I’ve been there. Trying to make a vegan pecan pie that holds together, with the pecans floating in sweet suspension, somewhere between gel and custard. It comes out of the oven, and you can almost taste the toasty pecans, the caramel, the crust. You let it sit for a few hours, call your friends, tell them you’ve created the perfect pecan pie. You write the tabloids. You quit your job and wait for the pecan pie cash to start rolling in. And then you slice into it, and oh my god, what have you done?
Everything oozes everywhere! It’s a veritable brown rice syrup massacre. Your cats move out, no one will speak to you (after all, there’s agar agar in your hair). It’s just you and this crumbled oozy mess of pecans in what must be a pie plate.
But wait, it doesn’t have to be that way! I am the ghost of pecan past, and we can change all that. You can have a perfect pecan pie. A custardy pecan pie. A pecan pie that demands respect, that garners praise. With buttery hints of maple, a glossy top and caramelly insides. A virtually perfect pecan pie!
The secret is twofold: an easy caramel made with all the usual sugary suspects. And then, some pureed tofu with a little cornstarch, to create the thick custard. For all you tofu skeptics out there: don’t fear the tofu here. No one will know. I should write that again in all caps. NO ONE WILL KNOW. I’ve fed it to farmers in Nebraska who have never even heard the word “vegan” and they didn’t know.
In the picture we have the pecan pie in an 11 inch tart pan, but it works just as well in a pie plate! So try it either way…this is the pecan pie that won’t let you down.
Variation: For a Salted Maple Pecan Pie, sprinkle 1/2 a teaspoon coarse sea salt over the top of the cooled pie.
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup non-hydrogenated margarine
6 oz extra firm silken tofu (1/2 of a tetra pack)
1/4 cup cold unsweetened plain non-dairy milk
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups pecan halves
Prepared Single Pastry Crust, pressed into a tart pan or pie plate (no need to parbake)
First we’re going to make a caramel. In a 2 quart sauce pan, mix together sugars and maple syrup. Heat over medium heat, stirring often with a whisk. Once small bubbles start rapidly forming, stir pretty constantly for about 10 minutes. The mixture should become thick and syrupy. It shouldn’t be boiling too fiercely, if it starts climbing the walls of the pan in big bubbles then lower the heat a bit.
Add the margarine, and stir to melt. Turn the heat off, transfer mixture to a mixing bowl. In the meantime, prepare the rest of the filling, working quickly so that the caramel doesn’t completely set.
Crumble the tofu into a blender or food processor, along with the milk, cornstarch and salt. Puree until completely smooth, scraping down the sides of the blender to make sure you get everything.
Preheat oven to 350 F.
With the caramel still warm in teh mixing bowl, add in the tofu mixture and the vanilla, and mix well. Fold in the pecans to incorporate.
Transfer to prepared pie crust and bake for 40 minutes. The pie is going to be somewhat jiggly, but it should appear to be set.
Let cool for a few hours, slice and serve! No cheating and pulling pecans off the pie.