That seems a long time in the ephemeral world of cyberspace, and I must confess I am not someone who sticks long-term with most "hobby" projects, as Desi will tell you. But this blog has persisted through good times and tough ones, largely because it has allowed me to bring together three of my greatest passions: cooking, writing, and living a compassionate life. And also because when I started writing Holy Cow! I set two simple ground rules that I have stuck with: first, that I would write exactly what I wanted to without worrying about pleasing anyone -- except myself. Second, that I would share only the recipes that were good enough to feed those I love-- my family and my friends.
I've never really followed the established guidelines for successful blogging. I don't network like crazy with other bloggers, although I do love visiting the blogs I love, and there are many of those. I don't have the time to chase after followers, and even if I did, I wouldn't know where to start. I haven't invested in search engine optimization, or in an attractive design to make my blog more appealing (although Desi's great pictures do help). All I have done for these last five years is cook and write with a lot of love. And lucky for me, that has been enough for many of you who have found Holy Cow! and come back for more.
I know your mouth is already watering after reading those two words. Especially if you are Indian. There's something about the mango that makes an Indian wax eloquent. We love this fruit with an ardent passion, and readily cite this as our favorite fruit. We know, by heart, the shape, size, name, texture, and taste of every variety of mango available-- and there are many, each silkier, sweeter, and juicier than the next. We even forgive our summers for being as torrid as they are because they bring with them this glorious fruit.
And if you don't know what on earth I am talking about, you should book a ticket to India next summer.
It's been a while since I was last in India, and in my home in the United States I make do with the next best thing I can find: canned mango pulp from the Indian grocery store. It works really well in baked goods, like my Mango Cupcakes and Mango Cheesecake. And in this pie.
This was the pie I made for Thanksgiving because I wanted something a little different and also something I knew my family would love. The filling, with a smooth texture that melts in the mouth and the flavor of the popular Indian sweet dish, Aamras, is, quite simply, quite divine. I use some vegan cream cheese in the filling to make it extra delicious, and the one spice that goes beautifully with mangoes: cardamom.
I baked the pie in a regular pie crust (similar to the one I shared for the fresh pumpkin pie I shared not long ago), but you could try a graham cracker crust. A nut crust would work beautifully too.
Here's the recipe. Enjoy, all. And look forward to seeing you around for the next five years!
For the crust:
1 1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
4 tbsp vegan butter, like Earth Balance, very cold
4 tbsp vegetable shortening, very cold
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
Ice-cold water to mix
For the filling:
2 cups Alphonso mango pulp (use canned or fresh)
1 cup extra-firm tofu blended into a smooth paste with 1/2 cup soymilk
1/2 cup sugar (you may want to use more if you use fresh mango pulp, less if you use canned. I'd advise tasting as you mix)
1/2 tsp powdered cardamom seeds (use the green, not brown, kind)
1/2 cup vegan cream cheese (if you can't find this, substitute with the same amount of extra-firm tofu)
1/2 tsp salt
To make the crust, place the flour, salt and sugar in a bowl. Cut the butter and shortening into small cubes and add to the flour. Using a pastry cutter or two forks, cut in the fat into the flour until you have smallish pieces of fat dispersed through the flour, no larger than the size of peas.
Drizzle in the icy water, a little at a time, until the dough comes together in a ball.
Clump the dough together and place it in plastic cling wrap, shaping into a disc as you wrap it.
Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Using some flour, roll the pie crust into a round large enough to fit into your pie plate with a slight overhang. Place in the pie plate and tuck in the excess under the rim.
Crimp or flute the corners to make a decorative edge. You can also just press around the edges with the tines of a fork to get a nice-looking crust.
You will need to blind-bake the crust-- meaning you need to par-bake it before adding the filling. To do this, smooth a piece of aluminum foil (shiny side up) over the crust, making sure you cover the crust entirely. Now fill the pie crust all the way to the top with dry rice or beans (these are used as pie weights-- they prevent the pie crust from shrinking which it would do if you didn't add the pie weights. Keep the dry rice or beans that you use for all your future blind-baking needs-- don't throw it away).
Place the pie crust in a 400-degree (Fahrenheit) oven for 20 minutes. Then remove from the oven, carefully pour out the rice or beans, and remove the aluminum foil. Poke some holes into the bottom of the crust with a fork, and put it back in the oven for another five minutes. Remove the crust from the oven and set aside.
To make the filling, combine all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until you have a very smooth mixture.If you don't have a food processor, combine the ingredients in a large bowl and mix with a whisk until everything's well-blended.
Pour the filling into the warm crust.
Bake in a 375-degree oven for 55 minutes or until the filling is set and only slightly jiggly in the center.
Cool thoroughly before serving.