Blah, blah, blah here I go with the pumpkins again.
I decided to play around with the traditional pumpkin pie by introducing different flavors into the dessert and miniaturizing it. Now, I’ve made pie only a few times ever, so rolling pie crust and demystifying all the kinds of pie innards still has a bit of a learning curve. I started by reading up on pie crust. See, I really wanted to incorporate coconut not only in the pie, but also the crust by using coconut oil. During this endeavor, I came across this article. This writer bemoans the use of coconut oil for crust in favor of leaf lard, which she describes as the “veritable ne plus ultra of pig fat” and goes on to reminisce about the hint of bacon flavor in her pie crust and aroma of “pig”. I’m all about the combination of sweet and salty but, um, gross. I googled the author and she seems like a perfectly nice lady (see, this is how I get sidetracked all the time), but what the fuck? I really hope the search for goose fat, marrow, foie gras, and bear fat (ha) is at least a little bit facetious.
Despite the admittedly attractive prospect of using all sorts of animal fats described in painstaking detail for my pie crust, I used coconut oil anyway!
…It was okay. It wasn’t the greatest pie crust I’ve ever imagined making, but it was probably better than the storebought kind! I’m pretty sure it wasn’t the coconut oil’s fault though.
I pressed that dough into the cups of a muffin pan and decided to make mini pies. I had roasted some butternut squash the previous night and whipped up a pumpkin pie filling based on the recipe in Voluptuous Vegan (which is ZOMG delicious!) with some coconut involved. Pumpkin and coconut just go together, I think. Even in savory food! One of my favorite dishes in Milwaukee is the Thai squash curry at EE Sane.
The idea for these pies was to incorporate a variety of autumnal flavors in tiny little packages. After baking the mini pumpkin pies, I chopped up some apples and sauteed the pieces with cinnamon, Earth Balance, coconut oil, apple cider, and brown sugar. I was going to add some rum or red wine to give the flavors even more depth, but totally forgot when it was time. Next time!
After letting the apples cool and topping the pies with them, I whipped up some coconut cream with a few other ingredients and dolloped it on the pies. The first can of coconut milk I opened that day was too watery, but that was probably my fault! There’s a specific method to follow when making coconut cream because just a little bit of water will make it soupy instead of a whipped cream texture:
1. Let the can of coconut milk sit at room temperature for 2-3 days, untouched. Do not shake or move around!
2. Don’t use the light kind. It’s full of water, which means not very much cream, and you’re wasting your money when you could just dilute the full fat version. Voila, more coconut milk!
3. Move the can to the refrigerator. Let chill for several hours, ideally overnight. Coconut milk is expensive and making coconut cream is time sensitive, so you don’t want to fuck this up.
4. Take can out of refrigerator when it’s time to make the cream. Scoop out all the cream. STOP when you get near the water and only scoop out the cream that’s not touching the water. There might be some chunks of coconut cream casualties, but better to lose a bit of the cream than the whole can and have to start over. Yikes!
5. Whip up the cream with some powdered sugar and a bit of vanilla. Metal bowl is best because it keeps the temperature low.
6. Hate planning days in advance? Me too! Stick some cans of coconut milk in the fridge whenever you have the vaguest idea that you might want to make coconut cream sometime soon. Keep them in there for weeks, or even at all times.
Now go make some coconut cream! I love it!
Back to the pies. I toasted the squash seeds with some salt, cinnamon, and black pepper for garnish. The peppery salty crunchiness was the perfect contrast to luscious coconut cream and both pumpkin and apple pie, all in one bite. I’m definitely going to make these again and work out the kinks of the recipe!