Monday, November 14, 2011

Pecan and Date Pie

If you need dessert ideas for Thanksgiving, try this version of pecan pie; dates add fun variety, and are sure to make this pie a crowd-pleaser.

For the crust:
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, divided
  • 3 tablespoons ice water
  • 1 teaspoon fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons vegan powdered sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup vegetable shortening (such as Earth Balance)
  • Cooking spray
For the filling:
  • 1/2 cup chopped pitted dates
  • 1/3 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 cup corn syrup (such as Wholesome Sweeteners)
  • 1/2 cup packed vegan brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 Ener-G eggs
1. Lightly spoon the flour into dry measuring cups and level with a knife.  In one bowl, combine 1/4 cup of the flour with the ice water and lemon juice.  Stir with a whisk until smooth.  This mixture of a solid suspended in liquid is known as a slurry and is the key to a nice tender crust.

2. Combine the remaining 3/4 cup flour in a bowl with the powdered sugar and 1/4 teaspoon salt.  Cut in the shortening with a pastry blender until the mixture is like coarse meal.  Add the slurry and toss with a fork until moist.  Press the mixture into a 4-inch circle on 2 sheets of overlapping plastic wrap (they should extend at least 13 inches end to end).

3. Cover the dough with 2 additional sheet of overlapping plastic wrap, and roll the dough into a 12-inch circle through the plastic.  Freeze for 10 minutes.

4. Remove the top sheets of plastic, and let the dough stand for 1 minute (you want it to become pliable again).  Flip the dough over so the remaining plastic wrap is on top, and fit into a 9-inch pie plate coated with cooking spray.  Remove the remaining plastic wrap and press the dough into the bottom and up the sides of the pie plate, folding the edges under.

4. To prepare the filling, sprinkle the dates and pecans evenly over the bottom of the crust.  (Note: dates are quite sticky and can make for hazardous chopping.  To make the process easy, coat your knife with cooking spray).

5. In a large bowl, combine the corn syrup, brown sugar, 3 tablespoons flour, vanilla extract, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and Ener-G eggs.  Beat with a hand mixer until well blended.  Spoon the mixture into the prepared crust.

6. Bake at 325 degrees for 55 minutes to 1 hour - a knife tip inserted about 1 inch from the edge of the pan should come out clean.  Cool the pie completely on a wire rack.  Don't forget that the filling will continue to set as it cools, so it's okay if it's a little bubbly still on emerging from the oven.

Add a dollop of Soyatoo whipped cream on top for a sweet finish.

Nutrition Info:
10 servings (1 wedge), Calories 321 

Tasting Notes:
A wonderfully sticky, moist interior - the dates add incredible flavor and texture compared to a standard pecan pie.  I would, however, use more pecans next time - probably closer to 1/2 or 2/3 of a cup - to balance the flavor.  I worried about the texture of the crust while I was rolling it out, but need not have fretted - the final product was wonderfully flaky.  My only complaint is that - between 1 cup corn syrup and 1/2 cup brown sugar - this pie was a little too sweet, even for my taste.  I would decrease the brown sugar next time. 


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