Warning – making this pie is not easy as a pie! It takes quite a bit of fussing but the result is amazingly flavorful, completely healthy and entirely envy-inducing. The recipe starts with a lovely squash – buttercup squash. This is a winter squash variety that is really deliciously sweet so requires no additional sugar especially if you roast it first. The roasting part is super easy – all you need to do is split the squash in half, scoop out the seeds, then flip the cut side down on the foil lined cookie sheet and put it into a hot oven (425 F; 220 C) for about 45 minutes. The squash will be soft and flaky. You can actually serve it just like that, and it would be great. But, if you are willing to go few steps further, the reward will be a multilayered pie that you can serve as a birthday cake!
What makes this a layered pie? Well, I sneak a cranberry layer into this pie by topping the squash with dried cranberries that have been soaked in warm water for at least half an hour, and then top the second buttercup squash layer with toasted walnuts. Finally, the pie-cake is topped with aquafaba marshmallow topping that’s just lightly broiled to get that perfect look, and a slightly caramelized sugar flavor.
Aquafaba probably deserves a post of its own. It is the liquid leftover after cooking the chickpeas, and most people use the canned version. I have used both the canned version and the leftover liquid from homemade chickpeas, and the canned one works better probably because it’s hard to get the content and consistency of the homemade one just right. You can use your aquafaba marshmallow topping as is and serve the pie immediately, or you can put it under a broiler for a minute or so. If you are venturing into broiling do keep an very close eye on your pie as it will burn if you don’t pull it after the first minute. Plus, you will lose some of the puffiness so if you want to skip it that’s fine – the pie will still be delicious and look amazing!
Buttercup Squash Pie with Cranberries, Walnuts and Marshmallow Topping
What you’ll need:
2 winter squashes, I recommend buttercup but any sweeter variety will work
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoon cloves
10 oz dried cranberries
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup aquafaba
6 tablespoons sugar
1/2 vanilla bean
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
What you’ll do:
- Preheat the oven to 425 F (220 C).
- Slice the squash in two, scoop out the seeds, and place the squash halves cut side down flat on the baking sheet that’s been lined with some parchment paper or aluminum foil.
- Place the squash into the oven and roast for 30-40 minutes, until completely soft and done. Let the squash cool for at least half an hour before handling.
- To get the dried cranberries ready, soak them in hot water for 30 minutes or more. Drain them and rinse them before use.
- Once the squash is cool, scoop out the flesh with a spoon. Place it in a large mixing bowl, then add the spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and cloves), and blend everything together with a stick blender. You can also do this in a food processor.
- Pour the blended squash into a 8 x 8 in (20 x 20 cm) deep dish and level it out. Top the squash with the cranberries, and chopped walnuts that have been toasted for couple of minutes.
- Using a hand or a stand mixer start mixing the aquafaba with sugar, cream of tartar and vanilla bean. It may take anywhere between 5 to 10 minutes for stiff peaks to form.
- Top the pie with your aquafaba marshmallows and serve as is or broil for a minute to caramelize the top. The pie is great served at room temperature!
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