One of my favorite pies ever is pecan pie. I have made it at least twenty times, starting off with existing recipes, adjusting and creating my own recipe along the way. To me, this is the perfect pecan pie. It is caramelized, gooey, and soft with a crunchy, flakey, buttery crust.
I find that this recipe is pretty easy, it just takes a little patience. First you make the crust, this is a flakey shortbread with flour, salt, vegan butter and soy milk. If you want it to be more healthy, you can replace the vegan butter by coconut oil. Then you let this sit in the fridge for at least half an hour to allow the gluten to relax. After this, you prepare the crust, pre-bake, let that cool and start on the filling. If you want to speed things up, you can easily make the dough the day before.
The caramel filling is made up of water and sugar and is thickened with the helpings of a generous amount of cornstarch. When you are making the filling, you have to make sure that the mixture gets thick enough before you pour it into the pie crust. Otherwise it might be too runny.
For the crust
2 cups flour
a pinch of salt
3/4 cup vegan butter
1/4 cup cold soy milk (or other cold plant-based milk you have on hand)
For the filling
1 + ⅓ cups pecans, separated
1 1/2 cup water
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
a pinch of salt
3 tbsp cornstarch + 4 tbsp cold water
2 tbsp vegan butter
To make the crust
- In a large mixing bowl, mix together the flour and salt. Then cut the butter into flour mixture, you can do this with a fork or a pastry cutter, until the butter and flour and incorporated. This should create a crumbly texture with no loose flour.
- Pour the cold soy milk into the mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until it forms a ball, try not to overmix.
- Wrap the ball of dough in a clean damp towel and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
- Preheat your oven to 360°F.
- Lightly grease your pie pan. Now take your dough out of the fridge and press it with your fingers into the pie pan. Try to make it as even as you can. Prick the dough a couple times with a fork and bake for 15 minutes, until slightly golden brown. Then take it out and set aside for later use.
To make the filling
- Chop the cup of pecans until you get pea sized pieces. Leave the other 1/4 cup of pecans whole to decorate your pie later on.
- In a medium saucepan, combine the water, brown sugar, white sugar, salt and vanilla extract. Let the mixture simmer on medium heat for a minute or so until the sugar is melted.
- Meanwhile, in a small glass or mixing bowl, mix together the cornstarch and water with a fork until no lumps remain.
- Now raise the temperature of the saucepan to high heat and pour in the cornstarch mixture. Whisk continuously. It should start to thicken. Once it looks like a thick caramel, take the saucepan away from the heat, add the vegan butter and chopped pecans and stir until the butter is melted.
- Now take your pre-baked pie crust and pour in the pecan mixture. Now decorate your pie with the whole pecans and bake for 25 minutes, keeping an eye on it near the end. If the whole pecans on top look darker and toasted, your pie is done.
- Take out of the oven, place on a cooling rack, allow to cool and enjoy.