Thursday, November 14, 2013

Pecan Pie w/ Cinnamon Almond Crust -- Wheat & Sugar Free

This weekend I experimented with some holiday recipes. Last year I made a sugar and grain free pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving, so this year I wanted to experiment with making a sugar and grain free pecan pie. Pecan Pie is a bit trickier to create because of the "goo" part of the pie that typically consists of a boatload of sugar and Karo syrup, which are no-no's for me (and should be no-no's for everyone). I considered using my sugar free maple syrup that's sweetened with xylitiol, but decided against using it since xylitol causes tummy troubles for some folks and is toxic and deadly to pets. Since I have a little dog and my family is famous for feeding him from the table, I decided not to risk tummy troubles for my family or even worse, harm my beloved pup, I nixed the xylitol based syrup idea. I've never really been much of a pecan pie fan because I always found it too sickening sweet, so to counter that, I would add an extra cup of pecans to the "goo" part to help cut the sweetness. For my sugar free pecan pie, rather than trying to duplicate a "goo replacement", I decided instead to focus on the pecans themselves and encase them in a less sweet natural maple flavored "Sweetened Condensed Coconut Milk custard-like base". Wow, that was a mouthful wasn't it! LOL

I combined my Sweetened Condensed Coconut Milk with eggs, Swerve, pure maple extract, vanilla and butter to make a thick, dense, custard-like pie filling to hold the pecans. It turned out great. I actually liked it much better than the sickening sweet traditional goo type filling. While my version of pecan pie has some similarities to typical pecan is also very different because it is "goo-free" and nowhere near as sweet (although you could make it sweeter if you prefer). I used to make a chocolate pecan pie at Christmastime, which could easily be done with this version, too, by simply melting about 3 ounces of chopped dark chocolate into the sweetened condensed milk and then allowing it to cool before mixing in the eggs and other filling ingredients. I decided to make individual smaller pies rather than a larger pie (they cook more quickly). I used cute little 5-inch diameter, 1-inch deep, pie dishes (by Corningware French White) and got 5 individual pies from this recipe. Otherwise the recipe makes one 9.5-inch or 10-inch pie. Notice that this pie is lighter in color without the dark Karo syrup or maple syrup. I tried a different kind of pure maple extract in this recipe, made by Boyajian (which I found by researching "best real maple flavor"). Bon Appetit Magazine rated it as one of the better natural maple extracts, so I decided to give it a try. I also have pure maple extract by OliveNation (which I like), but I wanted to compare them. I found the Boyajian Natural Maple Extract much darker, with a richer and more intense maple flavor. While both extracts are good, I liked this one best for these pies (I didn't want the maple flavor to bake off). This maple extract provided the real maple flavor I was looking for without the sugar I was trying to avoid. I snapped some photos of my little mini-pies below as well as the recipe. Enjoy!

Popped into the oven to bake...

Pecan Pie w/ Cinnamon Almond Crust -- Wheat & Sugar Free
Makes one 10-inch pie or five 5-inch x 1-inch individual pies


For the crust

2 cups blanched almond flour
3 tablespoons butter
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons Swerve Sweetener (granular or confectioners)
Coconut oil spray or butter for greasing pie dish

For the filling:

1-1/4 cups Sweetened Condensed Coconut Milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon pure maple extract
2 tablespoons melted butter
3 large eggs
3/4 cup Swerve Sweetener Confectioners (or powdered erythritol)
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans (large pieces)
1 cup pecan halves


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Place all crust ingredients in a medium bowl (except for oil or butter for greasing pie dish).  Cut butter, egg, cinnamon and 3 tablespoons sweetener into flour with a pastry cutter until mixture resembles small pebbles and the flour is thoroughly moistened (just like preparing a regular pie crust).  Press crust mixture into a 10-inch pie dish (or divide evenly among 5 smaller individual pie dishes).  Bake for 10 minutes until very lightly browned; remove from oven and set aside.

Reduce heat to 325 degrees F. Combine all filling ingredients in a medium bowl (except for 1 cup pecan halves reserved for the top) until mixed thoroughly. Pour filling mixture into pie dish (or divide between smaller pie dishes). Top with 1 cup reserved pecan halves and bake for 30 minutes; remove and cover loosely with foil and bake an additional 15 minutes for smaller individual pies or bake an additional 25-30 minutes (or until done) for the larger 10-inch pie. Cool and serve at room temperature or chilled. Top with whipped cream, if desired.



Sami said...

They look absolutely delicious and beautiful. Will have to try them soon!

Gourmet Girl Cooks said...

Thank you, Sami! Hope you enjoy them. :-)

CyberSis said...


W-e-l-l ... isn't *this* something! I never liked "traditional" pecan pie, either. Your version has all the yummy stuff (plus even more) without all that yucky stuff! You are a master at what Graham Kerr used to call "spring-boarding," reinventing recipes to "maximize flavor and minimize risk" -- "Mini-Max"! :-)

Gourmet Girl Cooks said...

Hi CyberSis -- LOL -- yes, remember good old Graham Kerr -- I forgot all about "spring-boarding" until you just mentioned it. This pecan pie is a completely different animal without the "goo" and over-the-top sweetness...and for those that want it sweeter, they can bump up the sweetness if they choose to. Thanks for reminding me about spring-boarding! :-)