Blog

Category

Currently showing posts tagged Holiday

  • Meyer Lemon, Fresh Cranberry & Walnut Scones

    The holidays are here! FTW? How did this happen so quickly? It seems like only yesterday, I was arriving in California to start my adventure in chocolate. Time flies. 2017 has flew by. So many ups and downs and in betweens! My most recent notable experience was a close interation with the Oakland Police Department, since my car got jacked (i.e. stolen). In the end, it was a pretty amazing experience, and I now know that generous and kind people are all around-yes, even in Oakland! It is not that as I doubted that, but, perhaps it just really struck a chord with me since this was my first "oh shit..." experience since moving from Wisconsin (long story short: my car was stolen, and some awesome people called it in when it rolled up to their house). 

    Speaking of in-betweens, I have always wondered the difference between a scone and a biscuit (yup, just went from car theft to baking-see how I did that?). I am certian that if I were brought up in the south, or accross the pond, I would have a more firm stance on this. But I don't, seeing that I am a Wisconsin girl, through and through.But what I DO know is that fresh and tart cranberries (preferrably from WI!), creamy butter (Clover has been my go-to since moving to CA), crunchy walnuts (from CA!) and sweet meyer lemon zest (duh, from CA!) are bound to get along in what I think is a scone. According to the internets, scones are sweeter, have a tighter crumb, and may or may not contain egg. And I guess that biscuits are not to have little bits of nuts, dried fruit, fresh fruit, or really anything "chunky". The more ya know...Carry on, I say! (or, Forward! The motto of my motherland). The base of these is a little different from my rhubarb and buckwheat scones, with the inclusion of eggs, and the fact that this recipe yields roughly twice as many scones. The eggs add more adhesion to the dough, and give the crumb a more delicate texture (i.e. they are less crumbly/rubbly than scones sans-eggs) with more of a lift. I initially was going to omit the eggs, but stumbled on this useful page from King Arthur. But never fear, if you wish to omit the eggs, you can follow the template for the rhubarb and buckwheat scones and sub-in whichever flours you would like, with other add-ins like fresh cranberries and walnuts (but note, I have not specifically tested other combinations...let me know if you do in the comments!).Side note: for you vegans out there, I see that Dana has provided a wonderful vegan scone recipe that is quite close to the King Arthur template, but utilizes luxurious virgin coconut oil and nutritious flax egg! 

    These scones are...festive...speckled with all those dark tart red cranberries, studded with toasted walnuts, and so amazingly fragrant with meyer lemon zest, which is encouraged to release all of the essential oil power by rubbing the sugar with the zest. I encourage you to not skip brushing these with cream/milk, and sprinkling with crunchy demerara sugar; the sweet crust that forms on top is such a perfect compliment to the tart, zingy cranberries.And one last note (becuase as you all notice, I am all about the notes, especially ones that allow flexibility in our lives): one of amazing thing about scones is that you can make them ahead of time, freeze them, and bake them off fresh when you wish straight from the freezer. So...really...this makes an ideal holiday morning treat. Or afternoon tea-time treat. Or coffee snack. Whatever. They are especially delicious drizzled generously with honey (to counter those tart, beautiful cranberries), still warm from the oven. Go full authentic and eat with clotted cream (or maybe some greek yogurt?). Best the day they are baked, but revived with a quick heat in the oven the next day, I hope you enjoy these and have an amazing holiday season!



    Meyer Lemon, Fresh Cranberry & Walnut Scones // Makes 8 very large scones or 16 small scones or quite possibly 12 mediums scones // 

    • 1 ½ cups (140 g) fresh cranberries (or frozen), either chopped by hand or in a food processor into medium sized pieces
    • 1 1/2 cups toasted walnuts, crushed into small-ish pieces
    • 1/4 cup sugar
    • zest of 2 meyer lemons (or substitute 1 regular lemon and 1 orange)
    • 1 3/4 cup all purpose flour (210g)
    • 1 cup finely milled whole wheat flour flour (113g)
    • 1 TB baking powder (12g)
    • 3/4 tsp sea salt (3g)
    • Freshly grated nutmeg
    • 1 stick (8 TB) butter, cut into small-ish chunks, very cold (straight from fridge)
    • 1/2 cup plant-based milk or cream/moo milk, plus 1 TB for brushing tops
    • 2 eggs

    To Finish:

    • 4 tsp demerara sugar, or coconut sugar, for sprinkling on top of scones
    1. Measure the sugar in large bowl, and zest citrus on top of sugar. Rub the sugar and zest together until fragrant and incorporated.

