It has taken me several attempts (and a lot of pie-eating) over the last couple of weeks to feel confident with this recipe. I hope I’m not too late posting it today (the day before Halloween) – but if you’re still not sure what to do with all that pumpkin then this really is worth the effort:
Contains: nuts, soya. Gluten-free.
Serves: 8-10 (well, 6-12, depending on appetite)
For the crust –
- 150g hazelnuts
- 75g brazil nuts
- 75g almonds
- 7-10 medjool dates
- 20ml agave nectar
For the filling –
- 500ml (2 cups) pumpkin pureé
- 1 box (300g) silken tofu (e.g. Clearspring)
- 30ml agave nectar
- 2 level teaspoons arrowroot powder
- 1 level teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 level teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ level teaspoon nutmeg
To make the pumpkin pureé, halve the pumpkin and scoop out the seeds. Place both halves face-down in a roasting tin filled with enough water to cover the base. Place in the oven at 180°C for 30 minutes or until the flesh is soft. Allow to cool, then discard the skin and blend until smooth.
To make the crust, process the nuts and dates in a food processor or mini-chopper until finely ground and sticky enough to hold together when pressed between your finger and thumb. Add more dates if necessary. Add the agave nectar and mix well. Line a pie tin (you will need a “non-stick fluted loose base” flan/quiche tin) with a circle of greaseproof paper and spread the mixture over the base, heaping some of it up against the sides. Using your fingers, press the mixture down firmly across the base and up the sides, generally working from the middle outwards.
Pour the filling into the crust and bake in the oven for 10 minutes at 180°C. Be aware that nuts can burn very quickly, so do not bake for longer. Remove from the oven and once cooled, transfer to the fridge. Once chilled, remove from the pie tin and serve.
Notes, and variations:
Pumpkins vary in their colour and flavour. Choose a small, preferably organic pumpkin with bright orange flesh for the best result. One small pumpkin should yield about enough pureé for two pies, or one pie and something else…
I have also made this with more almonds (150g) and less hazelnuts (75g), which gives a finer, less autumnal crust. The hazelnuts are quite crunchy, but I like their seasonal flavour. You can experiment with any nuts though. Some recipes use macadamia nuts, which are really nice but might just break the bank!
The dates add the stickiness that binds the nuts together. When I ran out of dates I tried 14 dried sulphured apricots and 50g of raisins instead (because that’s what I had in the cupboard). This worked fine too and gave the crust a nice variegated orange and brown appearance.
My girls complained about too much cinnamon in my first attempt. I love cinnamon and think you can never have too much of it, but always eager to please, my second attempt contained no spices whatsoever. Here I have suggested keeping it simple with a little bit of cinnamon and nutmeg, but you could substitute an equivalent amount of mixed spice (which also contains ginger, coriander and cloves), or experiment with your own favorites. There are no absolute rules, and you do not need to add any spices at all.
It is not essential to add any sweeteners, but I have chosen to add a minimal amount. Alternatives to agave nectar include maple syrup, which is more golden in colour, and blackstrap molasses, which will turn your pie a rich brown.
It is not essential to bake this pie (other than to soften the pumpkin). All its components can be eaten cold, and the short bake is just to firm the filling and make it hold together better when cut. You may prefer simply to chill it in the fridge, in which case you might omit the arrowroot, which is there as a binding agent and does add a slightly floury texture. If you do this, your pie will probably be a bit sloppy, but it might arguably taste nicer and be better for you. Not baking prevents browning of the nuts and the negative effects of heat on the oils they contain. So it might depend on whether you plan on presenting your pie to your great aunt, or whether you are going to eat it all yourself…