Canadian Thanksgiving is just around the corner, so I wanted to try to make something this week that was very thanksgivingy. Thanksgiving in Canada is probably pretty similar to the U.S version, only about one month earlier. Most people eat turkey, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, and all of those typical autumn dishes. But there are definitely some differences between the two. When my friend from North Carolina came to visit last week, we compared our two respective versions and holiday traditions. She enlightened me to American Thanksgiving, which (according to her) includes sporting events, a marshmallows and yam dish eaten during the main course, and a post Thanksgiving Christmas shopping spree known as Black Friday. While these are foreign to me, we could however relate on the ideas of cornucopias, pumpkins, and days off from work.
If you live outside of U.S. and Canada, Thanksgiving must sound a bit different. The best way I can explain it (for those of you who live in the common wealth) would be like Boxing Day, but without Christmas. We laze around the house, we eat, we drink, (most) shops are closed, and we hang out with extended family (whether we want to or not). But nevertheless, I love it, and it is my favourite holiday - probably because all of the amazig food.
The one and only time that I had pecan pie was for my 19th birthday. As that was a while ago, I thought it best to revisit it and try to make it healthy. I read several different recipes and then ended up ignoring most of them for the main reason that they all had so many nuts. But then, when it came time to make the pie, I ended up using a lot of nuts. So you might read this recipe and gasp a bit (I am specifically thinking of my mum here), but I have thought it over and it isn't that many.
So yes, this recipe has about twice the amount of pecans as a normal pie, but it also doesn't have corn syrup, white flour, or butter in it, and that's good. This pie is rich, dense, and full of protein - meaning that instead of serving 8-12 like a normal pie, this one will serve 16- 20. A little bit goes a long way ( I think I just inadvertently quoted a pop song here). Like most raw deserts this pie can be stored in the freezer for those times you want a little piece of dessert, so think of it as more of a investment for the autumn months and not a one-off, post dinner indulgence.
*I don't like the idea of counting calories ( I support the idea of listening to ones own body instead and maintaining a healthy life style), but just for fun I added up the calories of this pie and discovered that if one cuts the pie into 16 pieces, it is 200 calories less than a piece of traditional pecan pie, or if you cut it into 20 pieces, it will be roughly the equivalent of eating a mars/snickers bar - and wouldn't you rather eat those calories found in nutritious food like this?
The pie itself isn't that sweet, and this is on purpose. An old trick my mum and grandmother used to do was to cut the amount of sugar they put in a baked good and then put a little sugar on top before they baked it (I am specially thinking of ginger cookies and scones here). That way you have all the flavour from the sugar on your tongue without having to put in as much. Before serving, I topped the pie with coconut whipped cream which makes the dish a lot lighter in texture and drizzled it with maple syrup which brings the not-to-sweet pie to the right level sweetness for a healthy dessert. I highly recommend doing both.
Pecan Pie with Maple Coconut Cream
Recipe: (serves 16-20)
Crust:1 1/2 cups pecans or raw buckwheat flour (I used pecans, but think I might use buckwheat would be nice)
1/2 cup coconut
2 Tbsp coconut oil
1/4 cup chopped dates
a pinch of sea salt
1/2 tsp vanilla
Procedure: Puree all of the ingredients together in a food processor until the mixture holds together. Press firmly into a 20 cm (8 inch) pie plate (one with a removable bottom would be best, but it isn't necessary). Be sure to cover the bottom and sides of the pie plate. Chill pie crust.
1 cup chopped dates (soaked in 1 cup hot water for 30 minutes - keep the soaking water)
1/4 cup and 2 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
4 Tbsp coco butter, melted
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp sea salt
*optional: zest of 1 orange (Hannah suggested this).
Puree the pecans until they become very fine, almost so they become the consistency of nut butter. Add the cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and orange zest if using. Combine. Put mixture aside.
Puree the dates and water until they become a paste. Add the nut mixture and combine.
Slowly add the liquid oil. Be sure to add a little at a time while the machine is running, you dont want the mixture to split.
Poor the mixture into the pie shell and using the back of a spoon, spread it, filling all gaps (wet the spoon if the mixture begins to stick to it too much) .
Top the pie with more pecans if desired. Refrigerate to set.
To serve: it is best to slice the pie straight from the fridge when it is cold, but then let it warm up to room temperature (it will have a better consistency and flavour if you let it melt a bit) before eating. Serve with maple cream and a drizzle of more maple syrup.
The cake will last a week in the fridge or store in the freezer for an extended amount of time.
Maple Coconut Cream
Recipe:1 can of full fat coconut milk
1 tsp maple syrup, plus more for drizzling
Procedure: Place the can of coconut milk in the refrigerator overnight. The next day, scoop the soil, creamy fat from the top of the can, leaving behind the watery portion (save the watery portion for smoothies, baking, or soup) of the milk behind. Beat the cream portion with a electric beater until soft peaks form. Add the tsp of maple syrup and beat for another few minutes. The mixture will not get as stiff as cow cream, but it does become a soft, whipped cream consistency.