Pi Day

You all know March 14 is Pi day, right? 3/14 (to the part of the world that is crazy and writes dates backwards like that), similar to 3.14, the rounded-off value of Pi. Geeks celebrate by eating pies!

I was busy during the day, and didn’t get around to posting a picture of the pie I made on time yesterday, but here it is. Sorry about the lousy picture, but I was in a hurry to snap a picture before Mme. Minty started devouring it!

pie

I veganized this recipe I found online, and it was delicious… Chocolate Almond Strawberry Linzertorte. It is a variation on the classic german tart made with an almond-based crust and jam filling. The crust is closer to a cookie than pastry, and it has a dense, rich flavour.

I hope you all had a great 3/14/15 🙂

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Seasonally Appropriate Pumpkin Pie

This time of year, everyone starts craving pumpkin. I’ll leave pumpkin-spiked coffee for other people to rhapsodize over; I’d rather focus on pumpkin baked goods! Since Canadian Thanksgiving is two and a half weeks away, I’m trying to post a recipe with enough time in advance so that you can actually make it (Unlike Valentine’s Day and St Patrick’s Day in the past). This recipe sets like a charm – no runny filling or dry, tofu flavour. I promise that the spicy pumpkin flavour really shines in this recipe! If you plan on making this for a mixed crowd, don’t even bother telling anyone that it’s vegan, as they will never know.

Sugar-covered pumpkin pie

A few notes about substitutions:

The good news is that this can be enjoyed by people with dietary sensitivities, too – if you want it gluten-free, just use certified gluten-free cornstarch and a gluten-free or nut-based pie crust.

Over the past years, I have used almost every iteration of dairy-free milk possible, and everything works except the extremely low-fat milks. If you are using potato or rice milk, sub in a few tablespoons of coconut milk for the total “milk” volume. Or, in desperation, sub in one and a half tablespoons of neutral-flavoured oil (I have done this and it works).

Any tofu labelled “soft” will work – unsweetened, dessert tofu, or Mori-nu vacuum packed. I have not tried using traditional asian tofu or medium tofu, so I can’t vouch for the success of that substitution.

If you have a favourite combination of spices from a family recipe, go ahead and use them here instead of the ones I have recommended.

Pumkpin pie slice

Vegan Pumpkin Pie – An original recipe by Agent Minty

  • 1 prepared pie crust
  • 2 cups canned, cooked pumpkin (non seasoned), divided
  • 6.5 Tbsp (1/3 of a 300g/10oz package) of soft tofu… do not press beforehand!
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 Tbsp dairy-free milk
  • 3/4 cup lightly packed brown sugar
  • 3 Tbsp arrowroot OR corn starch
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. Pre-bake crust: Roll out pie crust and fit into pan. Prick all over with a fork. Cover with tin foil and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 10 minutes until crust is barely golden. Remove tin foil and allow to cool while finishing the filling.
  3. Readjust oven temperature to 350F
  4. Combine 1/2 cup pumpkin with the tofu in a food processor. Blend for at least 5 minutes, until the mixture is a smooth, creamy orange with no flecks of tofu. You may need to scrape down the bowl halfway through.
  5. Add the remaining pumpkin and process another minute.
  6. Add the remaining ingredients and process 2-5 minutes if smooth, scraping down the bowl if necessary.
  7. Pour into the pre-baked pie crust and smooth with the back of a spatula.
  8. Cover the entire pie with a loose sheet of tinfoil. This prevents the crust from burning or the top of the filling from getting leathery.
  9. Bake at 350F for one hour.
  10. Remove the tinfoil and increase oven temperature to 385F.
  11. Optional but nice step: brush the exposed crust with dairy-free milk and sprinkle with coarse sugar.
  12. Bake another 15-30 minutes until the cruse is lightly browned.
  13. Allow to cool for at least one hour.
  14. Serve with Coconut Whipped Cream if desired, or decorate with powdered sugar.

Friendship Pie

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):

Ingredients:

– 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

Directions:

  1. Mix all dry ingredients together.
  2. Cut the margarine into the dry ingredients with a pastry cutter until the mixture resembles fine cumbs.
  3. Combine all wet ingredients in a mixing cup and add to the dry ingredients.
  4. Mix with a wooden spoon or electric mixer until well combined.
  5. Gather all crumbs into a ball, divide into two halves.
  6. Flatten each half into a patty the side of your hand and wrap in plastic.
  7. Chill in the fridge overnight.
  8. The next day, preheat the oven to 350F.
  9. Dust the counter and rolling pin with rice flour, and roll out each half to approximately 1/8-inch thick.
  10. Cut out crackers in your desired size and shape.
  11. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  12. Bake for approximately 15 minutes, until they appear a toasty brown colour.

