I had not considered adding another pumpkin pie recipe this year. I mean out of the eleven pie recipes on this site, three of them are pumpkin so clearly that subject has been covered but there I was last night grabbing another can of pumpkin at the store, my mind all aflutter with visions of a dairy-free pumpkin pie dancing in my head.
Let’s Talk Piloncillo
Piloncillo, also known as panela is raw sugar that has been formed into cones and has the caramel notes of brown sugar but without the molasses. It is very common in Mexico and used to sweeten everything from drinks to tamales to candy. Whole pumpkin cooked in a piloncillo syrup is very common this time of year and so I started thinking about how good it would be in pumpkin pie and well, that was essentially that. A side note: if you can’t find piloncillo you can substitute 2/3 cup dark brown sugar, don’t stress.
What the heck?!! This stuff is rock hard!
Here’s the thing with piloncillo however, it is hard! Like break your knife hard. Like please don’t try to cut it hard. I’ve heard of people grating it or smashing it with a hammer but I prefer to simmer it in liquid until it melts—I still have all my fingers intact that way. So if we are not going to want to cut it than we need to try to buy it in 1-ounce cones if we can, those are the ones you want. The nice thing about having to simmer the piloncillo in the milk is you can also simmer whole spices like cloves and cinnamon sticks in the same mixture giving the filling a suggestion of spice but letting the pumpkin really shine through.
A dairy-free pumpkin pie you are going to love
I also have been determined for the last couple of years to make a dairy-free pumpkin pie Armando could eat and so I thought making the crust out of cookie crumbs and toasted pumpkin seeds would lend this pie the richness that would essentially be missing from a filling made without thick half-and-half or buttermilk. This crust is the business, so full of spice and deep toasty flavors I can see it working with lots of other fillings too. I used Trader Joe’s Ginger Thins because I like their crisp texture and they are dairy-free but you can use whatever gingersnap cookie is your favorite.
The sprinkling of extra toasted pepitas and flaky salt on top makes you feel rich. Don’t skip that part.
Creamy (but dairy-free) pumpkin pie sweetened with Mexican piloncillo in a toasted pumpkin seed and gingersnap crust.
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 cup (5 ounces) pepitas (pumpkin seeds), plus 3 tablespoons more for garnish
- 9 ounces gingersnap cookies (dairy-free)
- 1/3 cup coconut oil
- 5 ounces piloncillo (Mexican raw sugar cones)
- 1 cup unsweetened soy milk (or any milk of your choice as long as it's unsweetened)
- 1/4 cup coconut oil
- 1 stick canela (Mexican cinnamon) or traditional (cassia) cinnamon stick
- 3 whole cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree
- 3 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- flaky sea salt for garnish, optional
- Heat oven to 350°F and arrange rack in the bottom of the oven. Spray a 10-inch pie plate with baking spray and set aside on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
- Heat vegetable oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add pumpkin seeds and toast, stirring frequently until fragrant and browned, about 5-6 minutes. Transfer to the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment.
- Add gingersnaps and coconut oil to the food processor and pulse until pepitas are finely minced and the crust holds together when squeezed.
- Transfer to the pie plate and press evenly all over the bottom and up the sides of the dish, using floured hands to prevent from sticking.
- Bake in the bottom of the oven until toasted and set, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack. Increase oven temperature to 375°F.
- To make the filling, combine piloncillo, milk, coconut oil, cinnamon stick, cloves, and salt in a medium sauce pan. Place over medium heat and cook, stirring frequently, until piloncillo has dissolved. Remove from heat and let steep 15 minutes.
- Strain piloncillo mixture into a large bowl. Add pumpkin, eggs, and lemon juice, and whisk until smooth and combined.
- Pour filling into pie crust and bake in the bottom of the oven until just set and wiggles just a little in the middle (it will set completely once it has cooled) about 30-40 minutes. Remove to a cooling rack and let cool completely, at least 4 hours before cutting.
- Pie can be covered and refrigerated overnight. Sprinkle remaining toasted pumpkin seeds and flaky salt over the top before cutting and serving.