Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Creamy Dreamy Dairy-Free Lemon Pie

This recipe was born of a craving.  I was craving a cold, tart, lemony treat.  I wanted something like a lemon bar, but creamier, cheese-cakier.  I didn't want to use eggs (lemon bars are loaded with them) and I didn't want to spend my whole pay-check on cashews for a nut-based "cheeze" cake.  Also, honestly, I didn't want all of the calories that come along with nut-based desserts.  Oh yeah, and I didn't want to heat up my kitchen.  The solution?  Silken tofu.  Now before you poo-poo this idea, consider that silken tofu is cold, creamy, nearly flavourless, and cheap.  Even the non-GMO stuff is cheap, and you HAVE TO get that if you're going for soy.  It's also high in protein, calcium and iron.  If you have a soy allergy/aversion, I apologize that this one is not for you.  Aside from a minor (major) soy-milk-in-my-coffee addiction, I don't use a lot of it either.  If you're alright with soy, however,  today is your lucky freakin' day.  This dessert is wonderfully sweet and satisfying, and while I wouldn't go so far as to call it a health food, it's pretty stinkin' nutritious.  I made it for four groups of people in a two-week period and received more praise than a baptist church on Sunday.  

I've mentioned chia on this site a few times, but what I haven't mentioned is that it absorbs an incredible amount of liquid.  In the case of this dessert, chia is used for exactly that property.  If you combine silken tofu and lemon juice, for example, it will emulsify briefly, but will separate after sitting for a while.  Adding chia to the mixture ensures that you will receive a uniform consistency that has staying power.  It has the added benefit of adding lift, texture, and nutritional punch.  You can leave the seeds whole if you like a tapioca-ey texture, or grind them if you'd prefer something smoother.  For more info on the nutritional benefits, click here.  
Using Ground Chia Seeds
Using Whole Chia Seeds
Finally, a note on the crust.  I love raw desserts, and I love the classic crust combo of walnuts and dates.  I do find, however, that it can be a bit soft and boring.  While creating the recipe for this Frozen Fauxmage Mango and Beet Torte, I stumbled upon a discovery that would change my no-bake dessert-making life forever:  adding crisped rice cereal to the crust.  Hot damn.  It's so simple and silly, but it adds an irresistible lightness and crunch to your crust.   Dooooo it. 

INGREDIENTS - Serves 8 to 10
Prep time:  About 20 minutes

1 cup walnuts
3/4 cup pitted dates
1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1.5 cups crisped rice (cocoa or regular)
pinch sea salt

2 packages Mori-Nu Firm Silken Tofu
1/3 cup + 1 tbsp pure maple syrup
1/3 cup + 1 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
3 tbsp chia (ground or whole as per your texture preference)
1 tbsp lemon zest (optional)
1/4 tsp turmeric powder (optional - to create a more yellow tint)

  • Combine the crust ingredients, minus the crisped rice, in the bowl of a food processor and process until crumbly.  Add the crisped rice and pulse until incorporated.  You should be able to squeeze it in your hand and form a ball.  If it's not sticky enough, try adding a few more dates, or a bit of coconut oil.
  • Press crust mixture into a 9 inch pie pan or equivalent.
  • Place the custard ingredients in the bowl of the food processor and process until smooth - about two minutes.  Taste and adjust for sweetness / lemony-ness.  Please note that crust is quite sweet, so don't go overboard on sweetening the filling as the two balance each other out.
  • Pour custard into crust.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.
  • Serve with fresh or frozen berries if desired ~

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