So GoodDec/Jan 2012 Issue

Allergy-Friendly Holiday Pies

These allergy-friendly desserts are easy as pie

If you’re a little pie-phobic, especially when it comes to transforming a pie into its gluten-free, dairy-free cousin, take heart. I’ve made many discoveries about pie making over the years and the biggest is that it’s not difficult. The most challenging aspect is not lack of gluten (or dairy or eggs), but lack of confidence. Confidence comes from success—and I think you’ll find that here.

A gluten-free roll-out crust is easier to make than a regular crust. There’s no need to worry about overworking the dough. It won’t get tough like a wheat-based crust. In addition, it’s easy to patch gluten-free dough if it breaks apart. Just press it back together with your fingers. And what about preparing a scrumptious gluten-free graham cracker crust with a chocolate layer? Let’s just say, it’s easy as pie.

These no-fail recipes are delicious and they can be made ahead. So give pie a try!



Dairy-Free Flaky Pie Crust


Unless rolled too thin, this dough is not prone to tearing. If it does, pull it back into place and pat it down.

1½ cups + 2 tablespoons High-Protein Flour Blend
1 tablespoon potato flour (not potato starch)
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
¼ teaspoon salt
2-3 teaspoons sugar
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon (omit for Squash Pineapple Pie)
4 tablespoons dairy-free buttery sticks
4 tablespoons organic shortening
1 large egg or 2 tablespoons additional unsweetened applesauce
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
2 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce

1. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the knife blade, combine dry ingredients. Cut buttery stick and shortening into pieces. Sprinkle over dry ingredients. Pulse several times until pieces are the size of large peas.

2. In a separate bowl, combine egg, vinegar and applesauce. Add to flour mixture and blend just to combine. Carefully gather dough into a ball. (Watch your fingers as steel knife is very sharp.) Wrap in plastic wrap and chill at least 1 hour.

3. Place the dough between 2 layers of plastic wrap and press it down with heel of hand. Then gently roll it into a 9-inch circle. Start from the middle and roll out uniformly in all directions to form the circle. Rotate the dough in ¼ turns to help even-out crust to about ¼-inch thickness throughout.

4. Carefully peel off the top layer of plastic wrap. Turn the crust into the pan, slowly peeling off the backing.

Each serving contains 190 calories, 13g total fat, 6g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 26mg cholesterol, 175mg sodium, 17g carbohydrate, 1g fiber, 2g protein. 

For Low-Fat Pie Crust, replace 3 tablespoons buttery sticks or shortening with an equal amount unsweetened applesauce.



Squash Pineapple Pie

Photo by Oksana Charla

Squash Pineapple Pie

Allergy-Friendly Squash Pineapple Pie


In a restaurant kitchen where I once apprenticed, the chef used butternut squash to make her pumpkin pies. “Squash has the same color and texture but it’s sweeter and more flavorful,” she explained. This allergy-friendly recipe is a bit more robust than traditional pumpkin pie owing to the squash puree. Dried pineapple, if used, adds wonderful pizzazz.

1 (15-ounce) can pure squash puree
½ cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 large eggs, lightly beaten, or ¼ pound (4 ounces) tofu + 1 table- spoon arrowroot
1 cup evaporated milk or coconut milk
¼ cup apple juice
¾ cup chopped dried sweetened pineapple chunks, optional
1 Flaky Pie Crust, uncooked

Photo by Oksana Charla

1. Preheat oven to 425˚F.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together squash puree, brown sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, salt, ginger and nutmeg.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs (or egg replacement), milk and apple juice. Beat into squash mixture. Fold in pineapple pieces. Pour into uncooked crust.

4. Set pie on center rack in preheated oven and bake 20 minutes. Lower heat to 375˚F and bake an additional 45 minutes or until filling is set. If crust browns too quickly, cover edges loosely with foil.

Each serving contains 380 calories, 17g total fat, 8g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 147mg cholesterol, 381mg sodium, 53g carbohydrate, 1g fiber, 6g protein. 


Apple Custard Crumb Pie

Photo by Oksana Charla

Apple Custard Crumb Pie


This recipe’s creamy custard center offers a unique and luscious twist on traditional apple pie. Replacing the sour cream with a dairy-free substitute works well.

Streusel Topping

½ cup packed light brown sugar
¾ cup all-purpose flour blend of choice
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter or dairy-free butter replacement, cut into small pieces


5 McIntosh apples
⅔ cup low-fat sour cream, dairy-free sour cream or coconut yogurt
1 large egg, lightly beaten, or 3 additional tablespoons sour cream + 1 tablespoon cornstarch or potato starch
½–¾ cup sugar, to taste
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour blend of choice or rice flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
1 Flaky Pie Crust, uncooked

1. To make Streusel Topping, combine all topping ingredients in a food processor and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal. Reserve.

2. Preheat oven to 350˚F.

3. Peel and thinly slice apples.

4. In a large mixing bowl, combine sour cream and egg (or egg replacement) and beat well.

5. In another bowl, combine sugar, flour, cinnamon and salt. Whisk into sour cream mixture. Add apple slices, tossing to coat.

6. Spread mixture over uncooked crust. Sprinkle Streusel Topping over the top.

7. Set pie on a cookie sheet for ease of handling. Place on middle rack in preheated oven and bake 55 to 60 minutes or until filling is bubbly and topping is brown. If crust browns too quickly, cover edges loosely with foil.

Each serving contains 555 calories, 26g total fat, 13g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 134mg cholesterol, 436mg sodium, 80g carbohydrate, 3g fiber, 4g protein. 



