The Intolerant Kitchen: Vegan Key Lime Pie (Recipe)
Since making a veg-inspired shift I’ve been going mad for desserts. I’ve always had a sweet tooth–that I can not deny–but my craving for sugar aside there’s been something about the challenge of being as creative as possible with fruits, vegetables, pulses, nuts, eggs and natural sugars that has turned me into a dessert-making pariah. At least once a week I set aside a few hours where I slink off to the kitchen and modify recipes from vegan/vegetarian cookbooks to make something sinfully delectable and that becomes wholly my own.
I modify many vegan, dairy and gluten free recipes quite frequently because one of the problems I’ve come up against in terms of vegan-ish desserts (I say “vegan-ish” because I still consume honey and do not plan on giving it up any time soon) is the prolific use of cane sugars, agave syrup, stevia or coconut oil/flesh/water/milk. I’m not a fan of these ingredients for various reasons, some of which include taste (I’m talking to you Stevia and your metallic aftertaste), glycemic load or consistency. Generally speaking, I find many fruits can provide a dish with the sweetness it needs and, if that doesn’t work, then dates, figs, honey and maple syrup can go the extra mile to give any dessert the saccharine boost it needs.
Now while I experiment with amuse bouches of the after dinner variety I have found there is one that I have gravitated towards for the moment and want to make ALL THE TIME. Yes, it’s so good it required 10 screaming capitals to announce it’s arrival.
Inspired by the recipe in Ella Woodward’s food and lifestyle book, Deliciously Ella, I’ve been doing my best to perfect a coconut-free version of her key lime pie for weeks now. A revelation in so many ways, it is one of the most delicious things I’ve put in my mouth even though it is not pie in the traditional sense. Made primarily with nuts and avocado it tends to weird some people out when they first take a look and attempt to discern a) what this monstrosity is, b) what the green filling could possibly be made of, and c) whether it is like kryptonite and will turn those who eat it into dust. Although I have been, warily, questioned about my pie a few times, in almost 99% of the cases the taste testers were hard pressed to put their fork down after savouring this creamy and slightly mouth-puckering delight. In fact, most people reached for another piece. I mean, how could you not want more of an after dinner treat that doesn’t make your waistline recoil?
The kind of dessert that compels you take seconds and then follow it up with thirds.
Vegan Key Lime Pie
Prep time: 30 – 40 minutes (this does not include soaking time for dates)
Cooking time: 0 minutes
Serves 8-10…or just one if I’m present because I will eat ALL THE PIE.
Making the base
1 cup of almonds (I like using raw sprouted almonds as they give the base a slightly vanilla flavour)
1 cup of walnuts
20-25 Medjool dates (pitted)
1 tablespoon of almond or walnut oil
2 tablespoons of honey (I prefer thicker more astringent honeys like dandelion, beechwood or even Manuka)
A pinch of salt
1-3 tablespoons of water (not always needed, it depends on how much water the dates have absorbed)
To make the base soak the dates in a bowl of tepid water for a minimum of 2 hours. While the dates don’t need to be soaked it makes blending them easier. Once soaked, remove the pits from the dates and set aside. Hang onto the sugary water left behind in your date-soaking bowl as this will become handy for both the base and filling.
Put the almonds and walnuts into a blender/food processor and blend to your desired consistency (though not so fine that the mixture becomes a flour). Once the nuts have been blended add a pinch of salt.
Add the honey, almond/walnut oil and dates to the food processor. Blend until all the ingredients are combined. The mixture should be sticky but not wet. If it’s still on the dry side add a tablespoon or two of the water from the date bowl. Repeat as much as needed. Remove the mixture from the blender and press into a baking dish or tin–about 1 inch thick or thicker if you go mad for almonds. Once pressed into the dish set aside.
Making the filling
4-6 ripe avocados (they should be slightly soft to the touch)
The juice of 4-7 limes (depending on how sour you like your pie, I go for seven if the limes are small)
1/2 cup of maple syrup
1/4 – 1/3 cup of the date water (the water the dates were soaked in)
*1 tsp of matcha powder (makes my green filling even greener and packs it with antioxidants)
Half a shot of lime rind (grated)
Squeeze the juice from the limes into the blender. Add the flesh from the avocados along with the maple syrup and blend until smooth. If you find the mix is not turning in your blender/processor add 1/4 cup of the date water to start. Continue to add water until the filling reaches your desired consistency. It should be smooth but still dense. Add the matcha powder if so desired.
Pour the mix onto the base and add the half shot of grated lime rind on top. Place in the freezer and let set for 1-2 hours. When it’s time to serve take it out for 10-15 minutes so it softens just a little as there is nothing fun about carving your way through solidifying avocado filling.
Cut generous portions. Serve. Savour. Count your blessings and take another.