Saturday, November 10, 2007

Oh My, Pumpkin Pie!

Today FH took Bagel out on a trip so that I could get some cooking done. Thanksgiving is coming up, and I really want Princess and Knuckles to be able to eat pie. I've never made an egg-free milk-free pumpkin pie before. I was able to find recipes without any problem, but I wanted to try them first before I showed up to Thanksgiving dinner with a pumpkin-colored brick of tofu or some other horrible disaster. So the goal today was to bake three different pumpkin pies, and have the kids and neighbors taste-test them and see which one is the favorite.

Pie #1 is from The Allergy Self-Help Cookbook by Marjorie Hurt Jones. It is made in first a food processor, then a saucepan and poured into a prebaked crust, then refrigerated. It uses heavily processed nuts (substituted here with sunflower seeds for the nut-allergic) to give it that creamy, fatty texture. My worries with this recipe were that the sunflower flavor would be overpowering; that it would be more like a pudding pie and would have to be served cold; and that I would lose so much of the filling in all the transfers from container to container that it wouldn't fill the crust. The filling did fill the crust adequately, though, with even a bit to spare.

As you can see, the pie really didn't set up. It was like trying to serve a very thick sauce with a spatula. I really liked the way it tasted, though, although the sunflower taste would take some getting used to. More arrowroot, maybe, or some gelatin, to make it set? I thought three tablespoons of arrowroot wasn't really enough, because three tablespoons has never been enough to get my stir-fry sauce to set up. I don't think I'm going to get another chance to cook before Thanksgiving and try this more-arrowroot theory out though.

Pie #2 is also from The Allergy Self-Help Cookbook. It is a tofu-based pie that is baked, crust and all, in the oven, with the filling made in the food processor. My worry with this pie was that it might, well, taste like tofu. FH really, really doesn't like the taste of soy (except for soy sauce and edamame), so if I make anything out of soy I have to make sure it doesn't have that soy taste. There was too much filling in this recipe for one pie, so if I make this one again, I'll be sure to have a little mini-pie crust or two waiting in the wings. Kids adore little tiny pies, but they'll also settle for licking copious quantities of pie filling out of the bowl of the food processor.

I really liked the texture of this pie, it was much more like real pumpkin pie. It did not taste soy-ey at all, but very creamy.

Both pies got similar ratings from the kids. Most of the kids rated both pies anywhere from 7/10 to 10/10. The adults' definite favorite was Pie #1, despite the fact that it looked like crap. They all agreed that if it were just a bit thicker, it would beat Pie #2 hands down.

Pie #3 is from this recipe (scroll down a couple of recipes for the pie) by Bryanna Clark Grogan. However, Pie #3 did not get made, as the directions say it needs to sit for a day before eating, and you can't keep a bunch of pies just sitting around a house full of kids and husbands and such. Nothing tasty to eat sits there for very long before it starts to have little bite marks out of the front edge.

We also taste-tested four different milk-free hot chocolate mixes, which you can see the remnants behind the pies in the pictures. They don't really look all that different so I didn't bother photographing them. The kids seemed to like them all, although my favorite was the one made with the Better Than Milk powdered soymilk (but without the Oxygen Poliva creamer, which to me added a funny aftertaste to it, like the inside of a cardboard package).