9/28/2014

vegan pumpkin pie with a gingersnap crust

Yum

So if you're going to delve into the pumpkin craze (and you are because, let's face it, once the leaves have begun to turn resistance is futile), you might as well do it right, starting with this vegan pumpkin pie. I admit that I felt skeptical at first. As much as vegan treats have many times exceeded my expectations, I know the very non-vegan staples of traditional pumpkin pie: eggs and condensed milk. It doesn't get any less vegan than that.


So how will this work? What will it be like? How can a pumpkin pie be vegan and made with only a 1/4 cup of maple syrup? Where's the sugar? Where's the dairy! Well. With our first (MASSIVE) pumpkin of the year roasted and ready to purée (which you can do too, and it's totally easy), I decided it was time to find out. Now I'm going to be completely upfront with you. This is one of those recipes that takes a big time investment. Not because the recipe itself is complicated or prolonged, but because you're going to have to refrigerate this pie for a longass time. What's recommended is 8-24 hours, so my advice to you is to prep it the day before, pop it in the fridge, and try not to think about it until morning. Sure, your dreams will be all about pumpkin people with pumpkins for heads, but who hasn't had that one before?


For this recipe (adapted from Love & Lemons' mini vegan pumpkin pies), you'll need:

For the filling:
1 cup of almond milk
1 cup of fresh or packed pumpkin purée
3 tablespoons organic corn starch
1/4 cup of pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon coconut oil, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt

For the crust:
1 1/2 cups vegan gingersnap crumbs (not too hard to find, believe it or not, as a lot of boxed varieties are made without animal products)
1/4 cup ground almonds
1/2 cup ground walnuts
6 tablespoons Earth Balance or coconut oil, melted (we went with half and half)
3 tablespoons brown sugar (Now, I couldn't say for sure since I've only made this WITH the brown sugar, but I've got a thought that the crust completely doesn't need it, as the cookie crumbs provide all the sweetness you need. Let me know if you agree!)

Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees and then you can begin preparing your crust. In the bowl of a food processor, using the S-blade, pulse your cookies until fully broken down. Add your almonds and walnuts and repeat this process. Next, add in your brown sugar and Earth Balance or coconut oil and pulse until combined or the crumbs start to stick together.


Press into a lightly greased 9-inch pie pan and place into the oven to pre-bake for 8-10 minutes. There's nothing here that needs to cook, per say, but it's just to help the crust set up before you add your filling.


In the meantime, in a medium saucepan (with no heat yet), add your almond milk and corn starch. Whisk together until no lumps remain and then whisk in your maple syrup. Put your pot over a medium-low heat and continue to whisk until the mixture starts to thicken. This is a pretty cool part of the process, I have to say. It made me feel a little bit like a mad scientist and I don't mind.


Immediately remove from heat and whisk in your pumpkin purée, coconut oil, vanilla, spices and salt. Set aside and allow to cool at room temperature for about 10 minutes. Once slightly cooled, add to your gingersnap crust and return to the oven for 15-20 minutes or until the top is set-ish and the color has gotten a bit more orange.


What is "set-ish?" you ask? Well, this pie is not going to get very un-wobbly in the oven. That's just not the way it goes. The real firming up is going to happen during that loooong overnight wait when you're having pumpkin dreams (nightmares?), remember? So don't leave it in the oven until it no longer moves. A little movement is good, even aspired to. So just let the top of the filling come together and then allow to cool completely.

Finally, cover well and transfer to the fridge to chill for 8-24 hours.


Here's the thing: if you're a vegan by choice or by circumstance and you really, really miss having pumpkin pie? Then this wait is totally worth it. I'm not a vegan, and probably never will be, and pumpkin pie is one of my favorite desserts. Once, I ate a whole one, by myself, in the span of two days. Impressive, yes, but that was also a rough year. IN ANY CASE: make yourself wait. You will not be sorry. As you know, that's the very heart and soul of this operation, so make it count. Vive le vegan!

Want some other pumpkin stuff to make? I thought you'd never ask: