Grain-Free Butternut Squash Pie with Pecan-Crumble Crust

Grain-Free Butternut Squash Pie with Pecan-Crumble Crust

There are too many good recipes to share with you all this month! I usually only post two recipes a week, but this month I just couldn't get everything to fit into that schedule. My options were to ditch a recipe or publish an extra, and well, the answer was clear once we had a bite of this butternut squash pie with pecan crumble crust. 

My good friend had a butternut squash pie making craze last year, and while he seems to now be over that caramelly, cinnamon-y flavor, I'm still stuck on it. 

What I needed though, to really make the ultimate butternut squash pie, was an alternate crust. I've always been partial to graham cracker crusts (the kind you find on many cheesecakes) but wanted to keep this recipe from-scratch and grain-free.

Grain-Free Butternut Squash Pie with Pecan-Crumble Crust

Pondering this crust dilemma brought me to pecans. It wasn't sure pecans would work in place of graham crackers, but I had a hunch. I was nervous about it, putting the pie into the oven. A few friends stopped by and I explained to them it was just an experiment and could go terribly wrong. 

Out of the oven it came and I was, even then, a little nervous. I took pictures, serving everyone else, and then grabbed the last piece for myself, topping it with an oversized dollop of whipped cream.

Grain-Free Butternut Squash Pie with Pecan-Crumble Crust

It was my butternut-pie-making-friend who said it first: a crust made of pecans is like a butternut pie inside of a pecan pie. A custardy filling nestled inside a crunchy, sweet, nutty shell. 

He was right: it was a butternut squash pie inside of a pecan pie. The butter and sugar caramelized in the oven while the pecans toasted, making something so delicious it stole the show, even from the pie filling itself. 

In this pie, crust is no longer just a vehicle for transporting filling. It's a part of the experience, as must as every other ingredient. 

Grain-Free Butternut Squash Pie with Pecan-Crumble Crust

Grain-Free Butternut Squash Pie with Pecan-Crumble Crust

Published December 15, 2017 by
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Serves: 8   |    Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes



Ingredients:


    For the crust:
  • 2 cups pecans 
  • 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar or coconut sugar
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 

  • For the filling:
  • 10 ounces frozen cubed butternut squash, thawed
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar or coconut sugar
  • 1/4 cup wildflower honey
  • 2/3 cup half-and-half 
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt 
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 

  • To serve:
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F, and grease an 9-inch ceramic or glass pie pan .
  2. Put pecans in a food processor and pulse to grind them into a fine crumb. Scrape sides frequently to ensure even chopping. Few larger chunks should remain (several are ok but for the most part you are looking for an even, fine crumb). Scrape pecan crumbs into a bowl, and add sugar and melted butter. Use a spatula to stir until everything is combined and crumb should stick together when squeezed between two fingers. Now, press crumb mixture into prepared pie pan, working it up the sides and into an even layer along the bottom to form a crust. Tip: use the flat bottom of a glass to make a smooth bottom. Make sure there are no gaps or cracks, and then set aside.
  3. In a blender, combine: thawed butternut squash, sugar, honey, half-and-half, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, salt, eggs, melted butter, and vanilla. Puree until completely smooth, scraping sides down as needed. Then, allow mixture to rest for 5 minutes so any air bubbles have time to float to the top.
  4. Pour butternut mixture into prepared pie shell, filling it until almost—but not quite- full (shoot for 90-95% full). Place in oven and bake for 45-55 minutes, until custard filling jiggles slightly in the middle but not at the edges. Turn heat off, and allow pie to cook in oven with the door open for 10-15 minutes. This super slow cooling method will prevent the custard filling from cracking.
  5. While the pie cools, make the whipped cream. Add heavy cream to a bowl and whip with an electric mixture until it beings to hold peaks. Add vanilla, and beat 30 more seconds.
  6. Serve pie with dollops of whipped cream (ice cream would be good as well!).

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Cranberry Pear Tart

Cranberry Pear Tart

Traditional Thanksgiving isn't in the cards for us this year, which is fine because we're not much for celebrating holidays "the traditional way". Traditional is a funny word isn't it? Opting outside is more of a holiday tradition for us--it's what we normally choose to do when we have plenty of time off from work.

Since actual Turkey Day is typically reserved for adventuring, we eat more Thanksgiving fare before and after the holiday, at potlucks and work parties and Friendsgiving celebrations.

Preparing for Friendsgiving is a whole different beast than preparing for a family holiday: the family usually has at least a semi-planned menu, so you know what you’re supposed to bring.  But Friendsgiving (at least the way we do it) is a lot more casual. Everyone brings what they want, a little slice of what Thanksgiving means to them (or whatever they had time to pick up at the store). Both events usually have plenty (err, too much) food, but at Friendsgiving I find there are always a lot more repeats, like four pumpkin pies and three salads and then only one pot of mash potatoes. You've been to one of those potlucks right? You know what I'm talking about.

Cranberry Pear Tart
Cranberry Pear Tart

I was thinking about this very predicament when I started making this tart. You see, I really wanted pumpkin pie (hello, it's pumpkin pie, who doesn't want a slice?!). But I knew there would already be at least one other pumpkin pie. So I decided to go in a whole new direction: something without pumpkin, or pecans, but still perfect for fall. 

This Cranberry Pear Tart? Ding!

