As I mentioned in an earlier post, the Midwestern Gentleman has pronounced these gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, low-sugar miniature pumpkin pies to be a “real” dessert. I find them to be rich and flavorful, with a pleasing texture reminiscent of cheesecake.
They are wonderful with any sweet winter squash such as buttercup, sugar pumpkin, or — my absolute favorite — red kuri. This date-sweetened dessert relies on roasted fresh squash or pumpkin for its depth of sweetness and flavor, which makes it a perfect way to use up leftover roasted or mashed squash. However, I often find myself roasting squash just to make these pies!
I don’t recommend making this recipe with canned pumpkin puree — it’s just not naturally sweet or flavorful enough, and you’re making this dessert to wow your tastebuds, right? Not only are these tarts low-sugar overall, they are also low-glycemic, meaning that the high fiber content from the squash and dates slows the absorption of sugars into the bloodstream. So, enjoy your pie without fear of the typical sugar-crash that so often follows a “real” dessert!
I like to bake these in glass custard cups in a small batch of four mini-pies at a time, but you can just as easily use any small ramekins or even oven-safe teacups with about a 1-cup capacity. You can also easily double or triple the batch.
Pumpkin Mini Pies
For the crust:
1/2 cup pecans
1/2 cup almond meal (or blanched almonds, finely chopped)
1 Tbsp coconut oil
4 to 5 whole, pitted dates
For the pie filling:
1/4 cup pitted fresh dates, halved
1/4 cup boiling water
1 cup mashed, roasted winter squash or sugar pumpkin
1/3 cup whole coconut milk
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg (or good quality “pumpkin pie spice”)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 F.
For the crust: Grind the pecans in a food processor until finely chopped but not powdered. Add almond meal, pinch of salt, coconut oil, and dates. Pulse just until incorporated, and nut mixture starts to clump. Divide the mixture evenly among four (1-cup capacity) ungreased glass custard cups or ceramic ramekins, and press into the bottom and partially up the sides.
For the filling: Pour the boiling water over the dates in a heatproof container and let sit for about 10 minutes, until the dates have plumped up and softened. Pour the dates and any residual water into the food processor (no need to wash after grinding the crust — just carry on!) and puree until smooth. Add the remaining filling ingredients to the date puree and process until very smooth. Divide the filling evenly among the baking cups.
Bake in the lower third of the oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until custard is set. Let cool to room temperature on a baking rack and then refrigerate until cool.*
*Sometimes I can’t wait, and will eat these warm. They still taste wonderful (and oh so comforting) but the sweetness is much more pronounced when they are fully chilled!