    2. Sift flour, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg over the lemon zest sugar in the large bowl. Mix everything together thoroughly with a fork. 

    3. Cut butter in using pastry cutter or the fork, or, use your fingers. Butter chunks should be about the size of peas and dimes, with some a little larger and a little smaller. Using your hands at the very end to rub the butter between your fingers and thumbs to create sheets of butter to form flatter pieces of butter that will create layers and lift when baked. Work quickly to not melt the butter with the heat of your hands. 

    4. Stir in the almond milk/egg mixture, mix for a few stirs, then add the cranberries and walnuts. With a spatula, mix briefly, but confidently, until mostly no dry patches remain (but a rough, shaggy texture with dry-ish spots here and there is perfect!). Turn out onto a lightly floured board, gather the dough, divide in roughly have and stack the pieces, repeating this once more for optimum layering of butter for flakiness. Divide in half, and form each half into a 6” diameter disc that is 1.5” thick. 

    5. Cut each half into 4 triangles for huge scones, or 8 triangles for smaller scones, or even 6 triangles for medium-ish scones (if cutting the discs into 8 each, they will be small-but don't worry, they rise and puff), and place on a lined sheet tray. Freeze for 30-45 minutes (or, freeze all the way, wrap individually once firm, place in a bag or container and bake off as directed when desired).

    6. Preheat oven to 425F. When heated, take scones from freezer, brush with cream or milk, and sprinkle each with ½ tsp (or a generous pinch!) of demerara sugar.

    7. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden and fragrant. Frozen scones may need a minute or two more. Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes, then enjoy! These are best fresh, but baked scones can be freshed in a hot oven (350F) for a fe minutes. Cheers!



    Fragrant meyer lemon zest is rubbed into sugar...the best type of aroma therapy in the kitchen! Chopped cranberries (either fresh or frozen work here, I used frozen, and chopped them in the food processor). The color is so damn festive!Walnuts, a natural pair with cranberry!Alright. You've measured/weighted and sifted, now to cut in the butter. Using your fingers, working quickly, is encouraged. Flat, larger pieces will produce puffy, layered scones. Then, we confidently and quickly stir in the milk and egg mixture. The key phrase for scones: hot shaggy mess. Literally. This will look like a goddamn nightmare, but never fear: the shaggier, the more "undermixed", the lighter the scone. Seriously. You cannot go wrong. In goes the rubble of cranberry and walnuts! A quick stir and fold of sorts with a spatula to get it all in there...still a shaggy hot mess...you're doing great...you just gotta trust your inner baker here. Alright. The scone batter gets a quick pat down. Sliced. You got it...if you're feeling greedy, cut into larger triangles. If you're feeling more petite.......then cut each disc into 8 triangles. I guess you try cutting each disc into 6, and settle in the middle...whatever you want!The chunks! The butter! The love! Ahh. You nailed it!Get these ruby-speckled babies into the freezer. Clean up your mess. Make a coffee. Maybe just admire one more time how just kinda cute these little dudes are...Love it. Ok, carry on. Get your oven preheated. Brush with milk or cream. Sprinkle with demerara sugar. Bake bake bake...coffee coffee coffee....(or tea? I dunno..whatever you want!)...Just enjoy! Share, repeat. Happiest baking to you all!

  • Korokova + Holiday Cookie Round-Up + Oh Hey!

    Oh hey. Hi. How's it going?

    I have missed this space. Like, literally: I have clearly missed the mark on blogging regularly the last 5 or so months. Let's just skip to the chase and get down to it...life is never dull. I have ripped up my Wisconsin roots, and have been transplanted to California. I envisioned this, dreamt about being here closer to my sister, and perhaps even romanticized it. But the truth is, I miss home and feel out of sorts. I think that has been the theme for 2017 for me, but, I have certainly learned about myself and this world we live in. And also about how much I love a cup of coffee with frothy almond/coconut/soy milk (this is the BEST frother EVER...also, a just-because gift from my boo in the form of a milk frother is pretty amazing). I miss a lot of "things" from home, but this feeling of newness is not...new? In between moving 6 times and three different jobs over the last year, I feel that a perspective shift is in order to go along with my physical shifts.I have been meditating on the daily. I have been surrounding myself with people that I love, both physically and virtually (Jess Lively podcasts are amazing for life flow advice, Mimi Ikkon inspires me to take care of myself, and my favorite blogs have been picking up my less-than-creative feet the last few months; I even had the opportunity to meet Deb at a book signing here in Berkeley-so cool! We had a breif chat about caramel...I am sure I blushed a lot, and didn't get a coherent sentance out, but still!) 

