T-Minus 3: Pumpkin Pie Made With What?

I tend to knit an eyebrow whenever I hear someone talk about "enlightened" recipes, particularly with sweets. I love a little fat and sugar at the end of a meal, so don't bother if all you got is some kind of reduced-fat cake-like thing that tastes like a chemical compromise. Give me an apple instead.

You can imagine my surprise, no, my astonishment, when I took my first bite of a pumpkin pie made with tofu. That old Thanksgiving classic -- the one with the luscious custardy filling that everyone loves to eat for breakfast the next day -- has undergone fat reduction, and this time, the operation was a huge success.

That's right, chuck the eggs and the dairy, and you'll still have a velvety smooth pumpkiny filling that tastes so much like the original you'll fool the guests. It's a culinary doppelganger if I ever saw one.

But do yourself a favor: Don't tell anyone. That kind of bulletin will be a shocker to meat-eating scaredy cats, causing them to run, hide and hightail it to the 7-11 for one of those low-fat dessert items in a box.

Without the dairy or eggs, this pumpkin pie is suitable for vegans as well as the Kosher kids coming to your house.

I took bits and pieces of various recipes I found online, and the details below are what I came up with.

The pie shell is up to you. I had no time to make dough, so I surrendered and bought pre-fab shells from Whole Foods, made with whole wheat flour and soybean oil, which tasted not half-bad. In a pinch, they work extremely well, particularly for one-crust pies.

P1000670_2

Tofu Pumpkin Pie

Ingredients:

1 16-ounce package of silken tofu, drained

1 15-ounce can unsweetened pumpkin puree

¾ cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground ginger

¼ teaspoon ground cloves

Method:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Blend tofu and pumpkin in a food processor until combined, looking orange. Add sugar and vanilla and blend until well combined. With a rubber spatula, scoop mixture out of food processor bowl and into a medium mixing bowl. Add remaining ingredients and stir by hand until they are well integrated. Pour into 9-inch pie shell. Place pie shell on a baking tray, which goes into the oven.

Bake at 425 for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 325 degrees. Bake for about 45 minutes, until filling is nearly set. You may also notice slight cracks, which is a good indication that filling is set.

Remove from oven and cool about 1 hour. Cover with foil and place in refrigerator until cold, at least one hour. Best served cold.

Other assorted tidbits:

I may be sharp in the kitchen, but I am all thumbs when it comes to setting the table. Home section gals Annie Groer and Jura Koncius are online today at 1 ET for dorks like me, for a Holiday Decorating special.

Tonight's homework assignment:

Make cranberry sauce. It is one of the easiest things on the menu, so easy, in fact, there's no excuse for resorting to the can. You can practically make the sauce while you're catching up on "Seinfeld" reruns.
Here's how: Throw a bag of cranberries into a pot. Add an eight-ounce bottle of maple syrup - not Aunt Jemima but something closer to Vermont style. Squeeze the juice of three oranges right into the pot. If you don't have fresh oranges, add about ¾ cup orange juice. Bring up to a boil, then lower heat and cook on a simmer. Berries will pop and break down. Cook until desired texture. This takes no more than 30 minutes. Cool, then store in fridge in an air-tight container until Thursday.

By kimodo |  November 21, 2005; 10:33 AM ET  | Category:  Desserts , Thanksgiving
Previous: T-Minus 6: Weekend Projects | Next: T-Minus 2: Doing Up the Bird, Where's That Thigh, Anyway?

Comments

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I'll never forget the year my mother, a fabulous baker, accidentally left the sugar out of the pumpkin pie. She was recuperating from a lengthy illness and surgery so we thought she'd lost her baking touch. Fortunately it was a one time incident!

Posted by: Kathryn | November 21, 2005 04:14 PM

One fall my Dad decided to make good use of all the pumpkins. So while we were out for the day he cut them up, roasted the seeds and made several pies. The only thing was he thought all you needed was pumpkin in the pie. So he made pureed pumpkin in a pie shell. We felt really bad that he went to all that trouble for a terrible pie - but it hasn't stopped us teasing him about it for the last 15 years! At least the roasted pumpkin seeds were good.

Posted by: SA | November 22, 2005 07:55 AM

Kim,
I'm trying a pumpkin pie with a praline layer on bottom this year. Any reason I can't make it Wednesday?

Cheers!

Posted by: Megan | November 22, 2005 01:14 PM

Is there anyway to make this recipe without a food processor? I'm a relative kitchen luddite. I have a blender and hand mixer but use these as little as possible. I don't own a food processor. Also how much pumpkin puree is this in cups? I would like to use fresh pumpkin.

Posted by: Madeleine | November 23, 2005 09:55 AM

Megan: Do you mean because Wednesday is too soon? Not at all, dear. Not at all. Keep in fridge after it's cooled, wrapped well in foil.

Posted by: Kim O'Donnel | November 23, 2005 01:12 PM

Madeleine: Use that hand mixer. It might take a little bit of extra "push" getting the tofu to blend, but it's soft, so it will yield. As for the pumpkin measurements, 15 ounces = nearly 2 cups. If you use two cups of your fresh stuff, you'll be fine. Enjoy.

Posted by: Kim O'Donnel | November 23, 2005 01:15 PM

This pie is great! It tastes just like the original but is healthier and quicker to throw together. Thank you, Kim for sharing it with us.

Posted by: Amy | November 25, 2005 11:16 AM

Re: The sugar-free pumpkin pie.

I'm away from home this Thanksgiving, but just got word that Mom forgot the sugar in her pumpkin pie this year. "Something didn't taste right," she said. My brother, who's never made a pie in his life, figured it out. Can she call it a savory pie and serve it for dinner, or should this thing go in the trash?

(She has no excuse, by the way. Plain old forgetfulness.)

Posted by: lori | November 25, 2005 11:24 AM

Lori: How was the pie otherwise, according to bro? Did it taste okay aside from the fact it was sugar-free? Perhaps they could experiment with a little maple syrup topping or some honey...pumpkin actually is naturally sweet, so I'm sure it's not dreadful without the sugar. Another idea: some sauteed fruit on top...or nuts rolled in brown sugar..

Posted by: Kim O'Donnel | November 25, 2005 12:42 PM

Kim -- Thanks for the suggestions. Mom said my brother and his wife whispered a lot about the pie but ate it anyway. "Bland," I hear, was the most-uttered adjective.

She seemed intrigued by the honey and maple syrup options. I'll let you know how it goes. Meanwhile, I think I'll get my own life and stop worrying so much about my mom's dang pumpkin pie.

Posted by: lori | November 25, 2005 05:06 PM

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