You and I know the best part of Thanksgiving. Two words. Pumpkin. Pie.
You know what’s not the best part? All those poor souls (The Professor included) who can’t eat gloriously smooth and creamy pumpkin pie because it’s damn near impossible to make it taste good without half-and-half or cream or cow’s milk in one form or the other.
This year I aim to remedy this situation with tacha. Tacha Tacha What What?!!
Tacha is pumpkin or other winter squash that is simmered for hours on end in a cinnamon syrup until it completely falls apart and becomes almost like a pudding. You scoop it out into shallow bowls and eat it with thick dollops of lightly sweetened crema. It is fantastic soul food that is perfect on its own, but you know me, I can’t leave a good thing alone so I thought…..what if I turned it into…..PIE!!!
First things first, however, making the tacha. The foundation of good tacha is piloncillo. Piloncillo is sugar cane juice that is dried into solid form. It comes in cones of different sizes or in blocks. You can find it at Mexican markets or online. For this recipe we are using the piloncillo median or medium cones. If you can’t find the piloncillo you can substitute dark brown sugar.
To make the syrup dissolve the piloncillo in water then add a few sticks of canela or cinnamon, the zest and juice of an orange and the pumpkin slices.
We want the pumpkin to stay in nice, whole slices so we aren’t going to cook it as much as we would if we were making true tacha, about 15 minutes will do. After we take the pumpkin out we will continue to boil the liquid until it becomes thick and flavorful, about 35-40 more minutes.
In the meantime we can make the dough and assemble our tart.
Lay the pumpkin in a pretty pattern.
Fold the sides up over the pumpkin, pour some of that delicious, thick syrup over the top and bake. Serve the pie warm, room temperature, or cold with the remaining syrup and whipped coconut cream or lightly sweetened whipped cream (which obviously is not dairy free).
Extra-virigin coconut oil is dairy-free and makes for delicious crust but does not make the easiest dough to work with. This is not a dough that can be made in advance and kept in the refrigerator like you would with a butter pastry. The coconut oil will become very dry, crumbly, and hard to work with if left more than an hour in the fridge.
- 1 small pie pumpkin or other winter squash (about 2 pounds)
- 2 medium-sized (mediano) piloncillo cones or 1 cup dark brown sugar
- Zest and juice from 2 oranges
- 2 sticks canela or cinnamon
- 1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin coconut oil, cut into small pieces.
- 1 large egg
- Turbinado sugar, for sprinkling
- Whipped cream or ice cream
- For the filling, peel and seed the pumpkin or squash and slice into 1-inch thick slices.
- Combine 6 cups of water and piloncillo in a pot large enough to hold the pumpkin and bring to a boil, stirring until piloncillo dissolves. Add orange zest and juice, canela, and pumpkin and simmer until pumpkin is just tender, about 15 minutes.
- Remove pumpkin to a large plate and increase heat to medium-high, bringing to a boil. Boil until liquid has thickened to a maple syrup consistency and has been reduced to about 1 cup, about 35 minutes. Strain and let cool.
- To make the dough, combine flour, salt, and sugar in a medium bowl. Add the coconut oil and toss the pieces in the flour mixture to coat.
- Using a pastry cutter or your fingers work the oil into the flour until it resembles small pebbles. Add 1/4 cup of ice water and gently work that into the dough with your hands.
- Squeeze a handful of dough in one hand, if it doesn't easily hold together, add more water 1 tablespoon at a time until it does. Gather the dough into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap. Press down to a disk shape and let chill in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.
- Heat oven to 400°F and arrange a rack in the bottom. Cover a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
- On a lightly-floured surface, roll dough out into a circle about 1/4-inch thick and 14-inches wide. Roll the dough up over the rolling pin and transfer to the parchment-covered baking sheet, letting the dough hang over the sides.
- Place the pumpkin slices in a decorative patter in the center of the dough. Pour half the syrup over the pumpkin and fold the dough up over the pumpkin creating a 2-inch border, pinching the dough together in four or five spots to make sure it holds together.
- Beat the egg with a tablespoon or two of water and brush over the border of the dough. Sprinkle with turbinado sugar.
- Bake until crust is golden brown and pumpkin is very tender, about 45 minutes. Let cool at least 30 minutes before slicing and serving with whipped cream or ice cream and the remaining syrup.