This walnut and date macaroon pie is a riff on the classic recipe with changes suitable for Jewish Passover. It is packed with flavors of dates, walnuts and a hint of salt.
Did you that in the late 1800s, the US Department of Agriculture sent out a team of explorers to find new crops to bring back and grown locally? These agricultural explorers actually set out to various parts of the world and brought back exotic fruits like the mango, avocado and the date fruit. Offshoots brought back from this Mediterranean region were planted in the Coachella and Bard valleys of California. Most of the date nuts we find in US grocery stores today are from these regions.
Walnuts are also commonly grown in this region of California. Hence the date and walnut pie is an often-used combination for pies among home cooks there.
Making this recipe
I tried to take the traditional walnut and date pie but give it a flour-less twist so that it can be cooked during Passover too, thereby widening its reach and use. The reason it is called a Macaroon Pie is because the egg whites create the leavening effect instead of traditional ingredients like all purpose flour. Moreover, the pie is quite rigid by itself, courtesy of the date fruit, thereby eliminating the need for an outer pie crust to hold the filling together.
- Knife: For this recipe, the average generic brand knife will do the job.
- Cutting Board: I do recommend having a wooden cutting board because they can provide good rigidity when cutting items like stiff meats or date nuts. Wooden boards also last a lot longer than the plastic variety.
- Pie Dish: A glass pie dish is best suited for this recipe because it benefits from a slightly longer baking time but makes the edges and top turn a nice golden brown.
- Hand Mixer: This is the most essential equipment for this recipe. As I’ve mentioned that the leavening comes from the egg whites. A hand mixer will let you form the required stiff peaks a LOT quicker than if you were using a whisk.
Key Ingredients and Substitutions
- Saltines – Saltines?!!! Yes, this recipe actually uses saltines which allows the individual ingredients to combine and form a well packed mixture. Any crackers with some salt content to it will work just as well too. I used Ritz Crackers during recipe testing and it worked just fine.
- Dates – There are over a thousand different varieties of date fruits. Medjool Dates are better suited because they’re larger in size, retain their composition and sweetness during the baking cycle and most importantly are widely available.
- Walnuts – Most of the walnuts used in baking today are English walnuts. They are milder in taste and easier to cut or crack in smaller pieces. It is also best to use raw walnuts so that they do not overcook during the baking process. Pecans, cashews or pistachios can also be used instead of walnuts but will alter the overall taste of the pie.
- Eggs – Any generic eggs (brown or white) would work well with this walnut and date macaroon pie recipe. The key is to let the eggs warm up to room temperature before using them to make the walnut and date macaroon pie. Cooler eggs will not bake well and the pie will end up being denser than required.
Generic brand white sugar will work just fine for this recipe. The sugar content per serving can be reduced by using a sugar free sweeter of your choice.
- Take the eggs and leave them on your kitchen counter for about an hour so that they can acclimatize with the room ambient temperature. Meanwhile gather all the dry ingredients and prep the dates and walnuts by chopping them into smaller pieces.
- Hand crush the saltines till they are small pieces the size of ball bearings. Add them to a medium mixing bowl and then add the other dry ingredients (walnuts, dates and baking powder) to it. Gently mix the dry ingredients together in the same bowl and keep aside.
- The single most crucial step is the beating of the egg whites. Stainless steel bowls are preferred because they don’t catch any oily residue from previous uses.
- Using a hand mixer, beat the egg whites until they form soft white peaks. Peaks are the beaten egg whites retaining that shape when the beaters of the mixer, are slowly lifted.
- Gradually add the sugar a few tablespoons at a time and keep beating so that the sugar dissolves easily. Take care not to overbeat the egg whites.
- If the egg white mixture looks watery and lumpy then it is too late. Start over with a new set of egg whites.
- Fold in the dry ingredients with the egg whites and then pour the batter in a well-greased pie dish.
- Bake for 30 minutes – the egg whites gradually leaven in the oven and coat the nuts and dates evenly.
PRO TIP: When beating egg whites, try to remember that the volume will increase as you beat it, so be sure to use a good-sized bowl. Also, the whisk and bowl need to be extremely clean.
This walnut and date macaroon pie is best served with whipped cream as a topping. The cream complements the gooey texture of the pie very well. A good beverage to go with this pie is something with a coconut flavor like my pina colada cocktail or a pumpkin spice latte for some epic fall vibes.
This pie keeps well outside for 3-4 days, can be refrigerated for a little less than two weeks and frozen for up to a month. The pie will need to be thawed overnight before serving, if frozen.
Frequently Asked Questions
Similar to macaroons, this pie is leavened using egg whites and doesn’t requires any flour. Hence it qualifies as a macaroon pie.
The consumption and storing of leavening ingredients are forbidden during the Jewish festival of Passover. Macaroons do not have any wheat based or leavening ingredients which makes it ideal for consumption during Passover in Jewish communities.
Dates are nutritionally rich in carbohydrates, proteins and dietary fibers. The major nutrient is carbohydrates in date fruits (~70%) but this fruit also contains a great percentage of vitamins and minerals.
Walnut and Date Macaroon Pie
- Mixing Bowls (Stainless Steel preferred)
- Cutting Board
- Pie Dish
- Electric Hand Mixer
- 12 Saltine Crackers crushed
- 10 dates chopped
- ¼ cup Walnuts chopped
- 1 cup Sugar
- ½ tsp Baking Powder
- 3 Egg Whites
- 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
- 1 cup Whipped Cream
- ¼ cup Chocolate Flakes
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Generously butter/grease a 9inch pie dish. Set aside.
- In a medium sized mixing bowl, add the dry ingredients (cracker crumbs, walnuts, dates and baking powder) and mix gently.
- Add the three egg whites to another mixing bowl (stainless steel or ceramic preferable) and beat using a hand mixer on high speed. Beat the egg whites for 4-5 minutes until they form soft white peaks.
- Gradually add the sugar to the beaten egg whites a few tablespoons at a time while continuing to beat the eggs. Keep beating until the egg and sugar mixture forms stiff white peaks.
- Fold the beaten egg whites and sugar mixture into the first bowl and pour into the pie dish.
- Bake for 30 minutes. Take out of the oven, once baked, and let cool for at least 20 minutes.
- Spread whipped cream over the pie with a spatula.
- Sprinkle chocolate flakes over the whipped cream.
- This is a VERY GOOEY PIE with texture similar to rice krispies.
- Make sure the bowl in which you beat the egg whites is clean and doesn’t have any residue. Steel or ceramic bowls are best suited for this step.
- The egg whites need to form stiff white peaks.
- The pie will keep well in the fridge for 1.5 weeks and in the freezer for up to a month. Thaw overnight in the fridge before serving from frozen state.