    It is time to turn things around (damnit!), and I hope that energy of perserverance, love, courage, warmth and generosity fills your holiday season. Also, I hope cookies do too. Whether you are avoiding the gluten, not diggin' the dairy, or just love ALL OF THE BUTTAAAAH and traditional things (ahem, me lately-traditions and simplicity bring comfort in turbulent times!), I present to you my 2017 holiday cookie round-up. Cookies that a) I love to make and eat and share or b) look, smell and taste pretty darn amazing, and will likely grace my holiday baking line-up this year. But really, this cookie became one of my  favorites in grad school, when one of the amazing undergrads, who is a spectacular baker and up-and-coming food scientist with an amazing blog to boot, brought these in to the lab one day (I think) in July when I was knee-deep in grad-skool-stressful-things (research, 3rd degree burns from caramel, Karl Fischer titrations, etc), and found deep enjoyment in nomming the shit out of a few of these cookies for a break with coffee. The korokova is sure to please you and your loved ones and your co-workers and anyone really. The korokova cookie is a classic shortbread, enriched with brown sugar, intensified wtih cocoa powder, and made just *that* much more indulgent by flakes of chopped dark (dark! I mean it! like at least 70% cocoa solids, and chopped-not chips or chunks!) chocolate. Punctuated by a flakey sea salt top, these are just...magical! As Dorie mentions in the recipe here on Food52, these cookies are fairly forgiving as they are delicious (see note below for my only pieces of advice, namely avoiding over baking and volume measuring of flour and cocoa...and then, for the last time, go and get yourself a scale for baking!! I own this one and love it, and my sister has this one and it is also a fine piece of kitchen equipment).Perfect for a host/hostess gift, a care package to be shipped accross the country (they are surprisingly sturdy), for nibbling on with your early morning cup of chilly weekday/weekend coffee/coffee after lunch at work when you're evading reviewing labels/etc, etc. Rich, sweet, salty and full of chocolate. Seriously, happy holiday baking, friends. Find some of my favorite, tried-and-true cookies below that I love to have around for the holidays, along with a few of my tips for holiday cookie bliss!Notes: to help prevent the dreaded overbake with the korokova, you want to take the cookies out even if you *think* you are pulling them out of the oven too soon-they will still appear to be moist and will be very soft fresh out of the oven, so be sure to let these guys sit a few minutes to cool and to finish their bake on the hot sheet pan. Your patience and fearless confidence with these cookies will be rewarded with a dense, yet delicate, cookie. And when in doubt, if they are still a little too soft after cooling a few minutes on the pan, just put them back into the hot oven for 1-2 minutes to help finish the bake. My last note is to urge you to use a scale for weight measurements for these cookies (I own this one, and my sister has this one, and both work very well for baking as well as coffee making!), especially with the dry ingredients. If you *must* use volume, be sure to fluff your flour and cocoa powder before scooping into your measure cup, and level off the top without compacting. Dorie has similar notes in her Food52 recipe here! Also, I urge you to sift the dry ingredients, especially the cocoa powder, as lumpy cocoa powder can be game-over for these cookies. Last note, to help life be easeful, which is really welcome around the busy holidays for many of you: you can pre-make these cookies, roll into the logs, wrap in plastic wrap and freeze or throw in the fridge until you're ready to slice and bake. The dough will last in the fridge for a few days, and in the freezer for a few months. In fact, I think these guys are actually easier to slice when cold and firm; if baking from the freezer, try to remember to take the logs out to soften a bit, either overnight in the fridge or a hour or so on the counter at room temp. 


    2017 Holiday Cookie Round-Up:

    The Rich and Nutty: These polvorones from the Bojon Gourmet are just sweet enough, full of nuts as polvorones should be, have lovely texture, and are just fun...all coated in powdered sugar...messy cookies are the best! See here for Buckwheat Cacao Nib Polvorones!

    The Traditional: Ok, so these...these are where chocolate chunk cookies bull-doze chcolate chip cookies. These chocolate chunk cookies are *the* best, so of course, just the ticket for the holidays. Life hack: using the Pound Plus bar of dark chocolate from Trader Joe's works very well here (but if you have access and the sheer will to use your "good shit" from your dark chocolate stash, you will not be sorry). Get your ass over here for chocolate chunk cookie bliss!

    The Cozy and Spicy: Now, to tone it down a notch for those vegans in your life. I offer up Angela's recipe for oatmeal cookies. But not just any: these are studded with chocolate, full of nuts, and have pockets of gooey dates (yes, get the good dates for these, please! I love Del Real). A splash of whiskey or bourbon in these guys never hurt anyone, either. 

