I’m a statistician for a living, so it seems amiss that I didn’t even celebrate Pi Day on my blog last year. Well, this year a new tradition starts! I made these adorable pecan “pi” pop tarts using my favorite vegan pop tart dough.
I don’t do anything in my profession that actually involves the use of the number pi. I knew pretty early on in my studies that I didn’t really enjoy geometry, but I always found strange enjoyment in memorizing things. So when I was in college I decided I wanted to memorize a bunch of digits of pi. I ended up coming across (fyi: this link has autoplaying music) a Pi Song with a lady literally just singing digits of pi continuously until the song fades out; I loaded it onto my iPod and walked around listening to it constantly. After some number days, I memorized the entire song, which was exciting. But when it came time to break out my party trick and recite the digits of pi to impress people, I discovered that I was really only able to recite them along with the music. Take away the music and I knew only 20-25 of them or so. The brain works in interesting ways!
Anyway, shut up Shannon, this isn’t a math blog! These days, the extent of my interaction with pi is whatever corny celebration we do at work on March 14th. I made these pecan pi pop tarts because I am not skilled enough in the craft of baking to make a legit pie with a patterned crust.
One reason that this pop tart dough is so awesome is that it’s totally suitable for people who are too lazy or casual of cooks to make a “real” pie crust with cold fat delicately worked into it. The obvious drawback is that these aren’t flaky, but they’re still perfectly crisp and sweet. All you have to do is mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, roll out the dough, and chill it. After being chilled, it remains very easy to work with and cut into various shapes which is why it was perfect for making little pi designs on the pastries.
Pecan pie season may have kinda ended a couple of months ago, but here in casa de la Yup, it’s Vegan, nutty toasted pecans never go out of style. The filling for these pecan pi pop tarts is made out of fragrant pecans folded into a luscious date caramel. (Tip: buy pitted dates at Costco, they keep for quite a while and the price there is really good). The white glaze is just a classic sugar glaze and the brown glaze is made with coconut sugar and brandy. They’re also totally good without glaze, which is probably important to note since frosting the pi shapes was a bit of an endeavor.
- ½ c. packed pitted dates, soaked in warm water for at least an hour
- 1 tsp. coconut oil (I use refined coconut oil)
- ¼ tsp. vanilla extract
- big pinch of sea salt
- ¼ c. toasted pecans (I buy them raw and toast them freshly for recipes)
- ½ c. + 2 tb. all-purpose flour
- ½ c. whole wheat pastry flour
- ¼ tsp. salt
- 3 tb. maple syrup
- 1 and ½ tsp. vanilla extract
- 3 tb. coconut oil, room temperature (I use refined coconut oil)
- 1 and ½ tb. plain, unsweetened nondairy milk
- ⅓ c. cane sugar
- 1 tsp. cornstarch
- 1 tb. plain, unsweetened nondairy milk (plus more as needed)
- ⅓ c. coconut sugar or brown sugar
- 1 tsp. cornstarch
- ½ tb. brandy
- ½ tb. plain, unsweetened nondairy milk (plus more as needed)
- Add the dates to a blender along with the coconut oil, vanilla extract and salt, and blend until very smooth. Add a splash of nondairy milk if needed to blend.
- Add half of the toasted pecans to the blender and combine until the pecans are crumbly.
- Add the rest of the toasted pecans and pulse just a few times to break them into smaller pieces. Set the filling aside.
- Combine the flours and salt in a medium bowl.
- In a small, separate bowl, whisk together the maple syrup, vanilla, coconut oil, and milk until smooth.
- Add the wet ingredients into the bowl with the flour, and stir until fully combined.
- Prepare two gallon-sized Ziploc bags. Divide the dough in half and place each dough half inside a bag. Using a rolling pin or other weighty cylindrical object (I used my stainless steel water bottle), roll out the dough until it is completely flat in a rectangle shape inside the bag. Place in the refrigerator for an hour.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone liner, and take the dough out of the refrigerator. It should be a firm sheet of dough after chilling. If making the 'pi' adornments, also get a small bowl of water ready.
- Use kitchen scissors to cut the Ziploc bags off of the dough, and use a knife to score the dough into rectangles of whatever size you like. Reserve two of the rectangles and cut them into tiny strips to make the 'pi' shapes, if desired.
- On half of the rectangles, spread a thick layer of pecan pie filling, while leaving ample room around the edges.
- For each pastry, lift one of the other rectangles of dough and lay it on top of one of the rectangles with filling on it. Use a fork to press around the sides and attach the top to the bottom, and place on the baking sheet.
- For making a 'pi' shape, cut three little strips of dough and lightly brush them with water to stick them onto a filled pop tart.
- Bake the pop tarts for about 16 minutes, or until the edges are lightly browned and the middle is fully cooked. Once they are cool enough to handle, transfer them to a cooling rack.
- In a dry blender, or a coffee grinder, blend the sugar and cornstarch together until the sugar is completely powdered. Transfer to a small bowl, and stir in the specified liquid, adding nondairy milk as needed to get a still-thick but very spreadable mixture.
- Repeat with the other glaze recipe if making both.
- Brush or dip the glaze onto the cooled pop tarts as desired, and let set for 10 minutes before eating.