The true shining star of this pie is the black walnut whipped cream. While it may take some hunting to find walnut extract, the nutty bite and unexpected earthy undertone it adds to an otherwise incredibly sweet pie ensures a proper balancing act of flavors, and helps to pick up the traces of walnut in the pie crust.
- Yield:make one 9-inch pie
- Active time: 1 hour
- Total time:2 hours
- For the Crust:
- 1 1/2 cups finely ground graham crackers
- 1 1/2 tablespoons ground walnuts
- 2 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter (melted)
- For the Baked Filling:
- 1/2 cup dark brown sugar (packed)
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup half-and-half
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter (softened)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- For the Chilled Filling:
- 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese (softened)
- 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
- 1/2 cup Grade B Maple Syrup
- For the Whipped Cream:
- 1 pint heavy cream
- 4 tablespoons confectioner's sugar
- 1 teaspoon black walnut extract
For the Crust: Pulse graham crackers, walnuts, and brown sugar in food processor until ground into a fine crumb, 10 to 12 short pulses. Place dry mixture in a large bowl. Folding with a rubber spatula, slowly add melted butter and continue folding until evenly moistened.
Press mixture into bottom of pie dish (using plastic gloves prevents sticking to hands), covering the bottom and sides. Refrigerate crust for thirty minutes. Adjust oven rack to center position and preheat oven to 350°F. Bake empty crust until golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes.
For the Baked Filling: For the baked filling, in a small saucepan, combine brown sugar, cornstarch, salt, and half-and-half over medium heat. Stir until it begins to thicken, 7 to 8 minutes, then add egg yolk, stirring until mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from heat, add butter and vanilla, stirring continuously until completely combined.
Pour into pie shell. Bake at 350°F for until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 15 minutes. Let cool for one hour.
For the Chilled Filling: using an electric hand mixer, whisk softened cream cheese, condensed milk, maple syrup, and vanilla extract in large bowl until combined and smooth. Pour over cooled baked layer and smooth top. Cover and chill for at least an hour.
For the Whipped Cream: using an electric hand mixer, whip heavy cream until very thick, gradually adding the powdered sugar one tablespoon at a time and walnut extract until cream forms stiff peaks. Layer on top of chilled pie layer generously, refrigerate until time to serve.