Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Lactose-Free Pumpkin Pie
The "lactards" returned last night from an epic desert adventure, so I butchered the fatted October pumpkin and set about figuring out how to make a lactose-free pumpkin pie.
The crust is simple -- merely substitute melted coconut oil or melted cocoa butter for the butter in a sweet shortbread crust. Both coconut and cocoa fats lend a distinctive, marvelous flavor without making asses of themselves in front of the sugar and spice. It's getting a rich, tender, creamy filling (dairy adjectives, all!) that poses the challenge for our lactose-free custard-maker.
Combine 2 c. flour, 2/3 c. sugar and 1.5 tsp. fine sea salt. Drizzle in melted cocoa butter (pictured) or melted coconut oil and fluff it about with a fork. Something like 6-8 ounces should be about right to achieve a crumbly dough that holds it shape well when you squeeze it. Err on the side of more fat. You can supplement the saturated tropical fats with other vegetable oils, but be careful: straight-up oil makes for a straight-up oily crust. Dump the crumbly pile into your #9 skillet or large pie dish and press it down firmly, building it up the sides and forming an even, dense layer of crust. Refrigerate till the filling is ready.
My "pumpkin" was actually a cheese squash. I halved it, scooped out the seeds, plucked out the fibers, and roasted it cut-side-down on an oiled baking sheet at 400 degrees till so tender it lost all structural integrity and collapsed on itself in a gory heap. I put 2.5 cups of it in a blender with 1 c. unsweetened full-fat soy milk (not without a reservation or two*), 1/3 c. brown sugar, 1/2 other sugar (maple syrup, white sugar), 2 eggs, 1 egg yolk (for added richness), 1 tsp. cinnamon, 3/4 tsp. ginger, 1/2 tsp. nutmeg, 1/4 tsp. cloves and 1/4 tsp. allspice. Using roasted rather than boiled squash reduces its water content, making a denser custard that is less likely to curdle. Blend well and pour into the pie shell. Bake at 325-350 till the edges have risen just a tad and the interior still wiggles (but doesn't slosh) when you move it -- somewhere in the vicinity of 45 minutes.
*Soy bloats tummies, shrinks testes and kills cute rainforest animals. Furthermore, commercial nut, bean, and grain milks are almost always diluted, which is extra-undesirable when we consider that we're trying to replace the cream in our pumpkin pie, not just ordinary milk. Readily-digested and much less controversial rice milk is too watery, and I feared would make for curdled eggs. The other commercial non-dairy milks had loads of sugar and unpronounceables, so I left them on the shelf (where their life is frighteningly long). Undiluted homemade soymilk would be much better for custardy purposes, but if we're going to that trouble, we really ought to make our own almond milk, and avoid the whole fart-testicle-rainforest business anyway.