from the kitchen of Paula Diana
When my Irish grandmother retired from the assembly line of Lionel Trains in New Haven, Connecticut, she was finally able to live her own life. She devoted herself to her true passion and set about feverishly baking for her neighborhood.
I spent my summers living with her when I was young. She began her baking projects in the wee hours when the rest of the world was still deep in sleep—a walnut coffee cake for Mrs. McGillicutty, a lemon meringue pie for Mr. McGee, who had just come out of the hospital. She labored happily in flour and sugar, in a time when “homemade” was going out of style.
It was my job to help her roll out the crusts and whip up the fillings, as she patiently guided me. When we ran out of butter, she’d call up the tiny corner store to say I was coming, while I ran down the alley to collect what we needed.
Today the world has changed, but not my love of pie. Along with my husband, I run the Diet for Living Center in Albuquerque. We teach our Raw Food Chef/Holistic Health Coaches how to make plant-based, healthy raw chocolate cream pie with raspberry meringue topping, one that would make my grammy proud. This is our raw version of her pie, now dairy- and gluten-free.
For the crust:
2 cups macadamia nuts, soaked overnight
¼ teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon salt
½ cup dates, soaked and well drained
Drain the macadamia nuts and add to a food processor. Mix in vanilla and salt until crumbly. Continue to process while adding the dates. Grease a 9-inch pie plate with coconut oil. Press the dough into the shell and set aside.
For the filling:
¾ ounce Irish moss cut up in very tiny pieces, soaked overnight and strained
1½ cups fresh almond milk*
2 teaspoons vanilla
½ cup finely chopped dates
¼ cup and 2 Tablespoons coconut butter
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1 Tablespoon lecithin
1/3 cup raw cacao (also known as raw chocolate)
¼ cup raw agave nectar
* For the fresh almond milk: Soak 1 cup raw almonds overnight, then strain. Put 1½ cups filtered water in a high-powered blender. Blend until smooth. Pour liquid through a nut milk bag to separate liquid. Set aside.
On high speed, blend the Irish moss with ½ cup of the almond milk until smooth and thick (about 5 minutes). Add the remaining almond milk, vanilla and dates. Blend until smooth. Add coconut butter, salt, lecithin and raw cacao until well incorporated. Pour into the prepared piecrust and put in fridge until set, about two hours.
For the raspberry meringue topping:
5 soft dates soaked overnight
1 cup raw cashews, soaked overnight and drained
1 Tablespoon pure maple syrup
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
½ cup organic raspberries, fresh or thawed from frozen
Drain the dates and save the liquid. In a blender, blend cashews, dates, maple syrup, vanilla and raspberries. Add a bit of the date water, if necessary, to keep the mixture running smooth. When everything is creamy, top the pie. Enjoy!