My friends are great. They are there to call when I need a second opinion about something, or to cheer me up when I’m feeling lonely.
They are beautiful and talented in diverse ways, and I’m lucky to have them in my life. The nice thing is that they will introduce me to new friends, and so the circle grows even bigger over time.
Last night I went to a dinner party at Ali’s house. Between the six of us there, the meal needed to be gluten- and nut-free, and vegan. I volunteered to make dessert because I like a challenge! I learned a lot while making this pie, and because of it’s accommodating nature for the sensitivities of my friends, I’m calling it Friendship Pie.
While looking around for Nanaimo bar ideas a few weeks ago, I found the Daring Bakers challenge hosted by Lauren of Celiac Teen. I realized that the gluten-free graham crackers would make an excellent base for a crumb-crust pie.
The recipe called for rice, tapioca, and sorghum flours. The bulk store I shop at doesn’t carry sorghum flour, so I used coconut flour instead. Apparently it’s just powdered dried coconut meat! Consequently, while I was mixing up the dough, the kitchen had the wonderful aroma of coconut. I had to veganize it, and adapt it for what I had available in my kitchen.
This was my first time baking gluten-free, and I found the texture of the dough to be unusual – almost crunchy (I am an incorrigible cookie dough eater). They also took about half of the time Lauren recommended for baking.
The recipe made approximately 2 and a half dozen crackers; enough for Annick and I to snack on for two days, plus enough for a thick pie crust and some to give to my friend.
I used the recipe from Veganomicon for the pie crust, which uses yet more coconut! I didn’t bake it for as long as recommended, because I wanted a crust that wasn’t too crumbly. My graham crackers were also well-done, so I didn’t want the crust to taste burnt.
The ganache filling of the pie is a result of a happy accident. In December I tried to make ginger truffles, but the ganache never set firmly enough. As a result, I had a creamy ganache to use as a filling for my Christmas bûche, and I use the same chocolate-coconut milk proportions for an easy, rich filling.
For the final fancy garnish on the cake, I wanted to make white chocolate mousse.
My last attempt at making white chocolate was unsuccessful, but I had a PLAN this time! I made paste with a small volume of coconut milk and the soymilk powder, stirring and pressing with a spatula until all of the lumps were dissolved. To this I added the vanilla and powdered sugar, again making sure that the sugar was dissolved before proceeding.
I then added more coconut milk, because I wanted this to be a whippable custard (?), not a solid chocolate. Next I added the cocoa butter and stirred it until I got an emulsion, then added MORE coconut milk. I let this chill in the fridge so that it would be easier to whip, and meanwhile relaxed.
Once the mixture was the consistency of thin yogurt, I whipped it as much as I could. It didn’t whip as well as coconut cream, but it did get airier. I filled up a tube with it, and piped it onto the pie.
Result: One tasty pie, and several “oh my god this is so good!” comments.
Friendship Pie, dedicated to all my friends, old and new!
Recipe: Friendship Pie
Graham Crackers (Adapted from Celiac Teen):
– 1 cup Sweet rice flour
– 3/4 cup Tapioca Starch/Flour
– 1/2 cup Coconut Flour
– 1 cup Brown Sugar, Lightly packed
– 1 teaspoon Baking soda
– 3/4 teaspoon Salt
– 7 tablespoons Margarine (I just used the normal soft kind)
– 1/3 cup Honey, or half honey and half corn syrup
– 5 tablespoons Soymilk
– 2 tablespoons Vanilla Extract
- Mix all dry ingredients together.
- Cut the margarine into the dry ingredients with a pastry cutter until the mixture resembles fine cumbs.
- Combine all wet ingredients in a mixing cup and add to the dry ingredients.
- Mix with a wooden spoon or electric mixer until well combined.
- Gather all crumbs into a ball, divide into two halves.
- Flatten each half into a patty the side of your hand and wrap in plastic.
- Chill in the fridge overnight.
- The next day, preheat the oven to 350F.
- Dust the counter and rolling pin with rice flour, and roll out each half to approximately 1/8-inch thick.
- Cut out crackers in your desired size and shape.
- Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet.
- Bake for approximately 15 minutes, until they appear a toasty brown colour.
Graham Crumb Crust (from Veganomicon):
– 1 3/4 cups Ground graham cracker crumbs
– 1/2 cup Unsweetened shredded coconut
– 2 tablespoons Sugar
– 3 tablespoons Margarine (again, the soft kind is OK)
– 3-5 tablespoons Soymilk
- Preheat the oven to 350F.
- Pulse enough graham crackers in a food processor to make 1 3/4 cups.
- Add the sugar and coconut to the crumbs in a microwaveable bowl.
- Add the margarine on top of the dry ingredients.
- Microwave until the margarine is almost completely melted.
- Stir until all four ingredients are well combined.
- Add enough soymilk that the crumbs are moist and hold together when squeezed.
- Press the crumbs thickly into a 9″ pie plate.
- Bake until the crust is slightly firm when touched, but the coconut is not too dark.
- Cool on a rack while preparing the filling.
Chocolate ganache filling (Adapted from Josee di Stasio’s coconut ginger truffle recipe in Chatelaine):
– 2/3 cup High-quality coconut milk (gold can, but room-temperature and SHAKEN before opening)
– 200g Dark chocolate chips
- Heat the coconut milk in a heavy-bottomed saucepan, on medium heat.
- Once the milk is simmering, remove from the heat.
- Pour the hot milk over the chocolate chips in a heat-proof bowl.
- Stir with a spatula until the ganache is a shiny, dark brown.
- Pour into a prepared pie crust, or refrigerate for other uses (this is delicious for dipping fruit, or filling a cake).
White chocolate whipped topping (original by Agent Minty):
– 1 teaspoon Soymilk powder
– 1/2 cup, divided, High-quality coconut milk (gold can, but room-temperature and SHAKEN before opening)
– 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
– 1.5 tablespoons Icing (powdered) sugar
– 50g Solid food-grade cocoa butter
- Combine the soymilk powder with approximately 2 tablespoons of coconut milk in a saucepan, off the stove.
- Do NOT proceed until all powder is incorporated! A spatula works well for this – I have to press the clumps against the side of the pot to break them up.
- Add the vanilla and stir.
- Turn the heat under the saucepan to medium-low.
- Add the icing sugar and stir until well combined.
- Heat the paste for a few minutes until you have a smooth mixture that is slightly warm.
- Add half of the remaining coconut milk.
- Once the mixture starts to simmer, remove the mixture from the heat and add the cocoa butter.
- Allow the cocoa butter to melt and stir rapidly to disperse the fat into the mixture.
- Add the remainder of the coconut milk and stir to get a creamy emulsion.
- Pour into a mixing bowl and chill for at least an hour.
- Whip the mixture with the whisk attachment of a stand mixture until the topping is the texture of soft whipped cream.
- Pour gently into a piping bag fitted with a large decorative tip.
- Pipe rosettes onto the pie or whatever else you wish to garnish. Idea: pipe into parfait glasses, chill, and serve with fruit as a light dessert.