    *THE* Gingersnap: head over here to get Alice's gingersnap cookie. It is the best. Stop your search now, and just make these, get some coffee on to brew, and then enjoy the gingersnap-coffee due of bliss. Repeat as necessary. 

    The (other) Chocolate One: so, technically, the korkova I am going to share is "a" chocolate one hailing from Mr. Herme himself, but if you are feeling more fudgey-cookie-like, I highly recommend these gooey-chocolatey numbers from the Bojon Gourmet via Cookie & Kate. Pockets of chocolate, bits of crunchy sea salt, barely held together with buckwheat and tapioca flour. Yum. 

    The Crunchy One: do I even have to say it? Biscotti. My recipe here is a formula for success, with lots of room for flexibility. Use your favorite nut, add in your favorite citrus zest, play around with the fat source (olive oil! Coconut oil! Butter!), go traditional and add in brandy and anise seeds (and dunk into espresso). Just get to it! 


    Now, some tips that I find useful for holiday cookie baking (and cookie baking in general):

    -Pre-mix batters and doughs for cut-out/sliced/drop cookies; freeze whole logs (as in the korokova recipe I share below) or cookies already portioned and rolled into balls. You can even pre-coat gingersnaps with demerara sugar when you freeze them (see picture below!), place into a bag, and label with the baking time and temperature. Thaw logs of cookies overnight in the fridge, and bake pre-balled frozen cookies straight from the freezer (you may need to add a minute or two to the baking time, but seriously, this frozen cookie magic works beautifully!). Note: I have also had success with freezing polvorones already rolled in powdered sugar, too, but just beware that like all things involving powdered sugar, it may just get...everywhere...heh...

    -Bake a few batches of biscotti at a time and freeze. They freeze beautifully, and are also quickly "freshened" by a quick trip (5ish minutes) in a 350F oven. 

    -Parchment paper. Do I need to say more? Unless you like to clean sheet pans. I do not.

    -Sea salt. It adds a crunchy, contrasting flavor to many cookies...yes, even on the classics like oatmeal! I love Maldon (also take note of the 3.3lb tub of it...ha!) If you question paying $6-$8 for a box of salt, know that a box lasts for a few months at a time, and pinching the lovely crystals between your fingers and scattering them all over everything will bring you immense joy and pleasure! I promise!

    -Gift bags and boxes. I love to use simple clear cellophane bags (like these), twisted shut with a twist tie (go figure!), and optionally made more "festive" with ribbon. If you're like super-Martha, you could even pre-make bags of baked cookes and store in the freezer.

    -Cookies easily sub for a wonderful gift, host/hostess thank-you, and even a dessert if you're slated to bring "something" to a gathering. Who the hell ever said "no" to a holiday cookie assortment and a bottle of wine? 

    -Cookies have been proven* to boost morale; bring a tray to work, leave it in the break room, and feel goo about the fact that your are spreading that holiday cheer (just be sure to label with gluten, nuts, dairy, etc...because that is just the right thing to do!)

    -Cookies are acceptable for breakfast. Anytime, but especially around the holidays. 

    *just really speculating here, based on qualitative observation, but I think we can at least be 95% confident that this statement is more than likely true.



    Korkova Cookies (aka: World Peace Cookies) // Recipe from Pierre Herme, via Dorie Greenspan // Makes about 30 cookies // 

    • 1 stick plus 3 TB (150g) unsalted butter, room temperature*
    • 1 1/4 cups (175g) all purpose flour 
    • 1/3 cup (30g) natural cocoa powder
    • 1/2 tsp baking soda
    • 1/4 tsp sea salt (or, 1/2 tsp flakey sea salt, like Maldon)
    • 2/3 cup (120g) light brown sugar (pack the cup full if using volume measure)
    • 1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract, bourbon or coffee liquer
    • 5 oz (150g) (which is about 3/4 cup) chopped bittersweet (or darker chocolate as desired), no larger than 1/3" pieces

    *room temperature butter can be acheived by letting your butter sit at room temperature for at least a few hours, ideally overnight; the texture of the butter is fairly critical for this recipe, so don't try that microwave-softening trick...you know it doesn't work, right?

    1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, or a large bowl that will accomodate beating vigorously with a hand mixer, place the room temperature butter and beat for 2 minutes. Scrape down the bowl, and add the sugars, salt and vanilla extract (or bourbon or coffee liquor). Beat again for 2 minutes, at which point the mixture will be fluffy.

    2. Weigh and sift the dry ingredients (flour, cocoa powder, baking soda), pressing out any lumps through the sifter. If you are using volume measurements, be sure to fluff the flour and cocoa with a fork prior to scooping into the measuring cup, and leveling off without compacting, prior to sifting (see notes above).