Gluten-Free Chocolate Graham Cracker Crust


This easy, tasty crust begs for a pudding or mousse-textured filling. It can be made several days ahead and stored in the refrigerator until ready to use.

1 cup gluten-free graham cracker crumbs
3 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa
¼ cup sugar
3 tablespoons melted butter or dairy-free spread
½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 tablespoons light cream or coconut milk

1. Preheat oven to 325˚F. Lightly grease the bottom of an 8- or 9-inch springform or tart pan with removable bottom.

2. Combine graham cracker crumbs, cocoa and sugar. Add melted butter and stir until crumbs are moistened. Press mixture into the bottom of prepared pan. Place on the middle rack in preheated oven and bake 12 minutes for a 9-inch pan, 15 minutes for an 8-inch pan. Remove from oven and cool.

3. In a microwave-safe bowl, combine chocolate chips and cream. Heat on medium for 1 minute or until chips are softened. Blend together until smooth. Spread mixture over cooled crust. Chill until set.

Each serving contains 140 calories, 10g total fat, 6g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 14mg cholesterol, 20mg sodium, 17g carbohydrate, 1g fiber, 1g protein.



Cranberry Mousse Pie

Photo by Oksana Charla

Cranberry Mousse Pie

Cranberry Mousse Pie


If you want a refreshing way to enjoy cranberries, this not-too-sweet dessert is just the thing. It’s as festive as it is delicious. Decorate with whipped cream or dairy-free whipped topping. Garnish with chocolate shavings and cranberries.

½ pound fresh or frozen cranberries
½ cup sugar, divided
¼ cup orange juice
1½ teaspoons dried orange peel
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
2 tablespoons Triple Sec, other orange liqueur or additional orange juice
½ tablespoon unflavored gelatin, softened in 1 tablespoon orange juice
1 cup whipping cream or dairy- free whipped topping*
1 Chocolate Graham Cracker Crust

1. In a medium saucepan, combine cranberries, ¼ cup sugar, orange juice, orange peel and ground ginger. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Lower heat to medium low and cook, stirring frequently until cranberries break down, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat.

2. Add Triple Sec and stir. Let cool slightly.

3. Warm gelatin and orange juice mixture in the microwave for 10 seconds or until it liquefies. Pour into the cranberry mixture in a steady stream, stirring while adding. Scrape into a bowl and chill about 20 minutes.

4. Beat cream and remaining ¼ cup sugar until stiff. Fold into cranberry mixture and spoon into Chocolate Graham Cracker Crust. Chill at least 3 hours before serving.

Each serving contains 268 calories, 15 total fat, 9g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 34mg cholesterol, 26mg sodium, 35g carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 2g protein. 

*TIP If using sweetened dairy-free whipped topping, omit ¼ cup sugar.



Nesselrode Pie


This old-fashioned dessert is a New York holiday tradition that has all but disappeared. The original seems to hail from France where it contained chestnut puree. Garnish with whipped cream or dairy-free whipped topping and chocolate curls. [For dairy-free, egg-free versions, click here.]

3 tablespoons Triple Sec, other orange liqueur or orange juice
¾ cup finely diced candied fruit
1½ cups heavy cream, divided
3 large egg yolks
½ cup sugar, divided
1 tablespoon unflavored gelatin
⅓ cup orange juice
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
⅓ cup pasteurized egg whites, beaten until stiff
1 Chocolate Graham Cracker Crust
- Chocolate shavings, for garnish

1. Pour Triple Sec over the fruit and let fruit soak for one hour.

2. Bring ¾ cup cream to a simmer.

3. To make a custard, beat egg yolks with ¼ cup sugar until pale yellow. Whisk in part of the hot cream; then pour egg mixture into the remainder of the cream and whisk over low heat until the mixture is thickened and coats the back of a wooden spoon.

4. In a small microwave-safe bowl, sprinkle gelatin over the orange juice. When gelatin has absorbed the juice, warm it in the microwave for 15 seconds or until melted. Whisk gelatin mixture into the cream and eggs mixture. Refrigerate until custard has begun to set. (It should be thick but not totally set.)

5. Beat remaining cream until stiff. Add vanilla and remaining ¼ cup sugar and beat briefly.

6. Beat egg whites until stiff.

7. Fold fruit and Triple Sec mixture into cooled custard.

8. Fold beaten egg whites and whipped cream into custard mixture. Pour into prepared Chocolate Graham Cracker Crust. Chill until firm.

Each serving contains 355 calories, 20g total fat, 12g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 123 mg cholesterol, 60mg sodium, 43g carbohydrate, 1g fiber, 4g protein. 

For Dairy-Free Nesselrode Pie, use ¾ cup dairy-free milk of choice to prepare the custard (step 3). Use 1½ cups dairy-free whipped topping in place of whipped cream. If whipped topping is sweetened, omit additional ¼ cup sugar.

For Egg-Free Nesselrode Pie, replace custard (prepared in step 3) with 1⅓ to 1½ cups dairy-free, egg-free vanilla pudding (Shopping List, below). Use 1½ teaspoons gelatin and 1½ tablespoons orange juice in step 4; combine and add to pudding. Omit egg whites in step 6 and fold in an additional ½ cup whipped cream.

Food editor Beth Hillson ( is author of Gluten-Free Makeovers, available at



High-Protein Flour Blend


1 cup amaranth flour
1 cup brown rice flour
¾ cup cornstarch or potato starch (not potato flour)
½ cup tapioca starch/flour

1. Combine ingredients. Store in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator until used.

Each ¼ cup contains 128 calories, 1g total fat, 0g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0g cholesterol, 4mg sodium, 28g carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 2g protein.

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