Graham Crumb Crust (from Veganomicon):

Ingredients:

– 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

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  2. Pulse enough graham crackers in a food processor to make 1 3/4 cups.
  3. Add the sugar and coconut to the crumbs in a microwaveable bowl.
  4. Add the margarine on top of the dry ingredients.
  5. Microwave until the margarine is almost completely melted.
  6. Stir until all four ingredients are well combined.
  7. Add enough soymilk that the crumbs are moist and hold together when squeezed.
  8. Press the crumbs thickly into a 9″ pie plate.
  9. Bake until the crust is slightly firm when touched, but the coconut is not too dark.
  10. Cool on a rack while preparing the filling.

Chocolate ganache filling (Adapted from Josee di Stasio’s coconut ginger truffle recipe in Chatelaine):

Ingredients:

– 2/3 cup High-quality coconut milk (gold can, but room-temperature and SHAKEN before opening)

– 200g Dark chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Heat the coconut milk in a heavy-bottomed saucepan, on medium heat.
  2. Once the milk is simmering, remove from the heat.
  3. Pour the hot milk over the chocolate chips in a heat-proof bowl.
  4. Stir with a spatula until the ganache is a shiny, dark brown.
  5. 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):

Ingredients:

– 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

Directions:

  1. Combine the soymilk powder with approximately 2 tablespoons of coconut milk in a saucepan, off the stove.
  2. 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.
  3. Add the vanilla and stir.
  4. Turn the heat under the saucepan to medium-low.
  5. Add the icing sugar and stir until well combined.
  6. Heat the paste for a few minutes until you have a smooth mixture that is slightly warm.
  7. Add half of the remaining coconut milk.
  8. Once the mixture starts to simmer, remove the mixture from the heat and add the cocoa butter.
  9. Allow the cocoa butter to melt and stir rapidly to disperse the fat into the mixture.
  10. Add the remainder of the coconut milk and stir to get a creamy emulsion.
  11. Pour into a mixing bowl and chill for at least an hour.
  12. Whip the mixture with the whisk attachment of a stand mixture until the topping is the texture of soft whipped cream.
  13. Pour gently into a piping bag fitted with a large decorative tip.
  14. 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.

A sweetheart of a tart

OK so it’s only 10 days late, but here’s what I made for Valentine’s day:

Love and Pie

Heart-shaped apple galettes!

I followed This Recipe, but substituted homemade rhubarb jam for the apricot preserves. I didn’t really measure the brown sugar and spices, I just sprinkled them on top of each galette until they looked yummy.

The galettes brushed with jam and waiting for apples

Annick loved them, and love me even more when she found out I made six, not just two. We ate them warm out of the oven, which was delicious! In the picture above I have a fork with them, but we ended up using our hands and eating them like giant cookies.

A rousing success and a definite do-again!

PIE PIE PIE

Annick and I were reading a brief article on the history of pie (it was rather boring, so I won’t refer you to it), and she wanted to know whether I would make her one.

Since I don’t have the cream “cheese” or tofu required for a peanut butter pie (I’ve always wanted to make one, but still haven’t), I made a canned and frozen fruit pie. It’s winter in Alberta, so the only pie-able, semi-local fresh fruits are firm apples, and I didn’t have more than one (soft) apple in my fridge.

Instead, I used what produce I froze and canned this summer. Below, is my peach-cherry-strawberry-cranberry pie:

PIE

If I were an American, I would make up some snappy patriotic name for this pie.

Ingredients:

1 single, unbaked 9″ pie crust, plus extra rolled out for the top – my recipe will be posted soon

2 cups of canned peaches (fruit only)

1.5 cups of pitted, canned sweet cherries

1 cup frozen strawberries

1/3 cup frozen cranberries (fresh work, as well)

1/2 teaspoon allspice

1/4 teaspoon ginger

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

Approximately 2 teaspoons margarine or butter

1 teaspoon ground almonds (optional)

Instructions:

1.Set your over to 400 F

2. Line the pie pan with the bottom crust and place it in the fridge.

3. Roll out the top crust. Leave it in its waxed paper and place in the fridge.

4. Drain the canned fruit. Reserve at least 1/4 cup. I’d recommend draining the syrup into a glass, then you can drink it later with soda!

5. Combine the fruit, spices, and flour in a bowl and stir.

6. Pour the fruit into the lines pie pan.

7. distribute small (1/4 teaspoon) blobs of “butter” all over the fruit.

8. Sprinkle the nuts on top.

9. From your top crust, cut out stars or another shape with cookie cutters, and arrange the cutouts to cover most of the fruit on top of the pie.

10. Brush the crust and cutouts with the reserved juices. using your fingers or a pastry brush, spread a thin layer of “butter” over top – this doesn’t have to be perfect!

11. Bake at 400 F for about 20 minutes, until the crust is starting to get golden. If you use a clear glass pie plate, check sooner.

12. Turn the heat down to 350 F and bake 25-40 minutes longer. The pie will be done when the juices are boiling.

13. Allow the pie to cool and solidify for at least 20 minutes before slicing.

TIP FOR SUCCESS:

– If you bake the pie in a toaster oven, use strips of tinfoil to cover any areas of crust that are browning quickly. I have found that whiel toastert ovens are great for cooking pies, and doing so qucikly, I can easily burn my crust in them.