    3. Gently mix the dry ingredients into the butter and sugar mixture, starting at the lowest speed on your mixer at first to avoid a flour/cocoa explosion, then mix on medium for a count 5 seconds, then stop and scrape down the bowl. Continue to mix until a crumbly dough comes together (it will be crumbly-don't be alarmed), taking care to not over mix (I repeat: crumbles are ok!). Scrape down the bowl again, add the chopped chocolate, and mix breifly until the dough looks consistently moist (but it will still be a bit crumbly).

    4. Using your hands, bring the mixture together into a crumbly but cohesive ball; divide into 2 portions, and roll each into a log that is 1 1/2" diameter (this is about 12" long). Do not stress about perfect logs here, as you can roll into a more even log once the dough is in plastic wrap if you wish. Roll in plastic wrap, taking a few seconds to make the logs more even if desired. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or up to 3 days (or put into the freezer for up to a few months; thaw overnight in fridge before slicing and baking).

    5. Preheat oven to 325F. Taking the logs straight from the fridge, using a sharp non-serrated knife, slice into 1/2" segments. Each log should yield about 15 1/2" rounds. Crumbles will happen, so gently press and encourage the dough back into rounds. Place about 1" apart on baking sheets, optionally lined with parchment or Silpat. Sprinkle the tops with flakey sea salt if desired. Bake for 12 minutes, at which point the cookies will look quite moist, but this is normal; allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet until just warm to the touch, then cool on racks. If after cooled the cookies are underbaked, simply return to the 325F oven for 2 minutes longer, and again allow to cool until just warm to the touch. 

    6. Enjoy fresh, or hoard at room temperature for up to a few days. The baked cookies can also be frozen, and enjoyed straight from there will be firm, crunchy and delightfully chewy. Dunking into hot coffee is encouraged!



    On the sheet, sprinkled with sea salt (I love Maldon), ready to bake. Success is sweet, chocolate-y and sea salt-y. Mmmm.Ready the coffee, tea, gift bags and/or boxes. These guys are amazing to share, savor and delight in. Enjoy!

     

  • Holiday Cookie Line-Up!

    The cold days and dark nights of December, with their shortness and snappiness, encourages me reflect on my year. As with many, the end of the year is a time for peaceful reflection: where we were at the start of a year, where we are now. Goals we accomplished, adventures we went on, and decisions we made. Tears we cried, smiles we smiled. Laughs we laughed with so much life, our eyes started to water.

    Not going to lie, 2016 was one hell of a year for me. A "roller coaster" of a year sums it up quite well. Emotionally hard and taxing, the fear and anxiety of the unknown, the pressure of uncertainty. The internal push to make others happy and comfortable over my own happiness, and inutuition. Really, no pun intended, but it all snow-balled on me this week.

    The "holidays" have not felt as such for me yet. A certain unsettling feeling lingers, and as much as I try to harness this energy and put it towards positive action and creation, I find myself struggling. And I am sure many of you can relate to this feeling!

    But, nonetheless, I have conjured enough Christmas spirit and cheer to put together some treats I hope to share (ok, ok, and treat for me to enjoy with my coffee or tea each day, too!). I have a few more tricks up my sleeve, if I can motivate myself to melt some chocolate, and muster a stable emulsion. I think I can, I think I can.From left to right: gluten-free chai spiced walnut polvorones; ginger snaps; gluten-free walnut, coffee and cacao nib polvorones; orange and hazelnut biscotti (see here for recipe!); gluten-free buckwheat chocolate sea salt cookies (really they are like brownies masquerading as a cookie); and finally, gluten-free spiced cocoa and pecan polvorones.The polvorones were all inspired by The Bojon Gourmet. The spiced cocoa and pecan recipe is here, but the riffs I took on it (chai spiced, coffee-walnut-cacao nib) were taken with liberty by myself. The gingersnaps are made from my favorite recipe, and are from the infamous Alice Medrich (found in her Pure Dessert cookbook, as well as her cookie book). The biscotti recipe was recently posted here, and this time, I left the hazelnuts more intact by hand-chopping and must say I love the results (also, winning for not have to clean the food processor!). I also used Meyer's dark rum in place of bourbon. And finally, the gluten-free buckwheat chocolate sea salt cookies are from the Bojon Gourmet's new book, which I gifted my sister this past October for her birthday. I am storing these all in ziplock bags and containers, in the freezer, to maintain freshness over the next few weeks. And I warn you: a super crispy ginger snap, fresh out of the freezer, dipped in hot coffee, is love at first bite! So with this, likely my last post for 2016, I wish you the best holiday. Happy baking, cooking and candy-making. I hope you listen to your heart, follow your gut, speak to your intuition as much as you know how to right now in the present moment. Be fearless, own up to your shit, and move forward. Follow you dreams, feed your soul. As corny as that sounds, I am really starting to believe in this magic that we all have, sitting in our bodies, waiting to be summoned with courage. 

