Cake in a Crate

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- Pumpkin Pocket Pies


Halloween is over, and Thanksgiving is officially around the bend. It's probably snowing in Minnesota right now, the makings of a Christmas list sits beside me as I write, and I'm trying really hard to resist turning on the Nat King Cole. (Yes, I'm unapologetically THAT kind of girl.) The sugar cookies I've been testing don't help matters.

But before I get ahead of myself... Thanksgiving! I always feel sort of bad for Thanksgiving. It often gets pushed aside in the name of commercialism, though I'm happy to see that a number of stores, like REI and Patagonia, are keeping their doors closed this year on Thanksgiving Day so we can focus on what's important: friends, family, and food. Now that's a holiday I can get behind.

Thanksgiving food! To be completely honest, I never was thrilled about turkey. I didn't miss it last year, and I won't this year, either. The sides are usually pretty special, especially once we get into Midwest hotdish territory. But to me, it's always been about the pie. At our house, we never quite knew what to expect for Thanksgiving pie. Because while my Grandma Dee always cooks the feast, dessert is a family affair. Everybody brings something, potluck-style. Dee makes her pumpkin bars frosted with cream cheese icing. Wally and I bring our famous apple pie. Bop brings French Silk pie from the bakery. One year my Uncle Bill brought a jar of cheese food as his contribution, but that's another story. And of course, someone always makes a pumpkin pie.

Like most Americans, we feast well on Thanksgiving, and once the meal is done, we typically saunter to some overstuffed chairs in the front room to take in the remainder of the football game. At this point, stuffed though I may be, I begin the long wait until someone decides it's time for dessert. Usually Grandpa Mark, the resident sweet tooth, makes the call. "Would anyone like some coffee?" That's code for PIE.

Now, as some of you may have read, I recently created my first gluten-free vegan pumpkin pie, and it was just about almost the best pie I've ever had. We went heavy on the whipped cream and shared it with new and old friends on the night that the moon eclipsed. Immediately after, I set to work figuring out how to share this creation with all of you, and how on earth I could pare a pie recipe down to six steps or less. Pies are tricky, you see. They're a little bit folkloric, imperfect in their measurements, nitpicky in their techniques, and the best ones rely on seasonal ingredients that are fashioned into a filling. So I decided to go small. Itty-bitty, in fact. You might say "pocket-sized."

Introducing... PUMPKIN POCKET PIES. They're single-serving sized. They're hard to refuse. They don't make you feel icky. They're best topped with whipped cream! (But great without as well.) Their dough need not be refrigerated. Their filling need not be perfectly baked. Their dough need not be rolled! Their dough need not be fancily crimped! This is all really exciting, and I'm patting myself on the back for this one, because I'm pretty sure I got rid of all of the worst parts of pie baking and just kept all the fun.

PREP TIME: 45 minutes

BAKE TIME: 30 minutes for crust; 30 minutes for pies

ASSEMBLY TIME: 20 minutes

MAKES 12 pocket pies


1 3/4 c Bob's Red Mill All-Purpose Gluten-Free Baking Flour (gafava flour, sorghum flour, tapioca flour, potato starch, guar gum)

1/2 tsp salt

1/3 c coconut oil

4-6 tbsp ice cold water


2 c pumpkin puree, or one 15-ounce box

2/3 c maple syrup

2/3 c Native Forest coconut cream or any brand full-fat coconut milk

2 tbsp coconut oil

2 1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice

1/2 tsp sea salt

2 tbsp arrowroot flour

1 tsp agar agar powder


1 can Native Forest coconut cream, or cream skimmed from top of 1 can full-fat coconut milk refrigerated overnight

2 tbsp maple syrup



Preheat oven to 350F. Coat cupcake tin with oil. If making whipped cream, refrigerate one can coconut cream or coconut milk overnight, or in a pinch, freeze for 1 hour.


Meanwhile, whisk together flour and salt in a large bowl. With a fork, gradually mix in coconut oil, stirring constantly. The mixture will begin to form tiny balls of flour. Once oil is incorporated, mix in cold water bit by bit until mixture is able to stick together and form a ball of dough with your hands. You may need more or less water, depending on the consistency of your coconut oil. That's okay! Just be sure not to add too much, or the dough will gum. Set aside.


Place all filling ingredients in blender and blend until combined.


Form dough into 12 small balls. Press each ball into bottom and sides of cupcake tin to form a miniature crust. It should be quite thin, and make sure that you press it all the way up the sides. If you're feeling fancy, use edge of fork or butter knife to crimp crust edges. Bake crusts alone for 20 minutes.


Pour filling into each crust and smooth with a spoon or butter knife. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Remove pies from oven and cool on cooling rack for 30-45 minutes. Move pies to uncovered plate and refrigerate for at least one hour before serving.


To create whipped cream, place mixing blades and bowl in freezer. Remove coconut cream or milk from refrigerator and drain all coconut water from coconut cream. It should have separated. Remove bowl and blades from freezer, and whip coconut cream with maple syrup until soft peaks begin to form. If coconut cream is not whipping to desired consistency, place in freezer for 10 minutes, remove, and whip again. Serve pies with a mug of hot coffee, or as a follow-up to any feast.