Thanksgiving has the best menu of any holiday by far, which can make dietary restrictions a bummer come November (the only time it occurs to me to miss turkey). Fortunately, the best fall food, meaning pumpkin, can still be served in a million delicious, vegany ways. And pumpkin pie totally has a place on everyone's table!*
This pie recipe, while falling under the category of several health-conscious headings, is by no means light (a person could probably live off one of these guys for a week!). Rich ingredients are used to attain the same consistency as any dairy-filled pie, which results in a higher calorie count - see notes below.
This is suggested as a holiday dessert that can be enjoyed by every Thanksgiving family stereotype, from the uncle who is anti-tofu on principle, to the cousin who just read that gluten will kill you, to the visiting vegan college kid and her weird boyfriend.
*Okay, unless you are allergic to nuts. Than you shouldn't be in the same room with this pie.
- 2 cups pumpkin
- 2 cups coconut milk
- 1 cup cashews
- 1/2 cup cane sugar
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 Tbs molasses
- 1 Tbs pumpkin pie spice
- 4 Tbs arrowroot dissolved in 4 Tbs water or 4 tsp egg replacer dissolved in water (See Step 6 for more on these options)
- 1 1/4 cup pecans
- 1 Tbs brown sugar
- 2 Tbs Earth Balance (soy/gluten free butter substitute)
- Coconut whipped cream
- Pumpkin seeds
Makes 8 Servings
Notes on Calories
This is a pretty high calorie recipe (half are from the nuts) so a few suggestions if you want to reduce that...
- Using a ready-made pie crust instead of pecans can cut about 100 calories per serving (assuming wheat isn't an issue)
- Lite coconut milk will reduce each serving by 60 calories
- The cashews account for about 150 calories per serving so you could reduce them or try half cashew/half tofu (assuming soy isn't an issue). I haven't tried that yet, so if you do, please post on the results!
- Just have a tiny slice : )
Step 1: Roast Pumpkin
Preheat oven to 350oF
1. Cut pumpkin in half and remove seeds (I cannot recommend using a dovetail saw enough. They make cutting any squash way easier to manage. Seriously.)
2. Place halves in baking dish and add 1/4" water
3. Roast for 40 - 60 minutes, until tender - when a fork can pierce through
4. Let cool before removing pumpkin from skin
Step 2: Soak Cashews
Soak cashews in water with a tsp of salt for an hour, give or take. Drain cashews and pour coconut milk into mixing bowl. Blend together with a food processor or blender until smooth.
Step 3: Filling
Add pumpkin, sugar, molasses, spice and thickener to the coconut/cashew mixture and continue to blend (I was using an immersion blender in the picture. Not ideal, but it worked just fine).
Step 4: Testing Vegan Thickeners
I decided to run a thickener experiment before making the whole pie. I had three candidates, egg replacer, Jel and arrowroot.
These all actually worked really well. There were some slight differences described below.
This was my choice in the end. Arrowroot created the texture closest to a traditional pumpkin pie and had no discernible aftertaste or other negative effects. It's more expensive than egg replacer if you buy it with the other prepackaged bottles of spices, but go somewhere that has a bulk spice area, and it is totally cheap. If you like having the specially labeled 'Arrowroot' bottle (which I do) you can also buy the pricey bottle the first time and then just refill it from the bulk section in the future.
'Natural Desserts' Unflavored Jel
Wins 'Most custardy', with a crust around the edges, but not firm enough to remain intact when served. Still yummy and the smoothest choice. It would be better for a pumpkin pudding than pie. This is also the least common, and most expensive option. So it is not recommended, but I thought I'd still mention it as it was part of the process.
I've had some bad egg replacer baking experiences but this was not one of them! The texture was somewhere in between the arrowroot and Jel, so it could hold it's shape when served, but just barely. I think using any more than 2 eggs worth would leave an egg-replacey taste. Not sure how else to describe it, but if you've baked with it, you may know what I mean.
Note: Since I used roasted pumpkin, the water content is more variable than with the canned puree. Next time I make this with canned pumpkin, I'll have to test again to see if I get the same results.
Step 5: Pecan Crust
The crust is super-easy -
- Grind pecans
- Add sugar and whatever butter substitue you choose
- Mix by hand and press into place
Step 6: Bake
Pour filling into crust and bake at 350oC for 50 - 60 minutes...use the trusty toothpick method to test.