for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Last week’s pie was this delicious Maple Tart, made with some of the pure maple syrup we brought home from Vermont in September. This maple tart was so fantastic, it’s definitely going on my list of must-bake holiday treats for many years to come.
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Vermont Maple Syrup
In September, my husband and I took a little trip to New England for our 5th wedding anniversary. Neither of us had ever been that far northeast, and we were hoping to catch the leaves turning at just the right time, drive along the coast enjoying the views and the salty air, eat lots of fresh seafood and catch up on sleep. With the late hot summer weather, we ended up timing our trip a few weeks too early to see much of the leaves’ changing colors, but even so, it was really beautiful there. I especially loved driving around all the gorgeous wooded neighborhoods full of charming houses surrounded by old, towering trees.
We picked apples in New Hampshire, ate lobster rolls in Maine and, of course, tasted pure maple syrup at the Morse Farm Sugar Shack in Vermont. Tasting the different grades of syrup was a unique experience. They have flavors ranging from Golden, to Amber, to Dark and Very Dark, and it’s so interesting the way the flavor changes the longer the syrup is boiled.
We brought home a big bottle of our favorite syrup, and it’s been absolutely delicious on pancakes and waffles. Our boys already have a taste for the good stuff, since we never use anything but pure maple syrup in our house. We also got this adorable maple syrup leaf bottle, which is just so pretty, and makes pancakes on Sunday extra fancy.
How to Make Maple Tart
Baked in a crisp shortbread pastry crust, the filling for my maple tart is very similar in flavor and texture to a pecan pie (but without the pecans and slightly less gooey), with delicate, buttery maple notes. Maple whipped cream adds even more maple flavor to this dessert, and I’m seriously crushing on those soft swoops of cream, still rippled from the mixer beaters.
Blind-Bake the Pastry Crust
The pastry crust is similar to shortbread, so it’s rich, buttery, flavorful, and not too sweet. The dough is a simple mixture of flour, sugar, salt, butter and an egg yolk. You’ll be cutting the cold butter into the dry ingredients first, and then working in the egg yolk to moisturize and bind the dough together. Then take the moistened dough crumbs and press them evenly into your tart pan. No rolling of dough required!
Since the filling is baked for such a short time, you’ll need to blind-bake or pre-bake the crust first to ensure it is golden brown and crisp. This works best with a very cold crust, so after pressing the crumbs into the pan, freeze the crust for one hour. Then brush the crust with egg white, cover it with parchment paper, and fill it with pie weights or dried beans to bake. For a more comprehensive explanation of blind-baking, please see my post all about Pie Dough.
Bake the Filling.
While the crust bakes, the filling is quick and easy to get ready. Whisk pure maple syrup together with light corn syrup, brown sugar, cream, melted butter, eggs and vanilla. A little fine almond flour thickens it just a bit and adds a hint of nuttiness. And a pinch of coarse Kosher salt (as well as a good amount of salt in the crust) rounds out the sweetness.
Pour the filling into the hot crust and bake until slightly puffed and set, but still a little jiggly. Let cool completely.
Make the Maple Whipped Cream
This maple tart is fantastic on its own, but the maple whipped cream makes it even better. All you need is cold heavy whipping cream, maple syrup and a little maple extract. The extract is optional, but it just enhances the maple flavor a little more. Whip everything together until thick and fluffy, and try not to eat the whole pie in one sitting.
Making the Powdered Sugar Stencil on Your Maple Tart
The snowy powdered sugar stencil I did on top of my maple tart is my favorite part. The wintery scene with snow-covered hills, evergreen trees and a deer is just so dreamy and reminiscent of a white Christmas. When I shared this pretty tart on my Instagram, I had such a great response to the powdered sugar design on top, that I decided to share with my readers how I made it.
First, you have to use non-melting powdered sugar, also known as “doughnut sugar”. Regular powdered sugar or icing sugar will melt and get splotchy when sprinkled onto desserts, but this stuff is pretty magical. It stays put for days, never melting into your dessert, so your design stays absolutely perfect. You can use this for sprinkling on top of lemon bars or coating powdered sugar donuts, without fear of the powdered sugar melting away.
I actually made the stencil myself, so I scanned it in and included a link below to the free printable with instructions for how to use it.
Click Here for Free Printable Stencil Template
(Download from Dropbox)
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- 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 1 tsp coarse Kosher salt
- 10 tbsp cold, unsalted butter, diced
- 1 large egg, yolk and white separated
- ½ cup good-quality pure maple syrup
- ¼ cup light or dark brown sugar, lightly packed
- ¼ cup light corn syrup
- ¼ cup heavy whipping cream
- ¼ cup unsalted butter, melted
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 large eggs
- ½ cup fine almond meal or almond flour
- ⅛ tsp coarse Kosher salt
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream, cold
- 2 tbsp pure maple syrup
- ½ tsp maple extract
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar and salt. Scatter the butter pieces over the flour, then use a pastry cutter to cut the butter into the flour until very small pieces of butter remain.
- Add the egg yolk and toss with a fork, then use your hands to work the butter and egg yolk (reserve the egg white for later) into the crumbs until evenly distributed, moistened and the mixture starts to come together; when you squeeze a handful of crumbs together in your fist, they should hold together like dough.
- Dump the dough crumbs into a 9-inch round tart pan with a removable bottom. Spread the crumbs out then press them firmly and evenly against the bottom and up the sides of the pan all the way up to the top edge. Use a fork to lightly prick or “dock” the crust. Freeze for one hour (or overnight, if you want to prepare it in advance).
- Preheat the oven to 375. Use a pastry brush to brush the frozen crust lightly with the reserved egg white. Lay a piece of parchment paper over the crust, and fill with dried beans (or ceramic pie weights), spreading the beans out to fill the paper around the edges. Set the pan on a baking sheet.
- Bake the crust for 20 minutes. Carefully, remove the beans and the paper, and bake, uncovered, for an additional 10 minutes until the crust is golden brown. Remove from the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 350.
- In a large bowl (you can just use the same bowl you mixed up the crust in), whisk together all of the filling ingredients.
- After pre-baking the crust, whisk up the filling again, and pour into the hot crust. Cover the edges of the tart with a pie shield so they don’t get overly brown. Taking care not to slosh the filling, carefully return the tart to the oven.
- Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. The top of the filling will be golden brown, puffed up a bit, and should still have a slight jiggle; as it cools, it will flatten back out and the filling will set up.
- Set the tart on a cooling rack and cool completely (or overnight) before decorating and/or serving.
- If decorating with powdered sugar, make sure you are using non-melting powdered sugar. I’ve purchased mine on Amazon.
- For the maple whipped cream, use an electric mixer to beat all ingredients until soft peaks form.