Recipe: Pumpkin Pie (Keto/Low-Carb/Sugar-free)

Who said you can't go on holiday mode and indulge without the guilt? Well, with less guilt. 

When I lived in the Philippines, I never really understood what Thanksgiving was. I (at least my family in Manila) didn't celebrate it, it didn't apply to us after all. I really just associated this holiday with "Black Friday" sales because I'd hear about it through my Titos and Titas (uncles and aunts) panicking on what deals they could get their hands on. 

When I came to Canada almost 10 years ago, I remember the first Thanksgiving dinner item I made - Duck a l'orange. In my head, I was sure someone was going to make turkey and all the fixings. So I made something different. And I guess because it was something different, it was finished almost instantly, no leftovers. The turkey was there, gravy, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and of course, the pumpkin pie. While everyone headed for the poultry selection, I went straight for the pie. Mainly because I wanted to make sure I had a taste of dessert before I got too full to accommodate it as the night went on. 

Thanksgiving in Canada was first celebrated nationally in the year 1879 - there was some big fuss about combining this holiday with another holiday (I can't remember). It was only in 1957 that Canada decided to proclaim this to be observed on the second Monday in October. Canadian Thanksgiving has been celebrated (first by the indigenous people) because of the fall harvest and also even before the arrival of European settlers. Much like our American neighbours, we share almost the same type of spread prepared by families for this holiday. And the reason why "pumpkin pies" are most associated to the festivities is because it's the season for pumpkin, it's fall and it's in abundance this time of the year. Even Starbucks offers a pumpkin spiced latte! Take a trip to Walmart and you'll see the pumpkin spiced flavoured Oreos on display! In any case, this pie just screams autumn. That mixture of spice and sweetness. It's something you'd have, savouring every bite while wearing your warm Hudsons Bay fleece coat and later on burning the calories walking through a maple tree-lined park. (Too many Canadian references, eh?)

It's Thanksgiving this coming Monday here in Canada - October 12, 2020. Looking back at the past year, trying to fully grasp the enormity of what's happened and what's still happening, you will really need to take a step back and look at the overall spectrum. There are soooo many blessings to be thankful for. The little things we all took for granted - time, our health and every day you wake up (most of all), our family (you gotta love them no matter the drama, I'm positive every family has drama), our friends (your long-time squad that despite the distance or pandemic situation, you'll always have each others' backs), the food on the table, the roof over our heads, our slow internet providers, our entertainment sources (a book, laptop, tablet, watching politics), learning a skill you never knew you had and it took a pandemic to show you, the delivery guy, our frontline workers, learning how to bake and make bread all of a sudden, being in pajamas all day, and really... there's just too many blessings to mention. 

Let's appreciate it all and be thankful. And yes... you can have this pie and eat it too. 

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Pumpkin Pie (Ket/Low-Carb/Sugar-free)
This recipe will make 1 pie, you can use a 9.5- or 10-inch pie dish. You can also use a 9-inch springform pan, or a round cake pan. In case you wanted this as a sheet, you can use a brownie pan as well (this will be thinner though).

You'll will need a couple of bowls, a spatula, whisk, a 9.5- or 10-inch pie dish, a strainer/sieve, and a cooling rack.

Ingredients
For the almond shortbread pie crust:
2 cups almond flour
4 tbsp Stevia (or any other sweetener or sugar replacement)
6 tbsp butter, unsalted, melted

For the Pumpkin Pie filling:
1 can (15oz or 398ml) Pumpkin puree (I try to use the organic kind, check the label also so there are no added sugars and fillers like unwanted starches. Best to get pure pumpkin puree.)
1 can (354ml) evaporated milk OR 1 cup heavy cream
2 eggs, large (at room temperature)
2/3 cup Stevia (or any other sweetener or sugar replacement)
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract 
2 tsp Pumpkin Pie spice (you can use pre-made spice mixes but in case you can't find any, use this recipe below to make your own stash of spice mix)
            3 tbsp ground cinnamon
            2 tsp ground ginger
            2 tsp nutmeg
            1 1/2 tsp ground allspice
            1 1/2 tsp ground cloves


Whipped cream (Optional, for topping. You can make a sugar-free version as well. Just whip up a cup of heavy cream and add 2 tbsp of your sugar replacement. )

(This is the pumpkin puree that I used.)

Procedure
1. Preheat your oven to 350℉.
2. To make the almond shortbread pie crust - In a bowl, melt the butter in the microwave for 30 seconds. In the same bowl, add the almond flour and sugar replacement and mix all together. Transfer to the baking dish and fresh firmly to the bottom and sides of the dish. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Let this cool completely. When the pie crust is done, reduce the oven temperature to 325℉. Let this cool on a wire rack while you make your filling. 
3. To make the the pie filling - In a bowl, whisk and combine the pumpkin puree, pumpkin spice, sugar replacement of choice, salt, vanilla extract, and half of the milk/cream. Add eggs one at a time, whisking as you go. Add the rest of the milk and cream until all ingredients are incorporated together. Pass the filling mixture through a strainer/sieve to remove any lumps and to release any air bubbles.
4. Pour the filling into the crust and gently tap it to release any bubbles left behind.
5. Bake for 40-50 minutes, the centre will be slightly jiggly, that's okay. Let this cool completely on a wire rack. Pop it in the chiller too for about an hour to set completely.

6. ENJOY with a dollop of whipped cream!!! Or dress up the whole pie with whipped cream. 
 

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*I had some extra batter/pie filling so I just baked them in little ramekins. You can do this as well if you're looking to control portions (because I definitely tend to get the bigger slices if it were a whole cake or pie). 

**You can definitely add some chopped walnuts and a sprinkling of cinnamon or pumpkin spice on top of the whipped cream. If you have some sugar-free ice cream, go ahead!

***Another idea for this is to make them like cheesecake bars - so you can serve more people too. Just whip in a block of cream cheese and add another egg. Bake for the same time using a brownie pan or a Pyrex dish. Let this this set and cool completely, best to let this set in the chiller if you're making them into bars. Then serve each slice with a good heaping spoon of whipped cream! 



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