Vegan Nesselrode Pie

You’re probably sitting there scratching your head wondering what this pie could possibly consist of since the recipe seems to have vanished in recent years. I, myself had never heard of it until a dear “foodie” friend brought it up to me around the holidays. As soon as he mentioned candied fruit I was interested. This is because I am one of the few that actually adores fruitcake, but let me assure you right now that this pie is nothing like fruitcake – please don’t run away scared!

Traditionally, the pie is made using a flaky crust with a bavarian cream filling that has been lightened using egg whites before gently folding in the candied fruits. The candied fruits are often accompanied by chestnuts or sometimes even cauliflower. Other recipes have used lady fingers or chocolate wafers to create a more crumbly cookie crust. Sometimes there is a fluffy whipped topping placed over the bavarian cream filling with a dusting of chocolate shavings.

According to Larousse Gastronomique, The French food encyclopedia, there are a number of dishes containing chestnuts that were named after the 19th century Russian diplomat Count Nesselrode. There aren’t many other details as to why these dishes were named after him, but I think it’s safe to assume he was quite a big fan of chestnuts. Regardless of the why or how I am grateful that this recipe exists and that my friend introduced me to it! Its popularity in the US was due to a wonderful woman named Hortense Spier who served this at her restaurant as well as supplying them to a good many others in NYC during the 1950s. Back then this particular pie was as well known as lemon meringue, banana cream and coconut custard – whatever happened to poor nesselrode?!

Seeing that I have been eating and cooking vegan for a few years now I have been much more courageous in my attempts to “veganize” recipes that sound very… unvegan? The friend who told me about this retro recipe was so excited for someone to express an interest in nesselrode that he purchased an entire case of the pre-made candied fruits filling called “Raffetto’s Nesselro”. After each attempt of a different recipe he would give me a new bottle of the Nesselro in exchange for a few pieces of my experiments. Finally, we agreed that this last version was worth sharing with the world! He is truly hoping (and seems to believe) that this will begin a resurgence of Nesselrode Pie. I would love to be responsible for that, but for now I’m hoping someone out there will just give this a chance 🙂

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Nesselrode Pie Recipe (Vegan)

Chocolate Cookie Crust

1.5 Cups Chocolate Cookie Grounds
5 Tablespoons Earth Balance (I use soy-free), melted

Filling

6 ounces silken tofu
1 cup almond milk
1 tablespoon agar flakes
1 tsp vanilla extract
.5 tsp almond extract
.5 tsp lemon juice
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon unrefined coconut oil
10 oz Nesselro Fruit Topping, drained
1 tablespoon Dark rum
2 14 oz cans of Full Fat Coconut Milk
2 tablespoons powdered sugar

For the Chocolate Cookie Crust

1.) Heat oven to 350 degrees F.

2.) Place cookies into a food processor or blender and process until they are finely ground. No processor/blender? No problem! Put the cookies in a large ziplock bag and pound away with something like a rolling pin.

3.) Melt the first 5 tablespoons of Earth Balance Buttery Spread of choice (I always use soy-free).

4.) Transfer finely ground cookie crumbs into a large bowl, sprinkle a few shakes of cinnamon, pour the melted EB over the top, and stir until combined.

5.) Pour crumb mixture into a 9-inch pie pan and, using the bottom of a cup or your fingers, press firmly and evenly into the bottom and up the sides. Bake until fragrant, about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove to a wire rack to cool completely before filling.

For the Filling & Topping

1.) Whisk 1/2 cup almond milk with the cornstarch, set aside. Using a sieve drain your jar of Nesselro Fruit Topping, set aside.

2.) Pour the remaining 1/2 cup almond milk into a small saucepan with the Agar flakes and whisk over medium-high heat. Once the mixture begins to bubble turn the heat down to low-medium and allow to cook for 5 minutes. Stir occasionally to keep mixture from burning to bottom of the pan. Add the granulated sugar and allow to cook for another minute.

3.) Turn the heat back up to medium-high and slowly pour/whisk the almond milk cornstarch mixture in and bring to a light boil (about 30 seconds). Turn heat back down to medium-low and allow to cook for 5 more minutes. Stir occasionally to keep from burning.

4.) Remove pot from the heat and stir in remaining 1 tablespoon of EB buttery spread until completely combined. Set pot aside to cool for a bit while you prep the remainder of the ingredients.

5.) Place the tofu, extracts, lemon juice, and salt in a food processor or blender with the warm custard mixture and blend until fully combined. Transfer mixture to a large bowl and place in the refrigerator (or freezer if you want to eat this pronto!) to chill while you work on the coconut whipped cream (Coconut whipped cream recipe found below).

6.) Remove the bowl of custard and delicately fold in about a third of your coconut whipped cream. Gently fold in the Nesselro Fruit Topping with the dark rum, if using.

7.) Transfer the custard filling to your cookie crumb pie shell, spread the remaining coconut whipped cream on top, and finish the pie with a dusting of dark chocolate shavings.

Coconut Whipped Cream

1.) Place two cans of full fat coconut milk upside down in your refrigerator the night before. Place a large bowl in the freezer while you’re at it!

2.) Once you’re ready to open the cans of coconut milk turn them right side up again, open and pour out all of the excess liquid into a separate container (great to save for smoothies!).

3.) Extract the coconut cream from your cans of coconut milk into the large chilled bowl. Add 1-2 tablespoons of powdered sugar, to taste, and whip it all up using an electronic mixer with beaters!

*  Don’t forget to grate some chocolate shavings over the top! I used the Endangered Species Dark Chocolate with Espresso beans. The hint of coffee really intensifies the chocolate flavor. 

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