Friday, November 26, 2010

Rum-Spiked Pumpkin Pie with Candied Pecans

Ok, ok, so I know Thanksgiving was yesterday and probably the last thing you want to think about is more pie...but hey, this one has rum in it.  If you need a little hair o' the dog for your food and alcohol hangovers, why not kill two birds with one stone and make this? 

A quick note on cooking with alcohol: there are some alcohol snobs out there who claim that you should never cook or bake with alcohol that you wouldn't enjoy drinking.  Now this might not phase anyone swilling Bankers Club vodka or wine in a box, but to others who fork out a little more money for the good stuff (or at least moderately palatable stuff) it creates a question: do I buy good alcohol if all I'm going to do is dump it into something I'm eating?  My answer is no.  Whether your making rum pumpkin pie, vodka sauce, or deglazing a pan with white wine, pretty much any old alcohol will do without sacrificing taste too much.  The only exception to this rule for me is using beer to make chili - I always use a good beer because the taste shines through the spices better - but pretty much anything else you can get away with cheap swill.  Of course, then you're left with the dilemma of what to do with the rest of the bottle if you only use a little bit of the liquor for whatever you're making, so just use your judgment.  I used Admiral Nelson spiced rum for this pie - the Admiral is Captain Morgan's lesser-respected but conversely higher-ranked shipmate.  This is pretty cheap rum, but now I have nearly a full bottle left over after my baking was through.  Not being one to be wasteful (there are sober people in 3rd world countries that would be happy to have that liquor), I do plan on drinking the rest of the bottle....probably this its entirety.  It does concern me somewhat that the last time I hung out with the Admiral, people's clothing came public...but drink it I shall, consequences be damned.  Sometimes you've just gotta make sacrifices for the sake of conservation and frugality.

But enough about my functional alcoholism....PIE!

Rum-Spiked Pumpkin Pie with Candied Pecans
*makes 2 pies

Note: if you're making both the pie and the whipped topping, you'll use an entire 16oz package of firm tofu, so once you measure out what you need for the pie, you don't have to measure what you need for the topping because it'll be whatever is left over)



2 Pie crusts (I'd post a recipe, but I'm still working out the kinks in mine so use a recipe you like; I recommend the cookbook The Joy of Vegan Baking for a good one, or use store-bought pie crust if you like)
1 15oz. can of pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix; just plain ol' canned pumpkin)
1 cup firm tofu, pureed (the kind packed in water; 1 cup is about 2/3 of a package)
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons non-dairy butter, melted (I use Earth Balance)
1 1/2 cups soy creamer or plain soymilk
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
pinch of cloves
pinch of nutmeg (if you can get whole nutmeg and grate it yourself, it's great here)
pinch salt
2 tablespoons spiced rum
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons arrowroot or cornstarch

Whipped Topping:

1/2 cup firm tofu, pureed
1 cup soy creamer or soymilk
1/4 cup + 2 teaspoons confectioners sugar
1 teaspoon arrowroot
2 teaspoons spiced rum
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt

Candied Pecans:

1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons non-dairy butter
1/8 t salt

Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees.  If you're making your own pie crusts, pre-bake them for 10 minutes in the oven - cover them with foil and put dried beans in them to make them hold their shape, or use pie weights.  If you're using store-bought crusts, follow the instructions on the package; dough crusts will need pre-baking; graham cracker crusts may not.  Remove crusts from oven.
Make the pie filling first.  In a large blender or food processor (a food processor works better), puree the 1 cup tofu and arrowroot/cornstarch.  Measure your tofu by breaking chunks off of the block and kind of squooshing it into a measuring cup until it's mashed down in there.  Try to be as precise as possible, but it doesn't have to be perfect.  After the tofu mixture is pureed and smooth, add the brown sugar and non-dairy butter and puree again.  Add the soy creamer/soymilk, spices, rum, vanilla extract, and canned pumpkin and puree until very smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides a few times to make sure everything is incorporated.  Pour the mixture into the pie shells.  Bake at 375 for 10 minutes, and then without opening your oven or disturbing the pies, turn the heat down to 300 degrees and bake for another 35-45 minutes until the outer edges of the pies are lightly browned and set.  The middle of the pies may still be slightly goo-ey; they will set up more as the pies cool.  Cool pies completely.

While your pies are baking, make the whipped topping.  Using a small blender, puree all ingredients until very smooth and creamy.  Chill for several hours in the refrigerator.

To make the candied pecans, melt the butter and brown sugar, and salt over medium heat.  Add the pecans and cook for 5 minutes until the mixture gets clump-y and sticky.  Remove pecans from heat and dump onto a plate lined with aluminum foil and sprayed lightly with cooking spray.  Spread the pecans out a bit so they will cool faster.  Cool completely.  The nuts may cool and stick into a single mass; just break them apart once they are cool enough to handle.  **These also make great candy for snacking on!

Once your pies are cooled, spoon dollops of the whipped topping onto your pie and sprinkle with chopped pecans.  Serve immediately or chill until you're ready to eat.  Eat while passing around the bottle of Admiral Nelson - classy!

That's it for now; hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving!

<3 The Fur Ninja

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