Pie-a-Day #48: Gluten Free Chocolate Cream Pie with Almond-Chocolate Crust

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Gluten Free Chocolate Cream Pie with Almond-Chocolate Crust

Gluten Free Chocolate Cream Pie With Almond-Chocolate Crust

In thinking about what I thought about today’s Pie, it occurred to me that this exercise in making and commentary feels occasionally like a Chinese Revolutionary Guard exercise in self-criticism.  And unfortunately there is much to criticize.

I’ve been a bit surprised that I havn’t been asked to make a vegan raw food no dairy pie.  But a few little birds did mention that a colleague here at KCRW can’t have gluten.  Nearly simultaneously I received a review copy of The Gluten Free Almond Flour Cookbook by Elana Amsterdam.  The use of almond flour intrigued me and made me feel more comfortable about venturing into unfamiliar territory.  I wasn’t even put off by her recommendation of a particular brand of almond flour, since I know that texture will be a real issue in gluten free baking.  So I decided to make a Chocolate Cream Pie with Chocolate Crust.

Chocolate Almond Flour Crust
The crust was interesting.  You mix almond flour with a bit of baking soda (and salt) which allows just enough puff in the oven to alude to a flour crust.  You also add agave nectar and, in this recipe, grapeseed oil, and melted chocolate, since I was making a chocolate crust.  You mix it all together and press it into the pie pan.  It bakes quickly, just enough to set the mixture without burning the nut flour.  It smelled delicious coming out of the oven and I’m actually looking forward to making a plain, non-chocolate crust with the almond flour.
Chocolate Cream Filling
Elana makes the assumption that folks who are intolerent of gluten may have some issues with dairy as well, so her chocolate cream filling is based on coconut milk instead of, well, milk milk.  Everything was fine until the new dreaded thickener, arrowroot. She uses arrowroot in all recipes that require thickening because it is gluten free and tolerated better, than cornstarch for example.  But the way it thickens is quite different.  Mixed with the coconut milk it was kind of slimy the way that gumbo file is slimy.  Arrowroot is a starch ground from the rhizomes of the West Indian Arrowroot.  The following is from Wikipedia:

“Arrowroot thickens at a lower temperature than does flour or cornstarch, is not weakened by acidic ingredients, has a more neutral taste, and is not affected by freezing. It doesn’t mix well with dairy, forming a slimy mixture. It is recommended to mix arrowroot with a cool liquid before adding to a hot fluid. The mixture should be heated only until the mixture thickens and removed immediately to prevent the mixture from thinning. Overheating tends to break down arrowroot’s thickening property. Substitute two teaspoons of arrowroot for one tablespoon of cornstarch, or one teaspoon of arrowroot for one tablespoon of wheat flour.”

Having said that I just received a note from Mike Newport, operations director for KCRW and my gluten intolerant colleague.  He liked it!  He really liked it!  From Mike himself, “I wouldn’t have known that the filling was non-dairy.  (I say that as someone who has been dairy-free for about a dozen years.)  And I thought the texture of the crust was wonderful…infinitely better than the tapioca crusts I’ve tried.”

So there you have it – an edible, delicious even, gluten dairy-free pie.  Next time I would put the chocolate pudding, I mean cream through a sieve to make it smoother and get rid of the tiny lumps from the arrowroot.