Somewhere in-between rich and decadent pumpkin cheesecake and sweet soft pumpkin pie lies a portal to the heavens. This. This pie, is that portal. Like beautiful harp music on your tongue, it’s perfectly spiced, smooth, rich, and creamy while not being overly indulgent, even the crust sings with flavour, sweetened spiced graham cracker crumbs with pecans….you’re going to want the whole pan…..and it’s vegan! (assuming you use vegan cream cheese, which you should.) vegan. let’s say that again, vegan. Oh, and super simple, did i mention that? i don’t think i did.
280g | 10oz / a little over 2 ⅔ cups graham cracker crumbs
60g | 2oz / ½ cup chopped pecans
1.7g | ½ tsp cinnamon powder
50g | ¼ cup light brown sugar
.6g | ⅛ tsp ginger
.6g | ⅛ tsp garam masala
50g/60ml | ¼ cup refined coconut oil or ghee
680g | 24oz cream cheese (dairy or non-dairy) softened
850g | 30oz (2 small cans) pumpkin puree
400g/ml | 1 ¾ cups water
16g | 2 Tbsp tapioca starch
75g | ½ cup whole raw cashews
10g/ml | 2 tsp vanilla extract
55g | 5 ½ Tbsp VeganEgg (by Follow Your Heart)
150g | ¾ cup white granulated sugar
240g | 1 ¼ cup demerara sugar
3g | ½ tsp fine salt
3g | 1 tsp ginger powder
.6g | 4 whole allspice berries
.6g | 6 whole cloves
5g | 1 ½ tsp cinnamon powder
1.8g | ½ tsp mace powder
1g | 4 green cardamom pods
Preheat oven to 350F
For the crust:
Grease a 9”x13” baking dish
Finely chop pecans until they’re a similar size as the graham crackers crumbs, either in a food processor or by sort of smashing and chopping with a knife
Combine all ingredients for crust and pulse in food processor or mix by hand until thoroughly combined
Press crumbs into baking dish as evenly as possible, going about ⅔ of the way up the sides (mixture is pretty loose and crumbly)
For the filling:
Grind all your spices into a fine powder
Blend spices, salt, vanilla, cashews and water until totally smooth
Add in starch and half the pumpkin, blend until nice and smooth, then add in VeganEgg while blending and blend until thoroughly incorporated
Whip cream cheese in stand mixer or with hand mixer and add in remaining pumpkin while mixing, continue to whip until smooth and evenly mixed
Add in your blender mixture (about ¼ of it at a time) and whipping/mixing each addition until incorporated
Pour into crust and smooth out top (it helps, if you want a more flat top, to sort of heap it toward the middle)
Place into oven and bake for 1 hour and 30 minutes, turning a quarter turn every half hour to ensure even cooking until the top has darkened and the pie feels somewhat firm (and doesn’t jiggle much when shaken), a knife or stick inserted into middle should come out pretty clean
Allow to cool to room temp before placing in the fridge for at least 4 hours (preferably overnight) to chill and finish firming up
Serve as is, or top with whipped cream and/or toasted, chopped pecans and a dusting of cinnamon
Will keep for about a week in the fridge (the crust is best the first 2 days)
I’m dividing this up a little for the crust and filling so it’s a little easier to talk about. The crust is pretty simple, graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar, finely chopped pecans, cinnamon, ginger, garam masala, and some coconut oil (or ghee) to hold everything together. This gets pressed into your (greased) baking dish and it’s done. Easy peasy.
You’ll want to process (or mix by hand) until the oil is evenly coating the crumbs, it will sort of look like damp sand, like above.
Then you just dump the crumbs into your (again, greased) baking dish and smoosh/scoot/press it around to about 2/3 up the sides, this doesn’t have to be super even and fancy perfect, this isn’t that sorta dish. The crust is very loose and crumbly at this point, but it will firm up quite nicely with baking, so don’t fret. Just do your best to get it around even and press together as much as you can. The reason we only go up 2/3 of the way is so the crust is completely covered by the filling, that way we don’t have to worry about it burning during the long bake. [we’re watching out for you]
The filling is pretty easy to put together too, pumpkin puree (obviously), sugar (white granulated AND demerara for depth,) some cashews for creaminess, tapioca starch for thickening, vanilla for richness and to mellow the spices a tad. Cream cheese (not pictured above, because, well…it’s not that exciting to photograph), of course, vegan if you’re doing this vegan (duh). we have our pretty classic blend of spices, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, clove, instead of nutmeg we’ve opted for mace to provide some much needed lightness and floral qualities, and added some green cardamom to enhance the light notes further with their clean perfumed quality.
A possibly unfamiliar ingredient used here is the VeganEgg, an absolutely incredible product from the folks at Follow Your Heart. (btw i’m not affiliated with them or sponsored by them in any way, or whatever, it’s just good stuff) This takes the role eggs would normally fill, adding a rich custard-y quality to everything and giving us that firmer rich texture we’re seeking. It’s very reasonably priced, and pretty easy to find in US grocery stores. If you’re overseas and can’t get it (i’m not sure where all it’s available) you should be able to get pretty similar results subbing some blended silken firm tofu and reducing the water some. I’ll try doing it that way next time and report back.
Stuff gets blended together, moving from most liquid to thicker basically, to make your task a little easier (it’s really very easy all said and done) and then sort of unceremoniously plopped into the crust. Be careful when spreading it around to not accidentally rip up your crust, and if you want a flatter top, sort of hump it up toward the middle (but really, it’s not gonna win beauty contests, so who cares?)
Spread it out and be done with it. This is a rustic sorta dish that definitely won’t TASTE rustic. The sweetness is very reserved, the richness tempered with spice and the added pumpkin, it’s complete divinity with very little work, and that’s just part of the amazing beauty.
The whole shebang gets baked until the top is nicely darkened and the filling is pretty set, it shouldn’t jiggle loosely in the pan, should bounce back when pressed and a knife/pick/stick inserted into the middle should come out clean (or as clean as a cheesecake would anyway.) Now it’s very important to allow this too cool on a rack (preferably) until it’s cool enough to refrigerate, then covered and place in the fridge for at LEAST 4 hours to chill and finish setting up. This is very important (had to repeat that part) as it needs time to develop the lovely texture and it’s a dish best served chilled.
You can serve it up all plain jane, top it with whipped cream, cinnamon powder, toasted chopped pecans….or all of the above (our choice) and it will be delightful whatever you do. It’s friggin awesome. And easy! So, no excuses, go make some and nom it down before anyone knows you even have it. [we approve this directive]