Fall always has me looking for comfort food, and new takes on comfort food. As a result, I’ve spent the last few weeks looking through church cookbooks, midwestern cookbooks, and other spaces to find the foods that are going to serve as comforting foods. I was looking through Savoring the Seasons when I saw that I had flagged this recipe for Maple Nut Bars some time ago, but had not yet made the recipe. No time like the present, so one weekend morning I found myself throwing together the recipe.
The recipe calls for black walnuts. I know a lot of people in my family who adore black walnuts, but I’m not one of them. And, the cookbook acknowledges that black walnuts aren’t for everyone, “If the distinctive flavor of black walnuts is too strong for you or the nuts are not readily available, substitute pecans, almonds, or walnuts.” My modification used chopped walnuts.
Maple Nut Bars
2 c all-purpose flour
2/3 c powdered sugar
2 sticks butter
1 stick plus 3 Tbsp butter
1/2 c maple syrup
1/2 c brown sugar, light or dark
2 Tbsp sour cream
2 Tbsp grated orange rind (optional)
2 c chopped black walnuts
Sift the flour and sugar together and cut in the butter using two knives, your fingers, or a food processor fitted with a steel blade, to form crumbs the size of small peas. Pat the crust into a lightly greased 9×13 inch baking pan and bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for about 20 minutes. (It should be firm and golden, but not too brown). Remove the pan from the oven and prepare the top layer.
In a small saucepan, stir together all the ingredients except the nuts. Cook over low heat until smooth. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook for about 1 to 2 minutes more, until the syrup begins to thicken. Stir in the nuts, then spread over the crust. Put the bars back into the oven and bake another 20 to 25 minutes. Cool and then cut them small–they are rich.