TIME FOR A DESSERT.
This recipe was originally found on page 303 of the 1978 Betty Crocker cookbook.
The original recipe is primarily heavy cream, whipped – and melted marshmallows.
Blech, says I.
I made this pie in my pre-veg days with the cream and marshmallows and thought it was good, albeit the next day it was less appealing because I’ve never been a huge fan of the texture of marshmallows anyway, and it really made me a bit grossed out. It was for some relatives who were coming over to dinner. I served them haystacks, homemade GooGoo Clusters*, and this pie.
But creamy peppermint pie! Surely there must be some way to have it uncorrupted by horse hooves and calf food, and be sort of nutritious as well.
So, about a month ago I decided to give it a try, because even I can only eat so many cream pies and I knew it would take some tweaking before I was ready to present it to you today.
I have a millet cheesecake recipe I like to use a lot. Not only is it healthy (millet! cashews! no refined sugar!), it’s super simple to put together and the only expensive part is the cashews – of which you don’t use that many anyway. (By the way, the linked recipe is enough for either one springform cheesecake or two pie pans like I have pictured here. I did half a recipe to get just one pie.)
So that was my springboard. I thought that I could just whip it up, add peppermint flavouring, sub a nutmilk for the lemon juice, tint it with some of the beet juice from the beet-filled Pyrex of my husband’s that was in the fridge, and call it good.
Sadly, that didn’t work out so well. I took it to our Friday night group and the vote was unanimous that it needed improvement. All three of the children present, independent of one another, said it tasted like toothpaste at their very first bite. Notwithstanding that, the oldest-constantly-hungry-teenager-whom-we-shall-call-Train-Boy ate two helpings of the Toothpaste Pie.
The texture was all wrong and the peppermint flavouring was definitely too strong.
I tried again the following Friday, and according to inside sources all the kids, including Train Boy, made Loud Groaning Noises of Sadness and Despair and said, “Is she bringing Toothpaste Pie aGAIN?” when their mom told them I was bringing take 2. We all agreed, however, when we tried it, that the flavour was pretty perfect this time, but the texture just still needed work.
So, behold: Take 3.
First, you’ll need a graham cracker crust. For takes 1 and 2, I used premade graham cracker crumb crusts, which are totally okay, very yummy, and certainly the easiest way. For take 3, I decided to go all out and I used the graham cracker recipe from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar and made a pressed-in cookie-type crust.
Second, you need to do your filling. Here’s how.
1/2 c cashews for 8 hours or overnight
1/4 c millet
1 c water
I forgot to time it, but it doesn’t take very long, so keep a close eye on it. When it comes to a boil, turn it down to a simmer and when the water is mostly gone, turn it off and set aside, covered.
In another saucepan whisk together:
1 1/2 c non-dairy milk (I used oat milk in take 3, but soy, almond, or cocoanut would also work)
1 tsp agar powder
1 T cornstarch
1/4 c sugar
Whisk in pan constantly at medium heat until it gets bubbly; then continue to whisk about 2 minutes, until slightly thickened. Pour into blender with soaked cashews.
Add the following to the blender:
1 tsp peppermint extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
A few drops red food colouring, if desired
When that is blended super-smooth, pour in the millet and blend again until smooth. Spread into pan and refrigerate until firm. You can top with a non-dairy whipped topping if you like, or crushed peppermint candies, or both.
*GOOGOO CLUSTERS**. Surely there must be a way to make these vegan, too.
**My eldest daughter’s prenatal name was GooGoo because of GooGoo Clusters. I was kind of obsessed with them. Also, I tried to freak people out by telling them we were planning to actually name the baby GooGoo Cluster.