Friday, April 22, 2011

No-Bake Strawberry Coconut Cream Pie

It all started when I saw this strawberry tart post on a food blog from the homeland I've been following for some time, El Comidista. "I wanted a strawberry tart of my own too!", I said as I threw my hands in the air and stomped my feet, "but I want a vegan one!". Once my temper tantrum subsided, the idea of a vegan strawberry tart retreated to the back of my mind, that is, until I saw some delicious looking strawberries at the Durham Farmer's Market. Beautiful berries in hand, I came up with a way to make a crust and but I was still unsure of how I'd give the filling the right texture. That's when I remembered an intimidating ingredient I'd read about in numerous vegan cookbooks -- agar-agar.

Agar-agar is a substance extracted from algae most commonly used as vegan replacement for gelatin, which is made from collagen found inside animal bones. The main reason I hadn't used it before was that I didn't know where to purchase it for a reasonable price. Thanks to the interwebs, I found out that you can buy it quite cheaply at Asian markets. So drove over to Li Ming's Global Mart, Durham's new and amazing Asian store, and found it in powdered form for about $1.50 per 28 grams. Score. As soon as I got back from Li Ming's I used my agar-agar to make jelly, but I'll save that for another post.

Thanks to the agar-agar, the pie filling had exactly the texture I'd hoped it would. As for it's flavor, it's not intensely sweet so if that's how you prefer your desserts you'll have to add a bit more maple syrup. The crust is so tasty I could eat it on its own, and maybe I will some day, formed into bars or rolled into balls. It also holds up to slicing, although as with any pie, the crust may crumble off the first slice. While this pie may look as decadent as the tart I was inspired by, it's not. However, having a relatively healthy pie on hand isn't so bad. I used it as an excuse to eat a slice for my birthday breakfast. Why? Because I'll only turn a quarter of a century once.

No-Bake Strawberry Coconut Cream Pie
Inspired by El Comidista's Tarta Sin Horno de Fresas, Crema, y Queso (No Oven Strawberry, Cream and Cheese Tart)  
Makes 1 pie

For the crust
  • 1 1/2  cups almonds or other nut of choice
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 4 large pitted dates
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup dried unsweetened coconut
  • 3/4 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
For the filling
  • About 15 medium strawberries, or as many as you need to top the pie, stems removed and halved lengthwise
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 teaspoons maple syrup or to taste
  • 1 lb 4 oz / 567 g silken tofu
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened plain almond milk
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons agar-agar powder or 2 1/2 tablespoons of agar-agar flakes
  • Optional: 1-2 tablespoons unsweetened shredded coconut for garnish
1.  Toss the almonds and the shredded coconut in the food processor and whiz until the almonds have been reduced to very small pieces. Add the rest of the crust ingredients and process until a uniform mixture has formed. Transfer into a 9 inch pie pan and press into a uniform layer along the bottom and sides of the dish using damp hands. Let the crust chill in the fridge until the filling is ready for it.
2.   Combine the strawberries, lemon juice and 2 teaspoons maple syrup in a bowl, stirring to make sure the strawberries are evenly coated. Set aside.
3.  After rinsing out your food processor, toss in the tofu, lemon zest, vanilla, salt, 1/4 cup maple syrup and coconut oil and process until creamy. Bring the almond milk to a boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce the heat to a simmer and mix in the agar agar. Cook whisking continuously for 3 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat, add in the tofu mixture and continue to whisk for another 3 minutes. Pour the mixture into the crust.
4.  Drain the strawberries and arrange artfully (or not) them on the top of the pie. Optionally, sprinkle the top with some shredded coconut. Cover the pie and place it in the fridge for at least 1 hour before enjoying it.

    1 comment:

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