Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Delicious and Mostly Raw Lemon Cream Pie (gluten-free, nut-free, paleo, no-bake, vegan)


Ok, so first off, I LOVE lemon desserts -- funny, I know since I have not shared any on this blog at all until today. For several years lemon meringue pie was one of my 'specialties'. I would make it often for family celebrations and holidays. Lemon curd has been a great love of mine for many years -- the more tart the better. I have tasted many lemon curd tarts and pies from many bakeries and restaurants, and learned to make them professionally at an excellent bakery in Toronto where I once worked. Today's recipe however is not for a lemon curd tart -- it's for an absolutely delicious lemon CREAM tart which I prepared recently for a family party. And if that's not different enough, it's for a nearly RAW lemon cream tart!

RAW, as in uncooked ingredients, whole foods and a no-heat recipe. RAW as is in Really Awesome Wonderful. 
  Ok so, true story, this pie is AMAZING. Everyone who tastes it swoons and asks for the recipe. From crust to filling this Raw Lemon Cream Pie is full of bold flavor and texture. I started by making a zesty raw vegan lemon curd by sweetening some lemon juice with honey and maple syrup, thickening it with chia seeds and flaxmeal. If you don't like creamy pies (or coconut) you could make the lemon curd part of this recipe, thicken it a bit more with more chia seeds and flaxmeal (or for a really thick pie you could add some agar flakes or a stabilizer like xanthan gum) and use the raw lemon curd as your pie filling instead. 

 

Though the tart lemon flavor is more pure in the raw lemon curd, I actually prefer the creamy version -- I could get lost in the silky texture and flavor. I transformed the raw lemon curd by beating in some coconut whipped cream...


So what about the raw crust? 



One of the main reasons that this recipe is one of my very first raw dessert experiments on this blog is that many, or perhaps most, raw desserts rely heavily on nuts. I'm allergic to nuts. I am not allergic to coconut though so bring it on! This crust is soft yet sturdy and has a lovely coconut flavor. Be sure to use the dates and chia seeds my recipe calls for as they act like glue to bind the crust together and hold its shape. After the crust chills out in the freezer it will stay solid, even if you use a springform type pan or tart shell with removable sides. 

I love this crust so much. I keep using variations of it in new recipes that I will share with you soon. It's impossibly healthy and easy. Just blend some dates, coconut and chia together with a touch of maple syrup and the neutral oil of your choice (mild evoo or coconut oil will work well), press into a pan and refrigerate. How fool proof is that?! If you don't want to make this pie I would still suggest blending up and eating the crust straight as a healthy snack or crumbling it up as a cereal (which I have been doing a lot lately as it reminds me of Harvest Crunch cereal -- a childhood favorite).

However you slice it, this pie is a winner. There are two ways to enjoy it. The creamy filling solidifies in the freezer so this pie can be enjoyed like an icebox pie for a denser chilled experience, or transfer it to your fridge for an hour before serving and it becomes silky smooth and creamy. If I were you I would eat half of this pie frozen solid, then transfer the leftovers to your fridge. I prefer the pie after it defrosts a bit in the fridge as the flavor is more intense that way but I think most would prefer the frozen texture, especially for easy serving.

So why do I love this pie so much? Well,what's not to love about a delicious and creamy no-bake pie? Sometimes a girl just doesn't want to turn on the oven. The ingredients are really healthy too and thanks to the no-heat approach of this recipe the beneficial enzymes of each healthy ingredient remain intact. Amazingly this pie is grain-free, gluten-free, refined-sugar-free, dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soy-free, paleo and vegan! I know, I know, 'what's left'? But trust me and make this great pie soon. 

Traditional lemon tarts or pies are definitely NOT a healthy dessert. They are typically loaded with cups of white sugar, countless egg yolks and butter, all piled into a crust full of butter and white flour -- can you say stomach-ache and sugar crash? As much as I love the taste of real lemon curd, it does not love my body back. All that sugar and dairy is a gut-rencher for me. This pie on the other hand is delicious, deceptively healthy and luxurious and I felt totally great after eating it. Make it for your next holiday celebration or just make it for no reason at all! Be sure to have a few friends over as this pie will serve a crowd. A very happy crowd.






Raw Pie Crust
Makes enough crust for 1x9” pie crust
  • 3/4 cups pitted Sayer dates
  • dash coarse sea salt
  • 2 cups (reduced fat) shredded coconut
  • 1 tbsp evoo
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tbsp maple  syrup (or sub agave nectar to make raw)
Combine all ingredients in food processor until crumbly.
Pour crumbly mixture into a pie pan and press into the bottom and sides evenly with your hands or the back of a spoon.
Store in freezer for 15 minutes before filling.


Raw Lemon Curd
(Step 1 of Raw Lemon Cream Pie)
 
Makes Step 1 of Raw Lemon Cream Pie
Part I:
  • 2/3 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tbsp ground flax
  • 2 cups boiling water
Combine water, flax and chia in a bowl. Let gel about 20 minutes.


Juice your lemons in the meantime (3 and 1/2 lemons made me 2/3 cup of juice). Grab your food processor. Add the lemon juice.
Part II: 
  • 2 tbsp raw honey(or sub agave nectar to make raw or maple to make it vegan)
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup (or sub agave nectar to make raw)
  • dash coarse sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp of fresh lemon zest
Add Part II ingredients to the juice in the blender and blend on high to combine until frothy.
Part III:
  • flax-chia goop
  • food processor mixture
Add the goop into the food processor and blend on high for a few minutes.


The mixture should now be slightly thickened and opaque. Strain it into a bowl. Discard the flax and chia goopiness your strainer catches. Cover the strained mixture with tinfoil and refrigerate a few hours or overnight (I did overnight).




Raw Lemon Cream Pie Filling
Step 2
Makes Step 2 of Raw Lemon Cream Pie
Part I:
  • Prepared lemon goop from part 1
  • 1/2 of the thick Cream skimmed off the top of a 400ml can organic coconut milk, chilled (in fridge) at least 24 hours to separate  (I use Thai Kitchen’s Organic Full Fat, do NOT use reduced fat coconut milk)
  • 1.5 tbsp maple syrup (or sub agave nectar to make raw)
  • pinch coarse sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp evoo
Chill a metal mixing bowl in the freezer for five minutes. Open the chilled can of coconut milk and scoop out the cream from the top, leaving the liquid in the can. Add the cream to the chilled bowl. Add the other ingredients and beat on high with an electric mixer until mixture resembles whipped cream. Transfer half the mixture to another bowl. Add the lemon good to the original bowl and beat together on high speed. Gently blend in the remaining cream to the mixture 1 tbsp at a time.
Part II:
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
Add the chia seeds and beat until the mixture is creamy and foamy. Put the bowl in thee freezer.
Part III:
  • 4-5 tbsp liquid Creamed Coconut (I use Let’s Do Organic Creamed Coconut)
  • 1 squeeze lemon juice
  • 1 tsp maple syrup (or sub agave nectar to make raw)
Place the sealed package of creamed coconut in a bowl of hot water for 5 minutes until the mixture liquefies. Open the package and pour 4 or 5 tbsp of the creamed coconut into the bowl of frothy lemon mixture from freezer. Add the lemon juice and maple and beat the mixture on high speed until with and creamy (not super thick). Taste! Add extra maple if not sweet enough or more lemon juice if not lemony enough.
Pour mixture into your frozen pie crust and place the pie in a level spot in your freezer to set (should take an hour or two).
Top the now chilled pie with fresh coconut whipped cream and extra lemon zest and serve. Get the Coconut Whipped Cream recipe here.