Traditions are a big part of the holiday season for many people, but if you find yourself doing something strictly out of tradition and not because you particularly enjoy it, then it’s time for a new tradition. Or maybe, just time for a new recipe. Take pumpkin pie. It’s hard to imagine Thanksgiving without one, but too often it’s a soggy, bland dessert that disappoints. Made with a cup of sugar and white flour crust, it’s an indulgence that’s not always worth it.
But what if you broke from the traditional recipe by taking the granulated sugar and flour out—and it actually made the pie taste better? What if this new and slightly untraditional version of pumpkin pie had a buttery, crunchy crust and silky-smooth filling? Sure, you could call this new and improved version Primal Pumpkin Pie. Or, you could just call it by another name: Damn Good Pie.
The best place to start the re-invention of pumpkin, or really any pie you’re serving, is with the crust. Nut-based crusts don’t have the exact same flavor or texture as a crust that you roll out from a flour-based dough. However, the buttery-crumbly texture and naturally sweet flavor of a nut crust will pair really well with any of your favorite pie fillings: pumpkin, apple, berry, other fruits and chocolate. The natural sweetness of nuts also means that you can add less sweetener to your pie filling. Also, nut-based crusts are filling, so a small slice of pie is likely to fill you up and satisfy.
Almonds and walnuts tend to make crusts that hold together better than other nuts and using a tart pan instead of a pie plate gives the crust better shape. To avoid a soggy bottom, pre-bake the crust, then add your filling and continue baking until the filling is done. Nut crusts are a little fragile, so let the pie cool completely before cutting into it and use care when removing the pie from the pan.
The filling of Primal Pumpkin Pie is made with coconut milk instead of heavy cream, which gives the pumpkin a silky texture but doesn’t impart any detectable coconut flavor. A little bit of arrowroot powder ensures that the coconut milk filling firms up, or, you can opt to use heavy cream instead of coconut milk and skip the arrowroot. However, the coconut milk also gives the pie just a hint of sweetness, so a scant 3 tablespoons of maple syrup for the entire pie is the only additional sweetener needed. Throw in a generous blend of baking spices and their aroma alone will have you salivating as the pie bakes.
When you, and even your non-Primal friends and family, take a bite of Primal Pumpkin Pie it will confirm that change is a good thing. There is, however, one pie tradition that’s worth keeping—a dollop of whipped cream on top (of course, you can always make it with coconut milk instead of whole cream).
Experiment with the types of nuts used for the crust. A walnut/pecan or pecan/hazelnut crust would also be delicious.
The more tapioca/arrowroot starch that is used, the more quickly the pie filling will cook.
To prevent the exposed crust from browning too quickly, you can use a pie crust shield or create one using pieces of foil.
The caramel topping is optional but helps to provide a little additional sweetness and also fills in any cracks on the top of the pie.
If you don’t make the caramel, consider adding an additional tablespoon of maple syrup to the pie filling.
1.5 cups Walnuts
1 cup Hazelnuts
1 Tbsp. Coconut Sugar (optional)
2.5 Tbsp. Unsalted Butter, cut into pieces
1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
1 15-oz. can Pumpkin Puree (or 1.5 cups Roasted Pumpkin)
1/2 cup Full-Fat Coconut Milk
2 Tbsp. Coconut Cream
3 Tbsp. Maple Syrup (consider using ¼ cup Maple Syrup if are not making the caramel below)
1/2 Tbsp. Vanilla Extract
1.5 Tbsp. Arrowroot or Tapioca Starch (1/2-1 Tbsp. if using Roasted Pumpkin)
1.5-2 tsp. Pumpkin Pie Spice
3 Large Eggs
Maple Caramel (optional):
3 Tbsp. Coconut Milk
1/2 Tbsp. Maple Syrup
1 Tbsp. Coconut Sugar
1 tsp. Butter
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Add the walnuts, hazelnuts, coconut sugar and baking soda to a food processor. Process the nut mixture until a crumbly meal forms. You may need to stop the food processor one or two times to scrape the nuts off the side of the container. Add in the pieces of butter and continue pulsing until the crust mixture comes together in a ball.
Lightly grease a 9” tart tin. You can also place a circular piece of parchment on the bottom of the tin if you’d like. Press the crust mixture on the bottom and sides of the tart tin, working carefully to make sure all parts of the inside of the tin are covered in an even layer. Use a fork to place a handful of holes in the bottom of the pan. Place the crust in the oven to bake for 10-12 minutes.
Clean the food processor and add all of the filing ingredients to the food processor except the eggs. Combine the ingredients until well combined. Crack the eggs into the processor and process again until the mixture is smooth.
Pour the pumpkin mixture into the tart tin. Fill it just enough that a small amount of the crust is peeking out of the top, making sure not to overfill it. Carefully place the pie into the oven for 35-45 minutes, or until the center of the pie is just firm. If the outside crust is browning too quickly, you can use a pie crust shield. Allow the pie to fully cool. Once the pie has fully cooled, carefully pop it out of the tart pan.
While the pie is cooling, make the maple caramel by adding the caramel ingredients to a small saucepan over medium heat. Whisk occasionally. Once the mixture begins bubbling, reduce the heat to medium low. Continue heating the caramel for an additional minute or so until it reduces and thickens to the consistency of runny honey. Allow the caramel to cool slightly, then use a pastry brush to brush the top of the pumpkin pie with the caramel. Place the pie in the fridge for 30 minutes before slicing and serving. Top with a dollop of whipped cream.