Maple Squares with Walnuts

Oh, Québec, I miss you.

It has been a while since our last trip to Montreal, and I am pretty eager to return. Those of you that are lucky enough to visit Québec in the winter (yes, lucky!) should take the opportunity to visit a sugar shack. Across Québec maple syrup is celebrated at “sugaring off” (giggle) celebrations held in the forests where maple sap is collected. You travel to a rural area where you sit down for a feast (usually in some sort of log cabin structure) featuring maple syrup—soups, meats, desserts, all flavored with the sweet nectar of the surrounding sugar bush. There is song and dance and a very merry time. It is a wonderful way to spend the day. Then you can walk around and check out the systems for gathering syrup and even watch them boiling it down. If you are lucky, someone will be making maple candy in the snow. We went a couple of years ago with Bryan’s grandparents (two of my favorite people) and had a blast.

The current issue of Saveur features a story on the maple syrup culture of Canada and I am working my way through the recipes using some genuine Québécois maple syrup from Bryan’s grandparents. These maple walnut squares are like a very thin piece of pecan pie. The filling is shallower, making them easier to enjoy. I reduced the sweetness a little when I adapted this, but they are still pretty intensely sweet. They are nicely balanced by a glug of cold heavy cream that I recommend you pour over the warm squares. The maple walnut filling sort of melts into the cream and the end result is pretty special.

Maple Squares with Walnuts (recipe adapted from Saveur)

  • 8 tbsp. unsalted butter, cubed and chilled, plus more for pan
  • 1 cup plus 2 tbsp. flour, plus more for pan
  • 1/4 cup plus 2/3 cup maple sugar
  • 3/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1  1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp. kosher salt (I did 1/2)
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten

Heat oven to 350° F. Butter and flour an 8″ square baking pan; set aside. In a food processor, process butter, 1 cup flour, and 1/4 cup maple sugar until combined; transfer to pan and press evenly into bottom. Bake until lightly browned, about 15 minutes. Whisk remaining flour and maple sugar with maple syrup, walnuts, salt, and eggs in a bowl; pour over baked crust. Bake until filling is golden brown and set, 30–35 minutes. Serve warm, in a bowl, with heavy cream poured over.

35 comments to “Maple Squares with Walnuts”

  1. …*sigh*thud!* ;o)

    …Oh does this ever look good! When I saw the first photo I thought Walnut Pie, sort of along the lines of Pecan Pie but upon reading realized that this is minus the sugary, corn syrupy filling and then I knew this was my kind of recipe.

    …It’s a cold, drizzly, dreary day here in Missouri and now I’m dreaming of a slice of this and a hot cup of tea – yum!

    …Thank you for sharing and blessings too… :o)

  2. tj, this is great rainy day food. enjoy.

  3. I lived in Ontario for 8 years and loved visits to the sugar shacks more than any other winter adventure. Syrup frozen on snow and licked like a popsicle: a sweet wonderland. Now in Florida, maple syrup is one of my favorite ways to bring a bit of Canada into our mouths. Can’t wait to try these!

  4. gotta love a “bar” especially if you’re in the midwest! These look especially yummy; maple syrup just can’t be beat!

  5. i had my first cabane à sucre experience last week, at the au pied de cochon outpost! it was OUTRAGEOUS!! i think i’m still recovering.

  6. Oh my!

  7. “Sugaring off” in Quebec sounds like a dream. And between Wisconsin and watching the documentaries Inside Job & Client 9 (back to back nights), I went to bed with a heavy heart. Think i may need to lean on some good old-fashioned baking to bring my optimism back.

  8. What are you doing to yourself, Amelia? Yes, bake something. But not from that crazy backwards issue of Martha Stewart Living that they sent you. We need to move forward.

  9. man, i miss maple syrup. the summer i spent working on farms in quebec gave me total fantasies about returning to the “sugar shacks” in march…some day…and making maple candy in the snow like little house in the big woods! so awesome.

  10. Thanks for sharing your experience with this recipe ~ I am thinking of making them myself and your description helped me. I think today I’m going to try and the roasted tomatoes with maple syrup as a side dish for dinner ~

  11. Tim, I just recently found your blog and I have to say that I love all the recipes you are posting. This one sounds outstanding! Just saved it to try when I have some time to bake this weekend. Thanks. Kirsten

  12. We’ll see if simply the cojured up smell, taste and texture of your bars will hold me, or if I’ll have to break down and bake them.

    Love your WI graphic. How ever so dissapointing to think how little regard we collectively offer our educators. May Truth and Beauty prevail in WI.

  13. Tim, the squares look awesome, but what I’m really envious of is your experience in Quebec! Before moving to Chicago, I lived in Ontario for most of my life and so had access to plenty of Canadian maple syrup, but I never had the chance to venture into Quebec for a sugaring off. Maybe this would be something even my parents would enjoy doing with me on a visit home…

  14. OMG: you are such a inspiration & so motivating!!
    i love good maple syrup!!
    tim, what brand knife is in that awesome photo…love the shiny blade against the “baked” parchment paper & the “texture” of the maple squares!

  15. Linda, it is a Wusthof knife. I don’t know anything about knives, my mom gave me those as a gift. They are definitely good looking.
    Yes to Pam. May truth and beauty prevail in WI.

  16. That whole maple syrup section is this month’s Saveur has been taunting me. These look beautiful. I’m dying to check out Montreal.

  17. This is the best use of heavy cream I’ve seen in a long time. Thanks for giving me a fantastic vacation idea, too; it’s nice to find wintry getaway inspiration that’s not all about Mexico or the Caribbean. Heading up north sounds like a wonderful way to seize the season!

  18. these look dangerously good. brilliant addition of cream. what about some fresh whipped cream? maybe with a little gran marnier… *drool*

  19. These look amazing Tim! A much more decadent version of a butter tart – I love it. And sitting in heavy cream? Oh man, too much awesomeness!

  20. omg. i was seriously just thinking about these the other day and couldn’t find a recipe online. every search i tried turned up the wrong thing.

    had these in fifth grade at boarding school in new york, and have been craving them ever since. you’ve made my year!

  21. Oh, and Chris, made your year!?!?! You do exaggerate. But I am glad you found your recipe. Enjoy!

  22. You have the knack of picking out the best recipes and sharing them. :)

  23. Shaheen- you are sweet! Thanks, for being such a loyal supporter.

  24. Oh my gosh, a sugar shack! I love traditions like these, and the idea of a completely maple-centric meal. I bet it was epic.

  25. these look lovely.

    growing up between quebec and ontario, i feel like my sense of nationalism was cultivated during elementary school visits to sugar shacks. nothing felt more Canadian (or exciting!) at the time than eating strips of maple syrup that were poured onto fresh snow to make candy.

    in sweden maple syrup is priced like gold, but the next time i get my hands on some, i am making these squares!

  26. Comment #2: Wusthof rules. And, total agreement with your Martha Stewart comment. On the west coast the magazine arrives about a week behind everywhere else (including the grocery stores rendering us 2nd class citizens, which has been my 20 year gripe about the enterprise ), so I didn’t know your exact reference until today. Blah. Not enough to say about spring OR beauty this month. Though, I am digging the orange lipstick. :)

  27. I will be making these with Michigan maple syrup!!

  28. THESE LOOK AMAZING!! We don’t get such a rnage of maple syrups over here in England, but I’m going to make these with whatever I can get asap. xx

  29. Wow! I’m sorry…. they look so beautiful that I’m at a loss of words right now (covering eyes with hand). Are there other nuts that could be used like pecans or brazilian nuts?

  30. Hi Kartik, Sure, you could do this with other nuts. I think pecans would also be good with the maple. Brazil nuts seem like more of a challenge. Good luck!

  31. Oh man. I have been looking for something maple-y for some time and this could very well be it! Thanks so much for sharing. Along with Saveur, I love your blog too. :)

  32. Well I really wanted to make this because it looks absolutely delish.. but didn’t have everything in the pantry! So I used half maple half golden syrup (sorry Canadians I know it’s a sin) and we don’t get maple sugar here in Australia so I had to use raw sugar (blaspheming again sorry)… then I had no walnuts either so opted for a mixture of all the bits and pieces in my cupboard: hazelnuts, coconut, dried dates and figs, and almond dark chocolate! HAHA It turned into a totally different recipe – fruit and nut! – so we’ll see how it turns out…no great hopes though. I’m sure it’s nothing to the sugary simplicity above!

  33. Can you give me a suggestion if I have only white sugar and maple syrup. I don’t have or know where to get maple sugar. Thanks

  34. Hi Cindy- First of all, maple sugar is easy to find online if you wanted to order it. It is sold at Whole Foods and even at some local grocery stores, check the baking aisle. As for substitutes, I don’t know. The maple sugar has a really concentrated flavor, so simply adding some maple syrup to the granulated sugar is not going to cut it. especially here, where there isn’t enough other liquid to reduce to make up for the additional moisture. You could try maple extract. You could also just try making it with white sugar.

  35. My eyes mIsted over as I read onE for the pan, I thought of my mother. She said things like “one for the pot” and lovely old-style cooking as her speciality.
    These bars sound so wonderful and are just the thing she would have baked in that “domain” of hers. I am doing these ones.
    I wonder if it would be nice to have some good old recipes mentioned as I am so fond of those memories, and, wouldn’t`you know it….. they include food!

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