Italian ‘Cheese’ Pie

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The dense, fine texture of ricotta cheesecake inspired me to create this delicious dairy-free pie, which is studded with raisins and perfumed with Marsala. I owe thanks to Joyce Goldstein, whose Italian cheesecake recipe showed me where to start, and to the women at Bloodroot, a restaurant in Bridgeport, Conn., that’s known for its legendary dairy-free desserts. If desired, you can use a prepared graham cracker crust to save time.

  • servingServings

Ingredients

Crust

  • 1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbs. unrefined sugar
  • or granulated sugar
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 tsp. grated lemon peel
  • 1/3 cup soy margarine or unsalted butter
  • 1 Tbs. Marsala or sweet sherry
  • 1 to 3 Tbs. ice-cold water

Crust

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Crust

  • 6 Tbs. pine nuts
  • 2/3 cup golden raisins
  • 1/3 cup Marsala or sweet sherry
  • 4 oz. firm or extra-firm tofu, drain and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 3/4 cup apple juice
  • 1 Tbs. agar-agar flakes
  • 2/3 cup slivered blanched almonds
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 Tbs. grated lemon peel
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preparation

  1. Crust: In medium bowl, using fork, mix flour, sugar, salt and lemon peel until well blended. Add soy margarine and blend until coarse crumbs form–about the size of baby green peas. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon Marsala and 1 tablespoon of water over crumb mixture. Toss gently, adding more water if necessary, until mixture can be pressed together with your hands. Press into ball, flatten slightly and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 1 hour or up to 24 hours.
  2. Preheat oven to 350°F. On lightly floured surface, roll out dough into 11-inch circle. Fit crust into 9-inch pie plate. Trim overhang and crimp edges. Prick crust all over with tines of fork. Place empty 9-inch pie plate over crust and fill with beans or pie weights.
  3. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove pie plate with weights and continue baking until just firm to touch, about 10 minutes. Cool on wire rack. Reduce oven to 325°F. Spread pine nuts in small baking pan and bake until golden, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  4. Meanwhile, in small bowl, combine raisins and Marsala. Let stand for 10 minutes to plump. Drain well, reserving soaking liquid. In small saucepan, combine tofu, apple juice and agar-agar flakes. Stir in reserved liquid from raisins. Bring just to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer gently until agar-agar flakes are completely dissolved, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes.
  5. In food processor, process almonds, 1 tablespoon of sugar and salt until almonds are finely ground. Using slotted spoon, remove tofu mixture to small bowl (cover saucepan to keep juice mixture hot). Working quickly, add a third of tofu mixture to ground nuts. Add lemon peel and process to blend. With motor running, gradually drizzle 1/4 cup of oil into nut mixture. Alternately add remaining tofu and oil until blended. Mixture will have a grainy, ricotta-cheeselike texture.
  6. Add lemon juice and remaining sugar and process to blend. With motor running, gradually pour in hot apple juice. Mixture will have texture of thick mayonnaise and remain slightly grainy. Stir in raisins. Turn filling into crust and smooth surface. Scatter pine nuts over filling. To set pie, refrigerate, uncovered, for 1 hour. If not serving immediately, cover with plastic. Before serving, let pie stand at room temperature for 15 minutes.

Nutrition Information

  • Serving Size: 10 servings
  • Calories: 425
  • Carbohydrate Content: 33 g
  • Fat Content: 30 g
  • Fiber Content: 4 g
  • Protein Content: 7 g
  • Saturated Fat Content: 3 g
  • Sodium Content: 61 mg