Clearly, this calls for some pie. Because in this household, we celebrate pi with pie.
In this case, pumpkin cream pie! Why? Because I have frozen pumpkin puree galore in my freezer right now, leftover from last fall, and this seems like a good opportunity to use it. Also, because I once tried this AMAZING recipe for pumpkin cream pie, the first time I had ever heard of such a thing actually, and ever since then I've been wondering if it would be possible to make something similar that did not have the Jello pudding mix but still tasted amazing.
It's not that I'm overtly against Jello pudding mix. Well, actually, I might be. I'm not entirely fond of the ingredients list (Carrageenan, food dyes, and artificial flavors? No thank you!), but my issues with processed food are a topic for another day.
So I set out to make my own version. A vegan version. But I was feeling picky about how I wanted to veganize it. I did not want to make something that used tofu, although I know from my own past experience that tofu can make for some pretty amazing desserts. And while that Jello pudding mix technically doesn't have any dairy in it (that I can see, anyway), I worried that simply using nondairy milk to make it would not result in the same rich pie filling that I loved so much the first time around.
The solution? Coconut cream, of course! Canned coconut cream adds that depth of flavor that I wanted, but also didn't add an overtly coconut flavor to the dessert. Make sure you get canned coconut cream; refrigerated coconut milk-based coffee creamer is not what you want. You can get straight coconut cream in cans at Trader Joe's or Whole Foods, possibly in other health food stores. Or you can just buy a can of full fat coconut milk, refrigerate it for a day or two, and then open it without shaking it up first; the coconut cream will have separated to the top, and you can scoop it out and use it! But you'll need 2-3 cans, I imagine, to get the 1¼ cups total coconut cream needed for this recipe.)
So yes, this recipe is dairy free, soy free (unless you use soy milk), egg free. Could potentially be gluten free if you found gluten free graham crackers for the crust (or just went with some other gluten free pie crust).
I also wanted there to be more actual pumpkin in here. The original recipe only had a half cup, for crying out loud! What kind of pumpkin pie only has a half cup of pumpkin in it? Surely I could fit a bit more. I do love putting vegetables into my desserts, after all, and it turns out that putting in twice as much pumpkin only made this pie better.
For nondairy milk, I used a blend that was coconut milk and almond milk, but I imagine you could use most any nondairy milk you like. I used a plain variety, but I guess if you like sweet you could probably use some of that vanilla flavored extra sweet stuff.
Next time I make this pie, I may experiment with adding more spices; the original recipe is very lightly spiced, and this is tasty, but sometimes you just want that full autumn spice experience.
Last note: I am not including a recipe here for graham cracker crust, since mine always come out terrible. Meaning, they taste great, but they're crumbly and don't hold together well. (I can make an amazing pastry crust though!) But really, it's super easy to veganize any recipe for graham cracker crust. Just make sure that your graham crackers are, in fact, vegan, and then use either coconut oil (my choice) or Earth Balance (or other vegan margarine, although I'm not a fan of most margarine either) in place of the butter.
Vegan Pumpkin Cream PieInspired by the Pumpkin Cream Pie recipe from The Pioneer Woman
vegan graham cracker crust (use recipe of your choice)
¾ cup coconut cream
¾ cup nondairy milk
3 tablespoons cornstarch
¼ cup sugar
pinch ground cloves
¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup pumpkin puree
½ cup coconut cream
In a medium saucepan, whisk together cornstarch, sugar, salt, and spices. Slowly whisk in ¾ cup coconut cream and nondairy milk. Bring to a boil over medium-low heat, stirring continuously (it might get lumpy if you stop stirring), until mixture starts to thicken (10-15 minutes). Continue to cook and stir until the mixture is good and thick, another couple of minutes. Stir in vanilla extract. Stir in pumpkin puree. Put a lid on the pot and set it aside to cool. When it's cool enough, put the pot in the fridge so that the mixture can cool completely.
When mixture is cool, remove it from the fridge. In a mixing bowl, add ½ cup coconut cream and beat until peaks start to form. Fold the pumpkin cream mixture into the whipped coconut cream until combined. Pour into graham cracker crust.
Cover and refrigerate for at least 2-3 hours, preferably overnight. If desired, crumble additional graham crackers on top before serving.
This post was shared at the Healthy, Happy, Green, & Natural Party Blog Hop on 3/10/2015.