    Forward. For that is our motto in Wisconsin. Forward! My intention is to march into 2017 with my eyes and heart open, with deep breaths, and with the calm that January brings to us.  

    Peace, love and warm wishes to you all. I hope you find yourself with a hot mug of something a treat in hand many, many times over the holiday season! 

  • Pumpkin Pie: Two Classic Recipes

    As I mentioned earlier in the week, my grandma was a liar. Your grandmother probably is too. Juuust kidding. That was to get your attention!

    Now that I have it, let's talk about pumpkin pie. Traditional pumpkin pie is made with custard: a creamy, dense base of eggs and milk. The proteins from the eggs lend stand-up properties, while the fat and flavors from the milk make the custard sweet and rich. The lecithin (an emulsifier) present in the egg yolks make the filling satin-smooth, save any gritty bits or fibers present from the pumpkin/squash puree. Side note: some people like that sort of texture in their pumpkin pies!So, how do we replicate a custard, plant-based style? We rely on another type of suspension (truly a colloid) or gel: a starch-based gel. Now, this could get complicated...but it is pie, so I won't make it so. Essentially, I am telling you one thing: you will get close to the classic custard texture, but you will not mimic it 100% and fool your grandma. A starch-based gel has very different properties than a protein-based gel.

    But fortunately, our starch-based gel is still delicious. Creamy, smooth, thick, and flavorful. All without dairy or eggs. Topped with your favorite whipped cream, either one of these is sure to satisfy a hankerin' for pumpkin pie. I really hope you try either version...I did a lot of baking, and WE did a a lot of pie eating for you! 

    Our plant-based "custard" secret weapons:

    • Arrowroot Starch: provides the primary gel structure; it forms a semi-ridgid gel, thickens the filling upon heating (starch gelatinization), and provides stand-up properties.
    • Coconut Cream: Provivdes air and lift. Eggs, when mixed into traditional filling, help increase viscosity of the custard, and while mixed, help trap air for slightly lighter filling.
    • Soaked Raw Cashews: lends fat and a nutty "cooked" flavor that cooked/baked milk takes on. Helps shorten the firm starch gel structure, leaving you a beautifully creamy and tender filling. 

    So if I haven't sold you on this "starch based gel pumpkin pie", I really urge you to try it for yourself. As I mentioned, I have tested TWO recipes several times, and have had two (unofficial) taste testers for each. The verdict:

    • Version 1: very tasty, but a firmer, ridgid texture. However, not as firm as traditional pumpkin pie. Spices are strong, to which I suspect is the lower fat content since fat helps dampen the impact of flavors and spices. Great cold and room temperature, but room temperature is softer if you like that texture better.
    • Version 2: again, very tasty; texture is less ridgid, and more "voluptuous" thanks to the addition of both cashews and coconut cream, and slightly less arrowroot. The added fat from the cashews and coconut helps replace some of the stand-up properties of the starch in the finished filling, leaving you with a firmer but more tender "custard". The flavors and spices are warm, not overpowering. The color is more opaque, more like the traditional pumpkin pie. The texutre is still soft and pudding-like at room temperature, but firms once chilled. 

    In sum: both get darn close, with version 2 coming in slightly closer. If you do not like or cannot eat cashews, then version 1 is still an incredibly tasty contender. If you cannot consume coconut, feel free to substitue the 1/4 cup with 1/2 cup of your favorite unsweetened plant-based milk, leaning more towards a  organic soy-based one as it has more fat and protein for a firmer filling. But, almond milk works well, too.

    And now, for the crusts:

    • Traditional Style: cut-in-solid fat type, using virgin coconut oil, was what it always is: tender, flakey, but substantial enough to stay firm, even without a blind-bake. Best when you plan on serving the pie sooner, rather than later, as it gets soggy after a day or so. In addition, it requires a chilling period, as all traditional pastry for crusts do. However, can be made a few days ahead of time and stored in the fridge until you are ready to roll. I love using the crust in fruit-based  pies (exhibit A and B). 
    • Melted Fat & Plant-Based Milk Style: overall a more "rustic" texture, much more crispy, and held up to the moisture in the filling for 2 whole days, making it ideal for serving the next day. In contrast to the traditional style, you can roll out this one immediately, no chilling required or recommended, although it is a bit fragile to handle. 

