Book Report: Vegan Pie in the Sky

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If one could speed-read cookbooks competitively, I’d probably sign up. You’d never believe how many cookbooks and cooking magazines I read, or how quickly. My personal collection is huge – and goes back about 15 years. There are also dozens of files full of loose recipes from magazines, photocopied from library books – or handwritten on notecards from friends and family.

Alas, one thing I don’t like is reviews.  So as I read cookbooks I want to tell you about, I’d rather simply tell you about them in a more casual, less critical way. Take it like this – if I don’t like a book or if I try the recipes from a book and they taste awful, I’m not going to write about it. If a book makes it onto a blog book report, it’s a thumbs up.

The latest book from Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero is Vegan Pie in the Sky. I’m a huge fan of both writers and own quite a few of their previous titles, including Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar, Vegan Cupcakes Take over the World and Isa’s Vegan Brunch. These women are brilliant vegan recipe writers.

In their latest dessert collection, the subject is pie. And damn, it’s GOOD. Long ago I gave up on such delectables as pecan pie, coconut cream pie and decent-tasting vegan cheesecake. Well, just shows how silly I am. Isa and Terry have reinvented these pies – vegan, delicious, and with excellent texture.

The first recipe I tried from Vegan Pie in the Sky was the DH’s request: Coconut Cream Pie, found on page 108. I made the graham cracker crust from page 46.

The crust recipe made a little more than my 9″ ceramic pie plate could hold. It was no problem, tho, we just ate the leftovers with a spoon. I think that the recipe would have been perfect if I was doing the full sides of a Springform pan, though, like for a cheesecake.

The coconut cream pie recipe is simple, but you have to pay attention. If you aren’t an experienced baker or you haven’t worked with agar, be sure to read the recipe thoroughly beforehand and really focus on what you are doing. The authors aren’t joking when they say that the pie will be liquid-y when you stick it in the fridge. But in 3 hours – it sets up very evenly and is like a creamy, smooth slice of euphoria.

My only notes on this pie – I used 2 cups of shredded coconut in the pie instead of 1 1/2 cups, like the authors call for. It seemed like it could bear it and, well, we like a lot of coconut. A final thought on this pie – it is quite decadent. Normally, I’d say my pie plate holds about 8-10 portions. For this pie, it was more like 14-16 portions. This pie is heavenly. You can share it with company, fool your non-vegan friends, or eat it all yourself right out of the pie plate with a fork. Yum!

Next, I made the Maple Pecan Pie. Usually, pecan pie replies heavily on eggs for its texture.

I was honestly a little wary – trying to figure out how the authors were going to pull off this incredible feat of veganizing a very egg-y pie while maintaining both the mouthfeel and flavor. But they did.  It works. The recipe, Maple Pecan Pie is on page 157 and the crust, called “Single (And Loving It),” is on page 42 in the book. We even fed it to the DH’s parents, who are bonafide Southerns, omnivores and pecan pie experts. They loved it. For real.

While making the pie, my only mystery moment was when the raw crust dough smelled like vinegar. But after baking, it was fine. So don’t even worry about that.

Much like the coconut pie, you have to pay attention while you’re making this dessert. The caramel base requires rapt attention and regular stirring – be sure you don’t overcook it. Oh- and also like the other pie, this one is better after a few hours in the fridge. It sets up perfectly and the taste/texture are just what you expect from a pecan pie. Eureka!

We made one alteration to the recipe: we toasted the pecans before adding them to the pie. It’s a personal flavor thing – we love the depth of toasted nuts in desserts. But it’s not everyone’s cup of tea (or nuts).

So far these are the only two recipes we’ve made  from Vegan Pie in the Sky. We can’t decide which way to go next: the Brownie Bottom Peanut Butter Cheesecake on page 185 or the Blueberry Ginger Hand Pies on page 73. Ah… the delicious torment!

Thanks Isa and Terry for yet another wonderful vegan cookbook!

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