Mini pumpkin pies with spelt crust + coconut whipped cream

Mini pumpkin pies

In a few days, Thom and I will be hosting our First Annual Orphan Thanksgiving Extravaganza. Which is basically a fancy way of saying we're having all of our friends over, who don't have families in the area, to eat, drink, and give thanks to those people who decided to celebrate their first harvest, so many moons ago. We have no big plans, but I suspect we'll be watching too much football (I loathe football), drinking too much beer (bluh, give me sauvignon blanc - better yet, a gin rickey), and eating too much pumpkin pie (heavy on the whipped cream, please).

At the end of the day, we'll all crowd around the table and disregard the fact that some of us are meat eaters and some of us shudder at the very thought of eating animal flesh. That some of us are crazy ass liberals, who think that women should be able to make decisions for themselves, and some of us are more conservative with our beliefs (that might be a lie, I think we're all left-leaning hippies). We'll ignore the fact that some of us only like whipped cream from that plastic container and some of us think you're downright crazy if you eat anything other than whipped cream of the fresh variety. But, some of us are just happy there's whipped cream to go with our pie. All beliefs and opinions aside, we'll unite to give thanks for the warm food on our plates, the kind folks with whom we're sharing it (even if they do only eat whipped cream from plastic containers), and this humble world in which we live. Happy Thanksgiving (in three days), American friends. But let's remember to give thanks every day, k?

Spelt pie dough
Pumpkin filling and spelt dough
Mini pumpkin pies
Mini pumpkin pies and coconut whipped cream
Mini pumpkin pies

I spent all Saturday afternoon (seriously, ALL afternoon) working on this recipe. The first couple of rounds I was adamant about using tofu to give the pies that perfect pumpkin pie texture, and it just wasn't cutting it. So I decided out with the tofu and in with the full-fat coconut milk. Tapioca starch helped to thicken it, and a tiny bit of xanthan gum aided in stabilizing it. These little pies are oh so perfect, and I really could not be more excited to share this recipe with you.

Notes: This pie dough is tougher than your typical pie dough - if you want it to be super smooth, replace the flour with unbleached flour. If you don't have coconut milk, replace it with soy cream (almond milk may work, too). And FYI, 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon + 1/4 tsp ground ginger + 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg + 1/8 tsp ground cloves = 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice. If you don't have xanthan gum, just omit it - I added it because, when mixed with starch, it mimics eggs and creates a really awesome texture. Speaking of starch, you could also use potato starch in place of the tapioca. I like arrowroot powder, too.

UPDATE: I no longer use vegan butter. I use this coconut oil pie crust recipe, instead.

MINI PUMPKIN PIES WITH SPELT CRUST

CRUST
2 cups spelt flour
1 tablespoon cane sugar
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
6 tablespoons vegan butter
, cold
1/4 cup non-hydrogenated shortening, cold
6-8 tablespoons filtered water, ice cold

FILLING
1 cup pumpkin puree
6 tablespoons sucanat
1/2 cup full fat coconut milk
2 tablespoons tapioca starch
1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt. Using a pastry blender, or two knives, cut in the butter and shortening until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the water, one tablespoon at a time, and mix with your fingers until a dough starts to form. It's not going to be a perfectly smooth dough, FYI. So don't spaz out over its unsightly cracks. Divide the dough in half, pat into discs, then wrap with plastic; refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Allow the dough to reach room temperature before using.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the pumpkin, sucanat, and coconut milk; whisk to combine. Bring the mixture to a light boil then remove from heat and sift in the tapioca starch, xanthan gum, pumpkin pie spice, and sea salt; whisk vigirously for 20-30 seconds. Set the mixture aside to cool. This can also be made ahead and refrigerated, in an air tight container, for up to three days.

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Lightly oil one 12 cup non-stick muffin pan and one 6 cup non-stick muffin pan; set aside. Line a flat surface with parchment paper and sprinkle with spelt flour. Roll out one of the discs of dough until it is about 1/8" thick and use a 3" round, fluted cookie cutter to cut the dough. Transfer the dough pieces to the muffin wells, and shape them to fit. Repeat process with the second disc of dough.

Bake the mini pie shells at 350˚F for 4 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through. Remove from oven and spoon 1 heaping tablespoon of the pumpkin pie filing into each of the shells. Bake at 350˚F for 10 minutes. Allow to cool in pans for 15 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Refrigerate in an air tight container for up to three days. Serve cold or at room temperature.

Yield: 18 mini pies


COCONUT WHIPPED CREAM

1 can full-fat coconut milk, refrigerated overnight
1 tablespoon powdered sugar (or more, if desired)
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Remove the coconut milk from the refrigerator and scoop out the thick, white layer of fat on top. Reserve 1 tablespoon of the coconut water, then store the remainder for later use (in smoothies), if desired. Using a handheld electric mixer, cream the coconut milk fat, 1 tablespoon of coconut water, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract on high speed for 1-2 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Use immideately.

Yield: about 1 cup