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'Everything-Free' Pumpkin Pie

With the holiday season fast approaching, cooks and bakers everywhere are rolling up their sleeves and firing up the ovens. And while this is a joyful, fun and festive time, it can be a little stressful, too, as the pressure to create meals, snacks and desserts that are Pinterest-worthy AND delicious is never greater than during these few months.

Add to the mix the ever-increasing dietary restrictions, needs and sensitivities of family and friends, and you've got even the most confident chefs running to the nearest bakery for help.

It can be a challenge to recreate beloved desserts — especially holiday favorites — without the use of eggs, butter, flour or cream. But I'm here to tell you that it CAN be done.

And I'm starting with one of the most iconic of all holiday desserts: pumpkin pie.

Full disclosure: I am NOT a fan of traditional pumpkin pie. A ho-hum crust, topped with an often too-bland, weirdly textured filling is not the dessert I reach for on Thanksgiving.

But THIS pie? It's a keeper, with much to love.

To start, it's no-bake (unless you count the few minutes needed to make the crumb crust). So instead of taking up valuable oven space needed for your roasts, bakes and casseroles, this dessert can be made earlier in the day, or even the day before. This do-ahead feature saves time on the big day too — a bonus for a harried host or hostess.

Next? No rolling out/wrestling with pie dough (possibly my least favorite task). If you've never made a cookie crust before, get ready to fall in love. All you need to do is obliterate some cookies (by hand or in the food processor), mix with a few ingredients and press into your pan. A quick turn in the oven, and you've got a delicious crust that can hold its own against the traditional variety any day!

The crust is beautifully complemented by the fluffy, spice-scented pumpkin mousse filling. The secret? Coconut milk whipped "cream." Yes, a can of coconut milk whips up into a dairy-free imposter that will fool even the most discerning palates!

Finally, this pie is not only delicious, it's what I like to call "everything-free." Gluten-free. Egg-free. Dairy-free. Nut-free.

How wonderful for guests to partake in a truly indulgent dessert. One that looks as good as it tastes, and doesn't feel like an afterthought.

Your only problem? Keeping it away from the rest of the crowd!

"Everything Free" Pumpkin Pie (adapted from Martha Stewart Living)

Yields: one 9" pie

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups gingersnap crumbs (from 8 ounces dairy-free, gluten-free gingersnaps)
  • 6 tablespoons non-dairy spread, melted
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 can (about 14 ounces) chilled, full-fat coconut milk 13 1/2
  • 1 tablespoon confectioners' sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 can (about 15 ounces) canned pumpkin
  • 4 ounces non-dairy cream cheese
  • ½ cup (packed) dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • ½ cup maple syrup

Directions:

  1. Before you begin, place your mixer bowl and whisk attachment in the freezer.
  2. Make the crust: Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees. Combine gingersnap crumbs, non-dairy spread and granulated sugar in a 9" pie plate. Press mixture into the bottom and sides, using a flat-bottomed glass or measuring cup to tamp in the crust firmly and evenly. Bake for 10-12 minutes and let cool completely on a wire rack.
  3. Make the whipped "cream": Open the can of chilled coconut milk and carefully scoop out only the solids at the top, leaving the water in the can (this can be used in shakes or smoothies, if desired). Beat the milk, vanilla and confectioners' sugar in your chilled mixer bowl for 3-5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and keep in the fridge till ready to use. Wipe out the mixer bowl and whisk attachment.
  4. Make the filling: Beat pumpkin, cream cheese, brown sugar and pumpkin pie spice in your cleaned mixer bowl on medium speed till well blended. Reduce speed to low and pour in maple syrup. Fold in half the whipped cream and spoon into your cooled crust. Smooth the top and refrigerate for at least three hours (or up to a day in advance).
  5. Just before serving, spoon remaining whipped cream over the pie, smoothing decoratively. Serve immediately.

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