I don't cook or bake a ton of things but I have a handful of favorites that I have made over and over again to hone and perfect them using different recipes until I get them exactly right. (That actually says a lot about my personality -- I'm all about focus.) Anyway, I consider my pumpkin pie recipe as the best of these.
Pumpkin pie is one of the great flavors of fall. I've always been a big fan. However, there's a lot of mediocre pumpkin pie that's so bland that people end up slathering it with big mounds of whip cream to make it worth eating for dessert. On the other hand, I'd had a few pumpkin pies that were so good that they didn't need any whipped cream or ice cream or anything on top. They were perfect, as is. That's the kind of pumpkin pie I wanted to make.
It took me several years of mashing up different recipes and trial-and-error, but I eventually came up with the core recipe that I still use today. Over the years, I've also added a few twists and extras that help enhance it. In the last few years, I also had to do some more trial-and-error when we found out that my daughter was seriously allergic to egg and not long after I moved to a strictly vegan diet (one of the best things I've ever done for my health and productivity). The result was one killer pumpkin pie recipe, and one that is relatively healthy for a dessert.
- 1 nine-inch pie crust (I recommend Marie Callendar's Deep Dish)
- 1 can (15 ounces) of organic pumpkin puree
- 12 ounces of silken tofu or 1 can (13.5 oz) of coconut milk (replaces evaporated milk)
- 2 tbsp ground flax seed mixed with 6 tbsp water (this replaces 2 eggs)
- 1 tablespoon of whole wheat flour
- 3/4 cup of packed brown sugar
- 1 tbsp of molasses
- 1 tsp of vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp of lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp of salt
- 1 heaping tsp of cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp cloves
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp ginger
Take pie crust out of the freezer to thaw. Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees F. Put ground flax (or, better yet, ground raw flax seeds in a coffee grinder) and water in a small cup and mix or whisk it together. Put the mixture into a bowl with brown sugar, molasses, spices, flour, salt, lemon juice, and vanilla and mix until completely smooth.
Stir in the pumpkin. Then, stir in the silken tofu (or coconut milk). If you use silken tofu, I'd recommend using an electric hand mixer to stir it in so that it gets nice and smooth. Pour into pie shell and place pie shell on a cookie sheet or pie plate and put it in the oven.
Bake at 425 degrees F for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake for 40 minutes, or until you can insert a toothpick and it comes out cleanly. Extra tip: Lightly cover the edges of the crust in aluminum foil in order to keep the edges from over-cooking.
I typically cut it into 8 slices, and each slice is approximately 300-350 calories, and equals a serving of vegetables and about 4 grams of protein.
Kick it up a notch...
By itself, this pie is really good and no one is going to notice that it's vegan since the consistency is normal and the flavors are just a powerful taste of autumn. However, if you want to kick it another notch, here are two ways to do it. The first one is more about the visual presentation and the second one is about giving another unique twist on the taste of standard pumpkin pie.
Buy a box of rolled pie crust (I get Pillsbury because the quality is good and it's vegan). Get a set of decorative pie crust cutters (I got some from William Sonoma because they had a leaf pattern). Lightly roll the dough so that it's flat and even. Sprinkle a little flour on top and spread it around. Cut out about 30 leaves. Lightly brush melted vegan butter (e.g. Earth Balance) on the leaves. Arrange the leaves in an overlapping pattern around the perimeter of the crust. For added effect, arrange four of them in a pattern in the middle.
Stir 1.5 cups of ground vegan gingersnap cookies (I recommend Mi-Del) and 5 tbsp melted vegan butter (Earth Balance) until well combined. Press mixture into and up the sides of a nine-inch pie dish. Bake about 7 minutes at 350 degrees until golden. Cool for 10-15 minutes. Use in place of traditional pumpkin pie crust.