    So, you pick your ideal filling and crust. MY FAVORITE??? I'd have to go with the traditional crust and filling option #2!!

    Don't forget the whipped cream, coconut or otherwise! Happy Pumpkin Pie'ing! If you do make any of these combinations, I would love to know how it went!! 



    Pumpkin Filling Option 1 // plant-based, vegan, soy-free option, nut-free option // makes 1 9" or 10" pie //

    • 2 1/2 cups pumpkin or squash puree, homemade or canned
    • 1/4 cup coconut cream or 1/2 cup plant-based milk of choice (using a soy-free milk if desired)
    • 1/2 cup organic sugar of choice, like white, brown, coconut or sucanant
    • 3 TB arrowroot starch 
    • 2 tsp molasses 
    • 2 tsp cinnamon
    • 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
    • 1/4 tsp dried ginger, or 1/2" hunk grated fresh
    • small pinch cloves
    • 1/4 tsp sea salt
    • 2 tsp vanilla 
    • 1 TB bourbon (optional, but very tasty)

    Traditional Cut-In-Solid Fat Crust // plant-based, vegan, soy-free option, nut-free // makes enough pastry for TWO 9" or 10" pies //

    • 2 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry, unbleached all-purpose or spelt flour, or any combination thereof
    • 1 tsp sea salt
    • 1 TB sugar 
    • 1/2 tsp cinnamon (optional)
    • 1/2 cup virgin coconut oil OR a 50:50 ratio of virgin coconut oil:Earth Balance (use soy-free Earth Balance if desired)
    • 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar or other vinegar
    • 5-7 TB ice water, or very cold water

    1. Make the pie crust (can be made up to 3 days in advance, or frozen for up to 1 month): Sift the flour, salt, sugar and cinnamon in a large bowl. In small spoofuls, drop the coconut oil over the dry ingredients. Place in the fridge for 10 minutes to firm the fat up again. While waiting, prepare ice water and get vinegar. Once fat has firmed up, cut the fat into the flour using a pastry cutter or fork. You want medium-small pieces, think pea size. Add the water, starting with 5 TB, and all of the vinegar. Cut the water into the dough, adding more by the TB until you can squeeze the pastry togeter into a mass that sticks together but is not sticky/wet. In the bowl, form pastry into a disk, cover with a tea towel and let sit in the fride while you prep the filling. Or, you can wrap the pastry tightly in plastic wrap and place in a storage bag, and chill it for a few days, or even freeze it for up to 1 month.

    3. When you're ready to make the pie, preheat oven to 450F. Make the pie filling: mix the sugar and the arrowroot together with a whisk in a large bowl. This helps prevent the arrowroot from clumping together. Add the remaining ingredients, whisk until smooth, and taste for spices. Adjust as needed. Alternatively, add everything into a blender, and blend until smooth. If you like more texture to your filling, and still want to blend it, simply reserve 1 cup of the pumpkin puree to mix in after you have blended the filling (that is my favorite method)

    4. To roll out the pie pastry, be sure that it is not too firm from chilling in the fridge. If it is, allow it to sit for 10-15 minutes until you can easily roll it out (alternatively, thaw frozen pastry overnight in the fridge, and allow it to sit for 10-15 minutes at room temperature once thawed). Cut the dough disc in half (freeze the other half or use for another pie). Use plenty of flour to help prevent sticking. Pick up and rotate the pastry as you roll it out every few passes of the rolling pie to re-flour if it is sticking. Roll about into a ~12" diameter circle (or large enough to have a 1" overhang on a 9" to 10" pie dish). Fold the pasty into quarters or roll-up on the rolling pin, and place into pie dish, gently coaxing it into place. If a tear happens, simply patch it up or press together again when the pastry is in place. Trim, or patch pastry in place if necessary, around the edges for a 1" overhang. Turn the 1" overhang under, and crimp as desired.

    5. Fill the pie crust with the pumpkin filling. Gently tap the pie on the counter to get rid of any air pockets. Smooth out top with a spatula or spoon. Bake for 15 minutes at 450F, then for 35-40 additional minutes at 350F. If the crust is browning too much, simply shield it with tin foil or parhment. The filling will be firm, but may wiggle just a bit when moved. Cool the pie completely on a cooling rack for a few hours, and then in the fridge for up to overnight, at a minimum for 4 hours. This allows the filling to set completely. Slice and serve with your favorite whipped cream. Pie will last for 4 days, covered in the fridge, but crust will get a bit moist over time. 


