Pumpkin-flavoured everything defines the fall season, and pumpkin pie, the original, is no exception. This vegan version (in mini, bite-sized form!) uses coconut in a few different ways – flour, milk and sugar – to achieve a tender dairy-free crust, trademark custardy interior and must-have whipped cream topping. But rest assured, even with all of that coconut, the flavour is loud and clear: pumpkin pie with whipped cream! The coconut is used for butteriness and richness, which vegan desserts require in order to achieve the familiar texture, taste and appearance of traditional baked goods. Spelt flour lends a nutty, wholegrain note to the pastry, but doesn’t have a too-strong flavour, like whole-wheat flour can. Spelt flour is also lower in gluten (not gluten-free), which means a more tender, flaky pie crust, naturally.
Prepare the pastry the day before so it’s ready to take form in your muffin tin the day you want to serve these miniature vegan treats. Leftover pumpkin pie cups will last for one day at room temperature, or for a few days in the refrigerator.
Pumpkin Pie Filling
This recipe requires 8 hours 20 minutes of chilling and cooling time.
For the Spelt Pastry, in a food processor, pulse 1 ½ cups flour, sugar and salt until combined. Distribute pieces of coconut oil or butter over top of flour and pulse until incorporated and a coarse meal forms. Sprinkle over vinegar followed by 1 Tbsp of water. Briefly pulse dough until it begins to hold together. If it’s too sticky, add more flour; if it’s too dry, add water 1 Tbsp at a time.
Tip dough onto a piece of plastic wrap and form into a disc. Wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, up to 1 day.
Bring the dough out of the refrigerator and rest at room temperature until still cool but you are able to roll, about 20 to 30 minutes.
Sprinkle a large clean surface and rolling pin with additional flour. Unwrap dough and roll into a large, ¼-inch-high round. Using a 4- to 5-inch cookie cutter or drinking glass, cut circles of dough, re-rolling as needed, for 10 to 12 circles. Fit circles into a 12-count muffin tin, removing any air pockets from the bottom. The pastry should be almost or just touching the top of the muffin rim.
Refrigerate formed pastry cups for at least 1 hour, or until completely chilled. Meanwhile, prepare the filling and coconut whipped cream.
For the Pumpkin Pie Filling, in a large bowl, whisk to combine pumpkin and sugar. Sift over coconut flour, pumpkin spice and salt, and then whisk again until smooth. Slowly whisk in coconut milk until fully incorporated.
For the Coconut Whip, remove coconut milk can from refrigerator (don’t shake) and open. Spoon only the thick creamy top into a bowl and reserve watery liquid below for another use (in baking, smoothies, soups or sipping).
With electric beaters, whip coconut cream until it begins to get fluffy with soft peaks, 2 to 3 minutes. Once desired texture has been reached, beat in maple syrup and vanilla. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve, up to 1 day.
To bake and assemble, position an oven rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Fill chilled pastry cups to the top with filling, smoothing slightly to flatten.
Bake for 15 minutes, rotate pan and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes until filling is dry to the touch and both the filling and pastry are beginning to brown. Cool in the pan for 20 minutes. Run a knife around the outside of each cup to loosen, and transfer to a wire cooling rack to cool completely, about 5 hours.
To serve, dollop cooled pumpkin cups with coconut whip and sprinkle with crystalized ginger and/or additional pumpkin spice, if desired. Enjoy immediately.