Thanksgiving Edition: Mini Pecan Pies

A very happy Thanksgiving to everyone.
To those who celebrate it this side of the pond and everywhere,
I wish you a happy day with friends, family, and loved ones. 

I am a big fan of the culinary holiday with many fond memories of spending time with my family and watching the Food Network after binge-watching the Thanksgiving Day Parade. Now, we have new memories of traveling and London life. Last year, Jeff and I spent Thanksgiving in Munich drinking mulled wine and seeing living history.

This year, we are staying at home and hosting our first “Friendsgiving.”

Hosting friends for dinner is one of my most missed memories of Texas. Two years ago, I hosted my first Thanksgiving with my parents and sister as a newlywed. I made a red wine basted turkey, Brussels sprouts salad, and my mom’s famous Kahlua yams. But for the life of  me, I cannot remember what pie I put together. I have a feeling it was my favorite Apple and Pear Pie with a Pecan Crust, but since my husband has voiced his preference for Pecan and Pumpkin, fruit pies are a distant and fond memory.

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After doing some research, I have found that Pecan Pie is most traditional in Texas or the southern states. The first piece of evidence of this praline-flavored delicacy is found in the early 1800s in Alabama, but the first recipe found in literature is dated in 1886. It did not, however, become popular until 1940 when The Joy of Cooking published the basic formula in the bestselling cookery book.

There is another theory for the pie that it actually originated in New Orleans after the French settled and discovered the pecan nut. But that sounds like the French trying to take credit for an American staple, so I don’t buy it.

In trying to experiment with lightening the recipe, I have found a vegan version. This may be a travesty for the no-holds-barred holiday, but when calories abound, it can’t hurt to have a little reprieve from the heavy, sleep-inducing dessert.

Check out my recipe adapted from Vegan Richa and Namely Marly for your holiday finale.

Mini Pecan Pie Bites
makes 12 cupcakes 
adapted from Vegan Richa (crust) and Namely Marly (filling)

Ingredients for Gingerbread Crust:
3/4 cup shredded coconut
1 1/2 cup oats, milled and blitzed
3/4 cup gluten-free flour
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
1 1/2 tbsp molasses
1/3 cup honey
2 tbsp almond milk

Directions:
1) Put together all of the dry ingredients in a big bowl and mix thoroughly.
2) In a small saucepan, combine the coconut oil, molasses, and honey. Let them heat gently so they combine completely and make it easier to combine with the dry ingredients.
3) Mix the liquid with the dry mixture completely and add the milk slowly just until it all comes together as a “dry sand mixture.”

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* * * * *

Ingredients for Pecan Pie:
5 tbsp unsalted butter
1 cup light brown sugar
3/4 cup honey
4 tbsp ground arrowroot
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp dark rum or cognac (whatever you have on hand)
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup extra firm silken tofu
2 cups pecans, toasted

Directions: 
1) Preheat your oven to 176 degrees Celsius (350 degrees Fahrenheit). Line a cupcake pan with liners or spray with cooking spray. Bake the pie crust for about 5-7 minutes to firm it and turn it lightly golden.
2) In a saucepan, combine the butter, brown sugar, honey, arrowroot, and salt. Bring the mixture to a boil, and then reduce the heat to a simmer for a minute. Take the mixture off the heat and add the rum and vanilla. Stir to combine,
3) In a blender or food processor, blend the tofu until it’s completely smooth. Pour the heated mixture in the blender and pulse a couple times to combine completely. Add the chopped and toasted pecans, but make sure to reserve some for the topping.
4) Pour the mixture in your prepared cupcake tin and decorate each top with the reserved pecans.
5) Bake for about 35-40 minutes until the edges are set. If the middle is a little jiggly, that’s okay. The heat will carry over and make it set. Allow it to cool before serving. Enjoy!

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What are your favorite Thanksgiving desserts?

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