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Vegan Pecan Pie

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Loaded with eggs, butter, and other yummy things, pecan pie can be something vegan folks miss having from time to time. This version has an awesome flaky crust, a rich caramel-like base, and toasty nuts, but is 100% vegan.1

1Some vegans and vegetarians (though not me) avoid sugar and brown sugar, unfortunately, this recipe uses both. I'm not aware of any good substitutes for use in baking - if you know of some, please let me know!
 
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Step 1: You'll Need. . .

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Software:
For the Crust -
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 9 tablespoons vegan butter substitute (whatever type/brand you prefer to use)
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
For the Filling -
  • 1/3 cup oyster crackers (or 10 saltine crackers)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 1/2 tablespoon vegan butter substitute
  • 1/2 cup and 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup and 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup agave nectar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons applesauce
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon each fresh grated nutmeg and ginger, and cinnamon
  • 1/2 tablespoon whiskey (can be omitted if desired)
For the Topping -
  • 1 cup pecan halves (I like to chop them coarsely)
  • 1/2 tablespoon vegan butter substitute
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • pinch of salt

Hardware:
  • Mixing bowl
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Small saucepan
  • Small pan/skillet
  • Rolling pin
  • Pie plate (or muffin tin if making mini pies as demonstrated here)
  • Large biscuit cutter (if making mini pies)
  • Plastic wrap

Step 2: Making Crust

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  1. Add flour, sugar, and salt to the bowl and mix with fingertips to combine
  2. Form a well in the center and add butter substitute
  3. Work the butter substitute into the flour until it's evenly distributed
  4. Add the water and cider vinegar and mix until combined
  5. Turn out the dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap and wrap tightly
  6. Refrigerate at least one hour

Step 3: Making the Crust (part 2)

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  1. Remove the chilled dough from the fridge
  2. Roll the dough on a floured work surface using a lightly floured rolling pin
  3. If making one large pie: Ensure the dough is large enough for your pie plate, roll it up around your rolling pin, an transfer it to the pie plate
  4. If making mini pies: Using the large biscuit cutter, cut out rounds of dough and place them in the cups of the muffin tin. Scraps can be gathered and rerolled
  5. Refrigerate (or place in the freezer) while making the filling

Step 4: Making the Topping

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  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Add pecans, butter substitute, brown sugar, and salt into a small pan or skillet on medium heat
  3. When the mixture begins to sizzle, reduce the heat to medium-low and stir occasionally while making the filling

Step 5: Making the Filling

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  1. Crumble crackers into mixing bowl and add the water, allowing the cracker crumbs to soak it up
  2. Add all other filling ingredients and mix to combine well
  3. Pour the mixture into a small saucepan and bring to a low boil over medium heat, stirring constantly
  4. Once it comes to a boil, cook for two minutes or until it thickens (it will be about the consistency of pudding)

Step 6: Assembly and Enjoyment

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  1. Allow the filling mixture to cool slightly and pour (or spoon) into the crust
  2. Add topping mixture to the top
  3. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes or until the crust is lightly browned (mini pies will take a few less minutes)
  4. Allow to cool on counter top
  5. Enjoy!
A note about sugar: Cane sugar itself is vegan. However, the way it is processed is not. The pure white ultra-processed cane sugar is bleached using something called a bone-char filter (which is made from bones from cows). The filter itself does not become part of the sugar, but if it weirds you out to know that something you are going to consume has come in contact with animal parts, by all means, stay away from it (white sugar isn't good for you anyway).

If you buy something called evaporated cane juice, sugar cane crystals, raw sugar, blonde sugar, etc, it has not been processed through a bone char filter and therefore is vegan. It is often referred to as unbleached sugar If you buy it organic and/or fair trade, even better :)

Brown sugar is just white sugar with the molasses added back into it. Powdered sugar is just white sugar with corn starch added to it.

However, you can buy cane sugar that hasn't had anything removed from it except the water. You can buy it as Sucanat (SUgar CAne NATural) or Rapadura (a little more fine) or something called Mascobado (golden brown unrefined sugar from the Phillipines). I got the Mascobado from Whole Foods and have made a couple of things with it and it works really well and is very tasty. You can use any of these 1:1 in place of regular sugar.

Some liquid sweeteners I use regularly include Agave Nectar and Brown Rice Syrup. If you use liquid sweeteners in place of granulated ones, use less to compensate for the added moisture (these are sweeter anyway, so using less is probably a good idea)

Beet sugar is processed entirely differently than cane sugar and does not require to be filtered in the bleaching process. *Usually* sugar that is labeled "granulated" is beet sugar, but you will want to check with the manufacturers. (Some manufacturers use both and mix them, so if it's important to you to know, definitely don't hesitate to ask!!)

I just want to clarify a few things for any new vegans who might have been scared off white sugar all together:

1. Processed, white sugar is from sugar cane or beets. The sugar cane white sugar can be processed with bone, vegetable or mineral charcoals. There is very little documentation, so you really just don't ever know unless a company notes it or can tell you by calling (Domino has been able to in the past).

2. Beet sugar does not need this layer of filtering. But again, it's very hard to know if you are buying beet or cane processed sugar. Most beets are GMO, too.

Now, it gets better!
Need white sugar? Buy organic. I have yet to see an organic sugar processed with bone char. (Not to say it can't happen).

But, try to kick the white sugar and go natural if you can. It's better for your and guaranteed vegan.

Finally, I do not recommend agave, it's processed in a very chemically manner from what I can tell -- I've begun to switch to maple syrup when I can.

And foods labeled organic can't be GMO, if that matters to ya.

shesparticular (author)  SLCVeganista2 years ago
Very cool - thank you!
I never would have thought to use oyster crackers/saltines in a pie filling - very clever :)
shesparticular (author)  SLCVeganista2 years ago
They really help to get the right consistency, I find. :)
This says to add cider vinegar but the amount is not listed in the ingredient list. How much cider vinegar should I add?
shesparticular (author)  PamelaWeichmann3 years ago
So sorry about that, but thank you for noticing. It should say 2 tablespoons of cider vinegar - I've added it to the recipe above.
Thank you!
mykates33 years ago
Raw sugar could be used for those who avoid refined sugars.
shesparticular (author)  mykates33 years ago
Awesome suggestion, thanks!
coolflame4 years ago
Hi there!

Since my girlfriend is vegan and I'm not, I would like to surprise her with new recipes that taste well to both of us.
This recipe seems very tasty, and I would like to try, but I still have some questions.
With what can I replace the agave nectar? I don't think I can buy it in such small quantities just for this recipe ...
Can I simply leave out the apple sauce? Or how I can replace it well? (I'm allergic to apples)

Thanks for your ideas!
shesparticular (author)  coolflame4 years ago
Awesome questions, thanks!

In terms of substituting for the agave nectar I would probably use 1/8 cup each maple syrup and honey - that should work pretty well.

To replace the apple sauce, my first choice would be cooked and mashed pears, but if you're allergic to pears as well as apples, that option is out as well. My second choice for replacing the apple sauce would be mashed bananas, however that may affect the taste a little (but they should still taste good).

I look forward to hearing how they turn out!
kdave044 years ago
Ever since you posted baby pecan pies last year, I've wanted to experiment with a vegan version. This saves me the trouble (not to mention the pie mishaps I would surely have had in the process) ! I can't wait to try these out! They look amazing! Thx.
shesparticular (author)  kdave044 years ago
Thanks so much! Hope you enjoy them!