The end of the year is like the end of a meal: time for a celebration of sweetness that will help finish out the experience on a euphoric high note. One of our favorite desserts*, Upside Down Apple Walnut Pie from Tarrantino’s, has gotten so enticing for Karen and me that we decided to make it at home. Okay, it was all Karen on this one. If’ you haven’t had a slice of this stuff yet, head on down there dig in (along with the best pizza in Richmond or whatever you might get from Tarrant’s). Or, you could do what we did and try to make it yourself.
I know this looks like an enormous sticky-bun, but it’s not. It’s an apple pie that was assembled on top of a bed of spiced and sugar’d pecans (we substituted) and then inverted. To begin with, Karen needed a deep dish pie pan, cuz ours is too shallow to accommodate the pie and the layer of nuts. So, we started with a trip to that really expensive kitchen accessory store in Carytown. We don’t normally go there since we’re averse to sticker shock experiences. But we were walking Jasper one day and popped in on a lark. As luck would have it, they had a nice stoneware pie pan for $15. I think we were expecting $30-40 and would have instead wound up searching TJ Maxx and Marshalls, probably buying one for $10-12. A pleasant surprise is a good way to start.
You wouldn’t know from looking at this apple pie that it’s hiding a secret. After loosening the crust from the sides, we flipped it over onto a platter. It only left a tiny bit behind and that got put back in place. By the way, we cheated and used a pre-made crust that turned out really well. But the best part of this dessert is the walnut or pecan topping. I’m sure I’ll get in trouble when Karen reads this, but the Tarrantino’s walnut topping is a cut above what we got from this recipe. They’re close, but it’s really tough to duplicate the combination of toasted spices and intense syrupy sweetness that makes the Tarrantino pie really pop with flavor. The staff says that they sell whole pies routinely.
Just so you know that this is still an apple pie, here’s a profile of my first slice (thin apple slices in seconds courtesy of the mandoline). This holiday season has been a series of decadent food experiences for me. I’m sure you can relate. This pie deserves good quality vanilla ice cream (Tarrantino’s heaps it on). Some kind of hot beverage, like say… mulled wine – might be a good accompaniment (although I hope I never see the stuff again). Regardless, 2008 has come to a close and I hope that you found a way to go out with a bang. Personally, I’ve got some jogging to do next year.
* Our other favorite dessert of 2008 is the peanut butter pie from The Black Sheep. There’s no way that we could even get close with that one.