Monday, November 19, 2012

Incredibly Fancy Vegan Pumpkin-Sweet Potato Pecan Streusel Pie

This is for when a regular pumpkin pie won’t do. I’ve had people who hate pumpkin take a look at this pie and say, “Boy I wish I liked pumpkin pie, because that looks so good.” I won’t say that it will convert the haters—the pumpkin is not at all hidden here, if anything it’s emphasized. But I will say that the pumpkin and pecan both enhance each other: the candied pecans jazz up the pumpkin (which is sometimes bland) and the pumpkin tones down the somewhat sickly-sweetness that standard pecan pies are a bit prone to.

Pumpkin-Sweet Potato Pecan Streusel Pie
Pumpkin-Sweet Potato Pecan Pie

2 1/3 cups pumpkin puree (most of a 30 oz can)
1 cup peeled, diced and cooked sweet potato
1 12 oz package firm silken tofu
1 ¼ cup sugar or sweetener
2 ½ Tbsp cornstarch
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
½ tsp nutmeg
½ tsp cardamom
dash allspice
1 tsp vanilla
½ tsp coconut extract
¼ tsp salt

1 cup chopped pecans, plus 8 halves for garnish
2 Tbsp maple syrup (or sugar-free pancake syrup)
½ tsp cinnamon
dash salt

¾ cup whole wheat pastry flour
¼ cup ground pecans
1 tsp cinnamon
dash salt
¼ cup oil
½ vanilla
1-2 tbsp water
2 tbsp quick oats

1 pie crust (graham cracker or ginger snap crust works great)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Puree all the filling ingredients—you will need to do it in batches. Pour into crust and bake for 30 minutes.

Pumpkin-tofu filling

Meanwhile, stir together chopped pecans with syrup, cinnamon and salt. Make the streusel by whisking together flour, ground pecans, cinnamon, and salt. Drizzle in oil, vanilla, and water while tossing with fork until it looks like crumbly wet sand. Stir in oats.

After 30 minutes, pull out the pie. It should be somewhat firm and a little browned on top. Sprinkle the chopped maple pecans over the top, leaving a 1½-inch ring bare around the edge. Sprinkle the streusel over the ring around the edge of the pie. It’s fine if the streusel overlaps the pecans a little. Take the whole pecans, swirl them around in the residue of the chopped maple pecan bowl to coat them slightly. Arrange the whole pecans in a pretty pattern on the top of the pie. Bake for another 20-25 minutes.

Putting the pecan topping on (before the streusel is added)

Let cool at least a few hours before attempting to cut. Will store well for a couple days.

Variations:  You can of course leave off the pecan and streusel toppings for a plain pumpkin pie.

You could also make either a straight pumpkin or sweet potato pie instead of combining them. A butternut squash pie would be nice too.

Other nuts such as walnuts, hazelnuts or almonds could be used in place of the pecans.

Note: To cook a fresh pumpkin or squash for a pie:  cut it in half, scoop out the seeds and strings, and bake it cut side down for 45 –60 minutes at 350 degrees F, until it is easily pierced by a fork. Then just scoop the flesh out of the skin and run it through the blender. It may be a little bit runnier than the canned puree. You can compensate for this by adding an extra tablespoon or two of cornstarch or by reducing it—simmering the puree on the stovetop until it is thickened and concentrated.

By the way, not all pumpkins are equally suited to pie making. Small pumpkins often have better flavor than giant ones, which are watery. Some kinds are specially bred for sweetness and flavor, such as Sugar Pie Pumpkins. Others are bred for looks and size and are quite bland.  At the farmers market you can ask the vendor if a particular type is good for pies. You could also research particular varieties—there are a number of heirloom varieties that have their proponents.  Taste is subjective, though, so you might not agree with others’ opinions. It’s probably best to experiment for yourself.

1 comment:

  1. This is heavenly. I'm not a super pumpkin pie fan, but this is divine!!!