Pears don't get the attention that pumpkin gets this time of year, but they deserve a little time in the limelight. This tart, laced with just a hint of cinnamon, maple syrup, and fresh orange zest, is the perfect offbeat dessert for any Thanksgiving potluck, Friendsgiving or other fall get-together.

Something else to love about this Cranberry Pear Tart: it’s pretty much just fruit in a pie crust (whatever pie crust you like, though I use this crust recipe to make it paleo-friendly) which means that it doesn’t have the same super heavy feeling that pecan or pumpkin pies do. Which means.... you can have a slice of each and the Cranberry Pear Tart will round out the trio! 😉

(Ehem. While we are talking about pecan pie, let's talk about pecan pie! My love.)

Cranberry Pear Tart
Cranberry Pear Tart

The other great thing about the fruit-in-crust situation is that it is reallllllly easy to make this tart. Slice up those pears, pop 'em in your crust, and arrange the cranberries with the maple sauce. Cook. Top with whipped cream. Eat. Lick plate. Done. 

Wishing you all safe travels and a happy Thanksgiving, whatever that means for you! 🤗

Cranberry Pear Tart

Published November 16, 2017 by
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Serves: 6   |    Total Time: 60 minutes



Ingredients:

  • 1 batch of pie crust dough ( Try this Paleo pie crust)
  • 2 large Red Crimson pears - about 1/2 pound (D'Anjou or Bosc would also work)
  • Heaping 1/2 cup cranberries, fresh
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch (for Paleo, sub 1 tablespoon arrowroot powder)
  • 1 tablespoon cold water
  • Whipped cream, coconut cream, or ice cream for serving.

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Grease an 8-inch pie pan. Rough pie crust to 1/8 inch thickness using a rolling pin, and fit to pie pan. Trim edges as necessary, and set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the cold water and the corn starch until full combined. Then, whisk in the maple syrup, orange zest, and cinnamon. Add the cranberries and stir so they are coated.
  3. Slice pears in half, and remove core. Then, slice thin (1/8 inch thick) and arrange in prepared pie crust.
  4. Once all pear slices are arranged in crust, arrange cranberries over top, pouring the maple syrup mixture over pears as you go. Use a brush to spread the maple syrup mixture over pears so they are all coated.
  5. Bake for 25-35 minutes, until tart is bubbling, crust is golden, and pears are tender. Serve with whipped cream, coconut cream, or ice cream.

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Crustless Peach & Blackberry Bakewell Tart (Gluten-Free & Paleo)

Crustless Peach & Blackberry Bakewell Tart (Gluten-Free & Paleo)

It is 8pm, and I am just walking out of the climbing gym. My tummy has been rumbling for the last 30 minutes. It is Tuesday, but it feels like Thursday and exhaustion sinks in. I can only blame myself; I stayed up late last night finished season two of the Great British Bake Off (GBBO). 

A soft breeze picks up and that's when it finds me, wraps around me, and gives me a hug: the smell of cinnamon rolls as they bake. Our climbing gym is no more than one block from an industrial bakery, and this happens more than once a week. It's not always cinnamon rolls, though that's what I smell most often. Some days a batch of sourdough fills the air with it's toasty aroma instead, and occasionally I catch a whiff of something I can't quite place. 

Crustless Peach & Blackberry Bakewell Tart (Gluten-Free & Paleo)
Crustless Peach & Blackberry Bakewell Tart (Gluten-Free & Paleo)

My stomach whines again. Can you blame it? Between the GBBO marathons and the ill-timed smell of cinnamon rolls, my subconscious mind wants nothing more than to bake. It will take everything in me to make something "real" for dinner, instead of something cinnamon-y and sweet. 

That was last week (and I did manage to make a real dinner that night!). This week, I'm dealing with the issue at hand: I'm baking! It is a holiday weekend after all. This Bakewell tart is inspired by the famous Mary Berry (host of the GBBO), who is so well known for her Bakewell tart. This version has a few twists, however: I use coconut sugar instead of white sugar, and bake the whole thing with out a crust. For a final touch, fresh fruit is baked right into the tart, giving it color and a summery vibe. Mary Berry probably wouldn't even call this a Bakewell tart, but I'm in love with it. Bring on the seconds (and thirds and fourths!) 

Crustless Peach & Blackberry Bakewell Tart (Gluten-Free & Paleo)

Crustless Peach & Blackberry Bakewell Tart (Gluten-Free & Paleo)

Published July 4, 2017 by
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Serves: 8   |    Total Time: 60 minutes



Ingredients:

  • 150 grams butter, softened
  • 100 grams coconut sugar ground fine
  • 150 grams almond flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 peach
  • 1/4 cup blackberries

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Melt the butter in a thick-bottomed sauce pan. Once fully melted, remove from the heat and stir in the coconut sugar. Then, add the almond flour, a pinch of salt, the egg and almond extract, and stir until combined. Pour into pie plate or tart pan.
  3. Slice the peach in half, and then cut each half into 10 thin slices. Pick up 5 slices at a time and fan them. Place on top of batter, and repeat with the remaining three sets of five slices. Then, place the blackberries around the peaches.
  4. Bake for 35 minutes, until the tart is golden on top. It still make jiggle in the center a small amount. (Tip: check on the tart after 20 minutes, and cover the outside edges with foil is they are browning too fast. This will help it bake more evenly). Allow tart to cool for 10-15 minutes before serving. (Ice cream is a definitely yes!)

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