Vegan Pie in the Sky: 75 Out-of-This-World Recipes for Pies, Tarts, Cobblers, and More is a book you should grab if you want to stun your family with tasty treats for the holidays.
As a non-vegan and non-vegetarian, I wanted to try something healthier for my family. Most of my more delicious recipes call for a pound of butter and multiple eggs. They are very rich and sinful, and I’ve never cooked any other way.
Recently, however, I have been more concerned about my young family’s weight and health. While I have no immediate intention of giving up steak, I thought I would try to make our desserts less decadent.
Vegan Pie in the Sky had glorious photographs of sumptuous desserts, so I decided to try my hand at vegan cooking. The first dessert I made was the Blueberry Bliss Cheesecake. Who could resist finding out about a cheesecake with no cheese? Not I.
The directions were very easy to follow, from the graham cracker crust to the blueberry filling. The results were fabulous. I had eight members of my family leave the house while I prepared it. I did not want them to know that the substance of the cheesecake was 12 ounces of tofu. I easily prepared the cheesecake and put it in the refrigerator to set. When the family came home, we all ate the blueberry pie.
Despite the cheesecake name, it did not have the depth of a true cheesecake. The reviews were amazing. Everyone loved the cheesecake and many had second helpings. Then, three of the adults agreed that it was wonderful and smooth but decided it tasted more like a cobbler. I note this because the definitions of what constitutes a cobbler versus a pie versus a galette are in the chapter “How to Spy a Pie.” So I said, “No. By definition, a cobbler has a batter — or biscuit-like top crust.”
I made the mistake of gesturing toward the Vegan Pie in the Sky book on my counter. This caused someone to ask about the vegan nature of the recipe. My hand was forced. I had to confess that they had just eaten tofu. Everyone groaned. Even the people who will eat tofu in main meals were disgusted that I had used tofu in the pie. Those that don’t eat tofu were “grossed out.” This was my 12-year old-boy.
Nevertheless, everyone continued eating the pie with my son’s demand that we “stop talking about the tofu!”
My next attempt was the Vegan Pie in the Sky Coconut Cream Pie. I had to try it because the picture in the book was gorgeous. Again, the recipe was very easy to follow as long as you had all of the ingredients. If you’ve never cooked this way before, you will need a lot of ingredients you probably do not have in your house. The first shopping trip will be expensive. The fifth trip to the store will be frustrating. I went to five different stores to find agar powder. There are two pages in the cookbook dedicated to agar. Agar is a seaweed-based gelatin needed to, obviously, gel your pies. I could not find agar anywhere. There were no Asian markets within a 45-minute radius of me so I substituted the horse-hoof-infested regular gelatin. Hey, I’m not vegan. I read that you can use a substitute in equal parts. I caution anyone trying to substitute the agar that you need more gelatin than agar powder.
My coconut pie never gelled. I was going to call it coconut soup and serve it for dinner when my son, (“There’s no tofu in this right?”) told me to put it in the freezer. That might seem obvious to some, but I hadn’t considered it.
The coconut cream pie was very well received, even more so than the blueberry cheesecake. The quotes from my family were “It’s not too strong and it’s not too sweet like some pies can be.” My son’s quote was “Aaaaaahhhh.” He said that it was better than his favorite meal and requested I make it for his birthday.
My always-health-conscious boyfriend gave it the best review and added that when you eat these desserts, you do not feel as gluttonous and bloated as you do after a regular dessert.
My next attempt will be the Maple Pecan Pie. I’m going to make it for Thanksgiving in lieu of my traditional pecan pie. Even I got a little queasy last year when I had to use five eggs for the filling. I have to wait a while, though because I have to go buy some more tofu and hide it from the family!
Vegan Pie in the Sky is filled with funny little tidbits for the “vegan police” and gives advice for the new baker. It is fun to read even if you never try a recipe because you’ll learn a lot about some ingredients. For example, I learned that some sugar is filtered through animal bones.
Ok, so maybe you’ll learn things you wish you hadn’t. Still, it was a fun experience and I’ll be making more of these recipes in the months and years to come.
Try Vegan Pie in the Sky and your friends and family will be amazed by your talent. Just don’t talk about the tofu.