I first made this type of pressed crust while I was still at school at the Natural Gourmet Institute. For our final project, we had to cook for over 100 people. My classmate Eileen and I were in charge of the dessert (of course!) We did this toasted walnut crust with a pecan and maple syrup filling with a side of roasted pear and ginger sorbet and a cashew vanilla ice cream. Woah, it was intense.
But back to the crust. It's super easy to make. No need to roll out dough or let it rest or sacrifice your first born to the gods of thanksgiving... It's a great versatile crust that's also gluten free. I used a mixture of three different gluten free flours: white rice flour, potato starch and tapioca flour. They're all easy to find at any natural foods store. The brand I always see around is the Bob's Red Mill.
Now, on to the filling. I adapted this pumpkin pie recipe from the one that Millennium Restaurant in San Francisco makes for their Thanksgiving Dinner. It's vegan, so instead of using eggs, they use arrowroot (which is a starchy type flour that helps bind ingredients together and kinda give it an egg-y consistency but without the egg-y taste). They also use molasses which gives the pumpkin pie an earthy chocolatey-ness to it. Seriously, it tastes so rich and creamy, you wouldn't know it was vegan. I wouldn't say it tastes like a typical pumpkin pie, because it comes out sort of pudding like and not as solid as traditional pumpkin pies. The recipe calls for 1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree which is basically just a can of pumpkin. It's too damn labor intensive to cut up an actual pumpkin, de-seed it, roast it and then blend it. I mean, unless you're feeling super motivated or something.
Recipe for the crust:
1 cup walnuts
1 cup gluten free flour (2 cups white rice flour, 2/3 cup potato starch and 1/3 cup tapioca flour= this yields 3 cups, but only use one cup and save the rest for another baking adventure!)
1 /8 salt
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup melted coconut oil
Combine nuts, flour and salt into bowl of food processor. Grind to a fine meal.
Add syrup and oil to the processor. Pulse to form dough. Place dough in middle of 8 or 9 inch tart pan. Using your fingertips, press dough out so that bottom and sides are evenly covered. Trim crust and discard any excess. Place tart pan in refrigerator for 10 to 15 min to chill. (I didn't bother pre-baking it because it's a pretty solid crust that doesn't get soggy when filled.)
Recipe for the pumpkin pie filling:
Preheat oven to 350F.
1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
2/3 cup maple syrup
3 tablespoons molasses
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced ( fresh ginger makes ALL the difference!)
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground allspice
2 teaspoons arrowroot
1/2 cup soymilk
In a food processor, combine the pumpkin puree, maple syrup, molasses, vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, arrowroot and soymilk. Process until the mixture is well combined and smooth.
Pour into pie crust and bake for about 30 to 40 minutes or until the filling has firmed up. Let cool and serve.
Serves 8 to 10
Before it was baked:
The finished product: