I visited The States last year during their winter. It was around Thanksgiving, leading up to Christmas, and although freezing at times, it was a great time to be there. I was surrounded by heaps of holiday festivities, and delish looking holiday treats. I would’ve loved to indulge in the never ending supply of cakes and candy – I was on holiday after all – but there were a few things that kept me eating sensibly.
First was all that High-fructose corn syrup. As the name describes, corn syrup is super high in fructose. It is the primary sweetener used in America, so you’ll find it in pretty much anything sweet. It is obviously to be avoided by any fructose malabsorption sufferers. But don’t worry if you’re in Australia, we typically use glucose or cane sugar – the safer of the sugary evils.
Secondly, gluten-what? Aside from parts of NYC and an Italian man in a little café in San Francisco, I found it extremely tricky finding anything gluten-free. It made me realise just how lucky and spoilt for choice we are living in Melbourne. Meal-time wasn’t SO bad without gluten-free options, as it was easy enough to stick to simple salads, meats and rice dishes if I searched hard enough. But when it came to dessert, I was in struggle town.
My friend and travel companion, Libby, was pretty amazing putting up with my diet and eating alongside me throughout the trip. We found ourselves becoming fascinated with ingredients that kept popping up everywhere – bacon, pickles, pumpkin. Pumpkin intrigued me the most as every baked good you can think of had a pumpkin variation. I had never tried a sweet made from pumpkin. Perhaps I’ve been living under a rock?? But it made me pretty excited to get my hands on something gluten-free and pumpkiny. Unfortunately my search didn’t work out so well, but I couldn’t let that stop Libby. With a bit of encouragement one day she ordered a piece of pumpkin pie and I just sat gawking. I was happy one of us got to enjoy the delights of American pumpkin pie, though I haven’t stopped craving it since.
I’m glad to report this friendly and gluten free spin on the good old American Pumpkin Pie exceeded my expectations.
1 cup pecans
3/4 cup desiccated coconut
3/4 cup plain GF flour
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp salt
60g unsalted butter, melted (or Nuttelex)
2 tbsp rice malt syrup
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
8 pitted dates
500g roasted pumpkin
¼ cup maple syrup
1 tsp freshly grated ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cardamom
1/4 tsp nutmeg
Pinch of salt
3/4 cup coconut milk
3 eggs, lightly beaten
½ cup pecans
1 tbsp maple syrup
½ tsp cinnamon
Preheat oven to 180°C and place tray of quartered pumpkin in for 30-40 minutes til soft.
To make the crust: Prepare a 9-inch springform pan by lining the bottom with baking paper. Place pecans into food processor and pulse til roughly chopped. Add the rest of the dry ingredients and pulse. Add melted butter, syrup and vanilla and pulse til combined. Tip mixture out into pan and press firmly covering the bottom and 2-3 cm up the sides. Bake in oven for about 5-10 minutes to set. Remove the pan and set aside.
To make the filling: Place dates in food processor and process til smooth. Let the pumpkin cool enough to scoop flesh from the skin, and add to food processor. Add all ingredients except the eggs, processing on high until smooth and creamy. Ensure mixture is cool before finally adding the eggs, and process on high. Pour pumpkin mixture into cooled pie crust. Bake for 60 minutes (or until skewer comes out of the centre clean). Allow to cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan, then set pie on a wire rack to cool for at least an hour before serving.
To serve: Combine pecans, maple and cinnamon in a small bowl. Spread over baking paper and place in the oven for 10 minutes. Place cooled pecans over the pie, and place in the refrigerator. Tastes best the next day served with a little natural yoghurt.