ABOUT THE RECIPE:
To finish any festive meal with a flourish, I take a cue from my mother, who always offered a homemade pecan pie as the finale for our holiday get togethers. Now I have carried on that tradition with an innovative and tasty Black Forest Pecan Pie, vegan version of this gooey, sweet treat that features a flourless crust. I must admit, I think this is the most decadent dessert I have ever created!
Makes 8 servings
10 large pitted Medjool dates
3/4 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded dried coconut
1/4 cup pecan halves
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup unsulphured blackstrap molasses
1 cup vegan chocolate chips
5 pitted Medjool dates
2 tablespoons vegan buttery spread
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups pecan halves
15 pecan halves
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
To make the crust, put the dates, oats, coconut, and pecans in a high-performance blender or food processor, and process to the consistency of soft dough.
Transfer the dough onto a board and form it into a ball. Flatten the dough slightly with your hands, and then use a rolling pin to roll the dough into a 10-inch round. Invert the dough on to an ungreased 9-inch pie plate. Press the date mixture evenly over the bottom of the plate, pushing it up the sides of the pie plate as you go, to make a crust.
To craft a pretty edge to the crust, use your index finger to push the inner edge of the crust out, while pinching the outer edge in with the thumb and index finger of your other hand to make a classic scallop edge around the piecrust.
To make the filling, put the maple syrup, molasses, chocolate chips, pitted dates, margarine, water, and vanilla extract in a blender and process until very smooth. Pour the maple mixture in a medium bowl. Fold in 1 1/2 cups pecan halves.
Pour the filling into the crust and smooth the top using a rubber spatula. Gently press 15 pecans halved into the top of the pie, arranging them in a pleasing manner. Put the pie on a baking sheet and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the edges start to set and brown. Tent the pie with foil and bake for 5 to 8 minutes more, or until the pie has almost set in the middle. The filling will still be somewhat soft.
Carefully put the pie on a wire rack (the filling will be very hot!) and let cool for 1 hour. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours. Cover and store leftover pie in the refrigerator for up to three days.
VANILLA CRÉME "FRESH"
Makes 4 servings
8 ounces extra firm regular tofu
1 tablespoon nondairy milk, plus more as needed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons maple syrup, plus more as needed
Put all ingredients into a blender and process until smooth. Taste and add more maple syrup if sweeter flavor is desired. Chill 2 to 4 hours and serve. This is delicious served over cakes, pies fresh fruit and tarts.