Happy (belated) Pi Day! Yes, yes, I know I’m way past the date at this point, but what can I say? For me, every day is a reason to celebrate with pie, so it’s way too easy for March 14th to slip by me unnoticed. Also, there’s 3 big days in a row, so it’s hard to keep track. Those three days in case you’re not the biggest nerd in the world like me, are, as previously mentioned, Pi Day, the Ides of March (for which I might make stab-you-in-the-baklava 😉 ), and then the day that even you non-nerds know about, everybody’s favourite drinking holiday – St.Patrick’s Day (which of course I gave it’s requisite due in last week’s post).
Now it’s possible that this year could’ve slipped by me unnoticed as well, but those of you who are the nerdiest of math nerds may have also noticed that this year is extra special in that March 14th, 2015 becomes 3.1415 day. Now that’s worth some extra special celebration (If I’d wanted to go the nerdiest route of all, I could’ve done my baking at 9:26 so that I would’ve been paying homage to pi to the tune of 7 digits….that’s too much even for me though…who am I kidding? No it’s not. I mostly just didn’t want to wake up that early just for a joke 😉 Sure I could’ve lied and said I baked this at 9:26am, but if I can’t be honest with you dear anonymous reader, who can I be honest with?).
On that note, I’d been thinking about pecan pie lately, but obviously, if I’m going to be making it extra special, I can’t just bring you some plain old pecan pie. For an occasion requiring this high of an honour, that would be the baking equivalent of just spitting in a bowl and calling it soup. It’s both wrong, disgusting and completely disrespectful (I maybe went a little too far in that comparison, but you see my point).
Now, usually dessert is paired with coffee, so I figured, if coffee became part of the dessert, you could save yourself having to dirty another dish at dessert time! Now to me, that’s most excellent news, because the very last thing I want to do after consuming an indulgent slice of decadence, is dishes. It just straight up brings me down. It’s like a punishment coming after the reward. Boooo I say. Booo.
The other benefit to adding coffee is that pecan pie (or tart in this case, aka mini pie so that it still fits the spirit of the day 🙂 ) is usually super sweet, so pairing it with the bitterness of coffee seemed like just the ticket. But then I thought to myself, “You know what else could make this perfection on my palate? (ah alliteration, how I love thee, let me count the ways), feigning health status by adding fruit! (also, now it has an air of being brain food, which is just doubly awesome). Since I already had my sweet and bitter component covered, I decided to add a layer of sour to the bottom of this mini pie via some cranberries that I soaked overnight in orange juice.
Yield: 15 tarts
- coconut oil crust (see recipe below), or crust recipe of your choice (or you could just use premade tart crusts)
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- Enough orange juice to cover the cranberries
- 175g extra firm tofu (half of a standard sized package)
- 1/4 cup almond milk
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1/4 cup agave
- 1/4 cup vegan butter
- 1 teaspoon maple extract
- 2 teaspoons instant coffee powder
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 1/4 cups pecan pieces
- 1/3-1/2 cup of peach jam
- 1/2 cup pecan halves (for decorating the top, feel free to omit if you don’t have them)
1. The night before, place cranberries in a small bowl and cover with orange juice. Place in the fridge overnight. Strain the cranberries. The orange juice now is deliciously sugary-cranberry infused, so I would recommend drinking it and not throwing it out (or use in a cocktail of some sort).
2. In a food processor or blender, crumble the tofu and combine with almond milk, cornstarch and salt. Blend until completely smooth.
3. In a small saucepan on medium heat, combine both sugars, maple syrup and agave. Heat to approximately 240F on a candy thermometer (or about 15 minutes – until sugars start to thicken) stirring constantly.
4. Add the instant coffee, maple extract and the butter and stir to melt. The coffee doesn’t really blend in that well at this point, but don’t worry about it too much for now. Remove from heat and transfer to a mixing bowl.
5. Add the tofu mixture and the vanilla to the mixing bowl and, with an electric mixer, beat until everything is smoothly mixed together and coffee is completely blended in. Stir in pecan pieces.
6. Preheat oven to 325F and grease 15 muffin tins. Press pie crust of your choice into each muffin tin
7. In the bottom of each tart place a teaspoon of peach jam and top with a teaspoon of the strained cranberries. Spoon approximately 2 tablespoons of the coffee-maple-pecan mixture on top (or enough to reach the top of the tart without spilling over).
8. Bake for 15 minutes, then, if using pecan halves, remove tarts from the oven and place pecan halves on top. Return to the oven and bake for an additional 5-10 minutes or until pecans are slightly toasted and filling is relatively set (it’s fine/good if it’s still slightly jiggly).
9. Cool completely and enjoy!
- 1 3/4 cups + 2 tablespoons pastry flour
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons coconut oil (in solid form – chill in the fridge a little if you need to)
- 3 tablespoons cold vegan butter
- 1 1/2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
- 6-8 tablespoons ice water
1. Sift the flour and baking powder together in a medium bowl. Stir in sugar and salt.
2. Add the solidified coconut and vegan butter in pieces to the dry ingredients coatings the pieces with flour.
3. Work the pieces into the flour with your fingers, breaking up the pieces more if need be (you don’t want any pieces that are larger than a pea).
4. Add the vinegar to the ice water. Add the water/vinegar mixture to the dry ingredients a small amount at a time, mixing between additions. You don’t want to add any more water than necessary, so once the dough starts to slightly hold together when pinched, then you can stop adding water.
5. Gather the dough into a ball and flatten into a disc. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate.
6. 10-15 minutes before you’re ready to use it, remove from the fridge to allow it to warm up enough to use.
7. Divide the dough equally between your greased muffin tins and press the dough up the sides to make your tart shell.