Walnut Wedges of Decadence

Walnut Wedge of Decadence

Walnut Wedge of Decadence

This is what one of our friends at our international Thanksgiving Dinner called these. Let me tell you, they really are decadent. There is nothing healthy or low-cal or low-fat in these. But tastewise, they are one of the best desserts I had in some time.

The walnut wedges came about because of my laziness and incapacity, I might say. See, I am pastry dough-handicapped. I fear pastry dough, I fear the mixing (under-mixed? crumbly! over-mixed? stone-hard!), the rolling out (it will stick, no matter how much flour I use) and the transferring to the pie dish (it will tear no matter which method – drape over the rolling pin or fold loosely in quarters)… No matter which lovely blogger takes me through it with a magical recipe, step-by-step, sometimes even in person and live, I am afraid of the pastry dough (actually any dough that I have to roll out, including pasta though, which I guess makes me a failure among all foodies – and I live in Italy, of all places!).

Imagine my joy then, when years ago I came by a pate brisee /sucree (short crust pastry) recipe – I think it was on Clotilde’s blog – where I read the words “no need to roll out, just press the dough/crumbs with your fingertips into the pie dish”. Since then, whenever I can (actually even when I can’t) I go back to that kind of dough when I want to make a pie. For this recipe I used brown sugar instead of regular sugar and changed the proportions a bit – usually I use a bit less butter and sugar for that amount of flour.

And the filling? Years ago, for another thanksgiving party (in Germany, mind you), I had researched the perfect pecan pie. The 10 or so recipes that sounded best to me I threw together and came up with mine. And this year, since pecans were hard to find and very expensive I wanted to substitute them. And since I have about 2 kilos of shelled organic walnuts from my father’s very own plantation in Turkey, I didn’t think too long! But go ahead, if pecans are cheaper in your neck of the woods, or any other nuts (I imagine almonds would be good, too), use them. They will still be Wedges of Decadence.

Walnut Wedges of Decadence
own creation
serves 12 (at least!)

prep: 20 mins
bake: 45 mins

for the crust:

all purpose flour, 180 g
brown sugar, 110 g
butter, 110 g (very cold and cut into pieces/cubes)
salt, pinch

for the filling:

walnuts, 200 g (toasted and coarsely chopped)
cream, 250 g
sugar, 100 g
brown sugar, 60 g
honey, 3 tbsp
butter, 3 tbsp
bourbon whiskey, 2 tbsp
orange peel, 3 tsp
caraway seeds, 1 tsp
aniseed, 1 tsp
salt, 1 tsp

for the topping:

dark chocolate (70%), 100 g (broken into little pieces, or use chips)

Heat the oven to 180°C.

Mix all ingredients for the crust. You can do this with a food processor, a pastry cutter or with your hands (as I did). Knead till you have a crumbly dough that doesn’t hold well together. You can add just a sip of milk or water if you think it doesn’t come together at all. Dump the dough into a 28cm pie dish and press with your fingers into the dish. Try to press it to a uniform thickness. It will run up the sides, for this recipe you don’t need this, whatever goes up the sides, patch it back on the bottom of the dish/form. Put the form on an oven tray (this is a precaution against possible spillage later on) and put in the oven (middle rack) and bake for 18 to 20 minutes, till golden, but not dark. If it has puffed up, push it gently down after you take it out of the oven. Keep the oven temperature.

While the crust bakes, prepare the filling. Mix all the ingredients for the filling except the walnuts in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat (it will bubble up considerably). Let boil for ca. 5 minutes, stirring every once in a while. You want everything to dissolve and thicken together.The mixture will be very hot, be careful!

Take the oven tray with the form on it out of the oven. Distribute the walnuts evenly on the crust. Pour the cream/sugar mixture evenly over it, paying attention to cover every area while pouring – you don’t want to be forced to correct later on, since then the walnuts will come to the top. Put the tray with the pie form on it in the oven again. Bake for 25 minutes. The filling will bubble up and may (doesn’t always do it with me) spill, that is why you want the pie form on an oven tray! After 25 minutes, the filling should be thick and dark golden-brownish. Take it out of the oven with the tray, as it will be unstable and soft till it cools down.

Right after you take the pie out of the oven, distribute the chocolate pieces evenly over the pie, paying attention to not touch the filling with your fingers (hot!). Let sit for a minute or two, till you see that they are melting down. Take a fork and plow through the chocolate (try to keep to the surface only, not the whole filling!) to create a thin layer of chocolate all over the pie. Run a knife along the circumference. Transfer pie-dish first to a cooling rack, later to the fridge (cover with foil) to allow the whole pie to get stable and hard.

Serve very slim wedges, at room temperature. Go to heaven.

Walnut Wedge of Decadence - the profile

Walnut Wedge of Decadence - the profile