    Fat + Flour = Crust Power!The pastry, with just enough water to hold it together.Roll, fit and crimp. I really like using a scissors to trim excess pastry.Now, mix the filling. Taste it, too. No one likes an under-spiced pumpkin pie.Pour into crust, no pre-baking required. Bake, admire how awesome your kitchen smells, and contemplate whipped cream toppings.

    Pie for breakfast = breakfast of champions. With extra whipped coconut cream, please!!


    Pumpkin Pie Filling Option 2 // plant-based; vegan; soy-free // makes 1 9" or 10" pie //

    • 2 ½ cups pumpkin puree
    • ½ cup raw cashews, soaked, drained and rinsed
    • ¼ cup coconut cream
    • ½ cup organic sugar of choice, like white, brown, coconut or sucanant
    • 2 tsp molasses
    • 1 TB agave, maple syrup or honey
    • 2 TB arrowroot powder 
    • 2 tsp cinnamon
    • ½ tsp ground ginger or ½” piece fresh, grated
    • ¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
    • pinch cloves
    • ¼ tsp sea salt
    • 2 tsp vanilla
    • 1 TB bourbon (optional)

    Quick Crispy Spelt Crust // plant-based; vegan; soy-free; nut-free // makes one 9" or 10" pie crust //

    • ¾ cup spelt flour (I use Bob's Red Mill)
    • ¾ cup whole wheat pastry flour OR other flour of choice
    • 1 TB ground flax seeds
    • 6 TB virgin coconut oil OR a 50:50 ratio of virgin coconut oil:Earth Balance (use soy-free Earth Balance if desired)
    • 6 TB plant-based milk (use a non-soy milk if desired)
    • ½ tsp sea salt
    • ½ tsp apple cider or coconut vinegar
    • 1 TB white sugar, brown sugar or sucanant
    1. To make the pie crust, sift flours, sea salt, flax seeds, sugar together. Melt the milk and coconut oil together, and then add to the flour mixture. Stir briefly, but make sure everything is mixed well.
    2. Allow pastry to sit for 5 minutes. Then, roll out as any pie crust, following the directions for the traditional pie crust above. The pastry for this crust will be more delicate, and can stick to the rolling surface so be sure to use plenty of flour to help roll the pastry out.
    3. Although I do not recommend chilling the pie dough in a disc as the traditional crust as it gets too firm, you CAN chill in the fridge once in pie plate, up to 1 day ahead of time, covered tightly with plastic wrap to prevent drying.
    4. When you are ready to make the pie, preheat oven to 450F. Make the filling by adding everything into a blender, and pureeing until the cashews are completely smooth. If you want more texture to the filling, simply reserve 1 cup of the pumpkin puree ad stir it in after pureeing the filling. That is my favorite method to use! Taste the filling, adjusting spices if necessary.
    5. Pour the filling into the prepared crust, tap on the counter one or two times to get rid of air bubbles, and smooth the top out with a spoon or spatula. Bake for 15 minutes at 450F, and then for another 35-40 minutes at 350F. If your crust is getting too brown, simply shield it with tin foil or parchment. The filing will be soft, and may wiggle a bit. Cool the pie completely on a cooling rack for a few hours, and then in the fridge for up to overnight, at a minimum for 4 hours. This allows the filling to set completely. Slice and serve with your favorite whipped cream. Pie will last up to 4 days covered in the fridge, with the crust getting only slightly less crispy.

     Crust time: simply sift, mix and roll. No chilling required for this one. Mix it all up...being gentle, don't over mix or else you will have a tough crust.Crust purists would prbably sneer at you now, but eh...whatever.This crust is a bit more delicate than others, so just be gentle, use enough flour to prevent sticking, and when in doubt, just patch up any holes or tears that happen. Gingerly put into your pie pan, trim the edges, fold under and crimp.Ok, now onto the filling! Our secret weapons: soaked cashews and coconut cream!I put 1 cup of pumpkin puree in a bowl, and then everything else in a blender to puree. I did this to keep some texture to the filling.Puree until smooth...this took me about 2 minutes in a Vitamix, but let your blender run as long as you need to. Your neighbors may hate you, buuuut pie!Mixed with the other 1 cup of pumpkin puree.Pour into prepared pie shell, tap on the counter to rid any air bubbles, smooth out and bake!You're well on your way to pie...it should smell like autumn-spice heaven, and give any stupid pumpkin spice latte a run for it's money.After you've let the pie cool and set, you can slice and enjoy! Pie for breakfast, as I already stated, is pretty much the best thing on a chilly fall moring. With hot coffee, of course.Enjoy!