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Maple, brown butter & bourbon apple pie… with walnuts.

October 16, 2015

Maple brown butter bourbon apple pie with toasted walnuts.

Wow. That’s a mouthful and a half, huh? It didn’t start out being all of that. It started out simple: bourbon apple pie. And then I said to myself, let’d add some toasted walnuts. But this finished pie is a result of me letting Jay get all up in the kitchen with me while I was making it. I mean, it’s only fair- it was HIS pie. I don’t eat apple pie.

I know. Blasphemy. I LOVE apples, though, if that counts for anything.

Granny Smith & Ginger Gold apples for a fall apple pie (with maple, brown butter and BOURBON)

I’m a purist. I prefer things to be straightforward and to the point. My cupcakes are never (and never will be) green tea and macaroni and cheese cupcakes with tangerine frosting and Maldon sea salt flakes. I like things to be good, original, sturdy. My apple pies are usually just that; apple pies. I add the spices, sure, and sometimes I’ll throw in some brandy or bourbon, but for the most part it’s a basic apple pie. Jay, on the other hand, likes to throw all kinds of things into his food. He comes up with these crazy (to me) ideas right before making whatever he’s making, or while he’s making it, and it’ll go from a basic brisket or barbecued chicken to something recognizable but yet completely new… with all these ingredients I never would’ve thought to add. And it comes out amazing. So he decided- as I was slicing apples- that it would be fantastic to add brown butter to it. Oh… and some maple syrup, too.

So that’s what I did. And it smelled quite fantastic the entire time.

For this pie, we chose a mix of Ginger Gold (kind of a Golden Delicious variety, a cross between them and an Albemarle Pippin) and Granny Smith, the classic apple pie apple. We decided to make this pie randomly the night before, so we grabbed about 2 1/2 lbs. of apples to be on the safe side. This pie uses 5 apples, which is (usually- unless you have HUGE apples) less than that.

Maple brown butter bourbon apple walnut pie... whew, what a mouthful!

I SUCK AT CRUST. Always. It starts off great, and then I always have some kind of problem, particularly with the top crust. This time, I was all set to make a covered pie, not this garbage-y lattice I have going on. But disaster struck and I was forced to do this. It was a HUGE DISASTER. I won’t even say what it was… but it sucked. And the shitty thing is, it looked pretty decent pre-disaster. *sigh*

So, I’m not pleased with the visual here. At all. I can do better. I mean, I’m never the best at pie crust, but this? Nuh uh. No bueno. But it’s almost Halloween, so I’m gonna just leave this scary ass pie crust right here. And it IS scary looking.

Also, the entire freakin’ time I was making this and taking the photos, Mobb Deep was singing in my head, “Bad apple outta the batch, obsessed with gats…”  so keep that in mind. Gangsta pie.

Granny Smith's & Ginger Gold apples- for a maple, brown butter, bourbon and walnut apple pie.

Maple brown butter bourbon apple pie, with toasted walnuts.



  • 15 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon cold water
  • 5 “pie” apples, we used Ginger Gold and Granny Smith (look at this website for a list of other appropriate pie apples)
  • 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter
  • 2 ounces bourbon (or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract)
  • 1/3 cup dark brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons best quality maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup shelled walnuts, crushed/chopped a little and toasted
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 large egg, beaten


  1. First, you’re gonna want to make the crust: This recipe will give you enough for the bottom and top to be fully covered. If you have a food processor, mix the dry ingredients and butter until just crumbly, then slowly pour in the water and mix until combined. Knead into a ball with your hands and wrap with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for one hour or overnight. You can also do this by hand, I highly recommend using a pastry cutter/blender if you do.
  2. Peel, core and slice your apples. The thickness depends on you- if you like lots of thin slices, make them thin (you can use a mandoline). If you prefer them thicker and chunkier, then slice them thick. Toss them with the lemon juice in a medium bowl.
  3. Place butter in a large saute pan. Cook on medium-low heat until fragrant and browning- don’t let it go too long, it will burn. Once it smells “nutty” and is lightly browned, add the apples immediately and stir to combine. Cook 5-6 minutes, then add the bourbon. It might flame, so be careful. Cook until bourbon evaporates.
  4. Add the maple syrup, cinnamon, dark brown sugar and salt. Stir and cook until the sugar dissolves. Sprinkle the flour on top and cook until incorporated and thickened slightly. Add the toasted walnuts, stir gently, and set aside (I popped mine into a bowl and put it in the fridge until I was ready for it).
  5. Preheat the oven to 375° F. Take your dough out of the fridge and let it sit for 10 minutes, unless your kitchen is very hot; in that case only 5 will do. Divide it in half. It’s okay if you’re not exact. With a rolling pin, roll out the bottom half to a circle little larger than your pie plate. Be sure it’s not too thin- you want it to be an even thickness, but not much thicker than 1/4″. Lay it gently into the plate and pat and press it in. Anything hanging over the sides will be trimmed later. Spoon your filling into the dough. Spread it out so it’s even. Set aside.
  6. Roll out the second circle, the same as the first. Gently lift it and lay on top of your filling. Press the sides of it into the bottom crust with your fingers. Trim any excess that’s hanging over with a kitchen scissor, and fold it up to make a crust. Using a fork, press it down all along the edges. Make four small slits in the top of the crust, right by the middle to allow steam to escape. Brush with the beaten egg to create a nice, dark brown & glossy look. You can also do a lattice top if you wish (full coverage is easier for beginners).
  7. Bake for 1 hour, or until filling is bubbling and crust is evenly browned. In your oven it might take less time, so begin to check after 30 minutes.
  8. Remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature before slicing. Serve & stuff your face!

Maple brown butter bourbon apple walnut pie.

As far as the steps go, yes, there are quicker and easier ways to make an apple pie that involve less steps. But this one is worth it, I promise.

Maple brown butter bourbon apple walnut pie.

You can omit the bourbon altogether if you don’t drink or plan on serving this to kids. I’m sure a lot of the alcohol burns off, but if you’d rather not take the chance, just add the vanilla extract. Alternately, you could substitute brandy- or better yet, apple brandy- for the bourbon. Rum would work, too. Also if you can’t be bothered with the browning of the butter, I guess you can skip that too. Although it’s very easy and adds a lot to the pie.

You can serve it with fresh whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. Or by itself, as it certainly stands proudly alone, messy crust or not. Ladies & gentlemen: this pie was announced the  BEST APPLE PIE EVER EATEN by everyone who ate inhaled it.

Maple brown butter bourbon apple pie... with toasted walnuts.

If you’re into pies with bourbon, I also have a recipe for a sweet potato pumpkin pie with bourbon that you’ll probably love. If you’re looking for something apple-y but much easier, try this Irish apple cake (also made with Granny Smith apples) or this hazelnut and apple cake.

Soundtrack: “The Quiet Storm (remix)” – Mobb Deep feat. Lil Kim
Sources & Credits: Jeanette “Apple Pie” pie plate; vintage, black tablecloth; homemade, silver bowl; vintage, cutlery; Ikea.
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