Ancho chocolate truffle pie with sea salt and butternut squash walnut ice cream

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      Editor’s note: What follows is a set of recipes from Mérida Anderson’s new cookbook, Vegan Secret Supper.

      This rich and velvety pie has just a slight hint of spice.

      Makes 8–12 servings.

      • 1/3 cup (80 mL) coconut oil
      • 4 oz (115 g) chopped chocolate
      • 1 cup (250 mL) raw cashews, soaked in 2 cups water overnight and drained
      • 1 14-oz (398-mL) can coconut milk
      • 2/3 cup (160 mL) cocoa powder
      • 3/4 cup (185 mL) maple syrup
      • 3 tbsp coconut flour
      • 1 tsp vanilla extract
      • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
      • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
      • 1/4–1/2 tsp ancho or cayenne pepper, to taste
      • 1/2 tsp salt
      • 1 recipe Nut Crust (see below); use chocolate and walnuts

      In a double boiler on medium heat, melt coconut oil and chocolate, and set aside. In a food processor or blender, blend remainder of filling ingredients until smooth. While blender is running, slowly pour in melted oil-chocolate mixture and blend until smooth. Pour into 10-in (25-cm) springform pan with pre-baked Nut Crust and chill overnight.

      To plate:

      • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
      • Butternut Squash & Walnut Ice Cream (see below)
      • 1 tsp flaked sea salt

      Sprinkle a tiny pinch of cinnamon in a diagonal line across a square plate. Place a slice of pie in the middle and a scoop of ice cream beside it. Sprinkle a pinch of salt on top of pie before serving.

      Nut crust

      This is another no-fail, all-purpose crust. You can mix and match flavors to go with what you have on hand or the type of pie you’re making—almond cinnamon crust, hazelnut mocha crust, or chocolate walnut crust are good choices.

      Makes 1 10-in (25-cm) crust.

      • 1 cup (250 mL) nuts (almonds, hazelnuts, or walnuts), ground
      • 3/4 cup (185 mL) spelt flour (for gluten-free: 3/4 cup rice flour + 1 tbsp arrowroot powder or corn starch)
      • 1 tsp cocoa powder (or 1 tsp ground cinnamon, or 1 tsp fine ground coffee + 1 tsp vanilla extract)
      • 1/2 tsp salt
      • 2 tbsp grapeseed oil
      • 2 tbsp brown rice syrup
      • 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
      • 1/2 tsp flavored extract, optional (almond, vanilla, orange, etc.)

      Preheat oven to 350˚F (180˚C).

      In a bowl, combine nuts with dry ingredients and make a well. In a separate bowl, combine wet ingredients. Add wet ingredients to dry and stir until combined. Use your hands, as needed, at the end to combine ingredients. Press into a pie plate or 10-in (25-cm) springform pan.

      Butternut squash and walnut ice cream

      Warmly flavored, a little like a pumpkin pie: this is real comfort-food ice cream.

      Makes 3 cups (750 mL).

      • 1 cup (250 mL) peeled and cubed butternut squash
      • 1/4 cup (60 mL) toasted walnuts
      • 1 14-oz (398-mL) can coconut milk
      • 1/2 cup (125 mL) maple syrup
      • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
      • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
      • 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg

      In a pot, place a 6-in (15-cm) vegetable steamer. Add at least 1-in (2.5-cm) water, place squash in steamer, and cover pot. Steam squash on medium-high heat for 10 minutes, until squash is tender. Set aside to cool.

      In a blender or food processor, blend squash with remainder of ingredients until smooth. Chill in a covered bowl or container in the refrigerator overnight before following manufacturer’s instructions for ice cream maker, or those provided below.

      Ice cream

      If you have an ice cream maker, you can freeze the following ice cream recipes according to the manufacturer’s directions. Even if you don’t own one, you can still make perfect ice cream. Here is my method:

      Take two metal bowls that nest together well. Fill one up with water and place the other one on top. (You may want to do this in the sink, as adjusting the water levels can be messy.) Weigh the top bowl down with a bag of frozen peas, until the bowls are nesting with an even layer of water between them. Place the stacked bowls in the freezer for two hours, until water is frozen solid.

      Remove bag of peas. Pour the well-chilled ingredients into your frozen bowl and stir it. It will start freezing to the bowl as you scrape the sides. Stir for at least five minutes before taking a break. You can put the bowl back in the freezer for about ten minutes to harden the ice cream slightly and keep the bowl frozen, then remove it and stir again, until ice cream reaches the desired consistency. Transfer ice cream to a sealed container and keep in the freezer for up to two weeks.

      The base in most of these recipes is coconut milk. You can substitute other milks, but coconut milk will result in a smoother and creamier ice cream, especially when turning by hand, because of its higher fat content.