Thursday, April 21, 2011

Review: Divine Pies (simulcast @

This review was written for my brother's website Make Me Some Pie and I decided to post it here as well for my readers.

The Portland Farmer’s Market has a surprising number of merchants selling gluten free baked goods these days. But how many are selling gluten free, dairy free, almost completely raw pies? So far I count only one, and that is Divine Pies.

Owner Alissa started making these pies when she was on a cleansing diet, eating strictly raw foods for a period of about 6 months. I was craving sweets like crazy, and I started checking all these books out of the library on raw food and raw dessert making. I went on this raw pie making kick, because I loved how they were so nutrient dense, full of protein, totally rich, not too sweet, and didn't require extensive sprouting or dehydrating like a lot of other raw foods,” she said.

Eventually she began developing recipes and testing them out with friends. Alissa went on to explain “it took off as a business after I brought the chocolate hazelnut pie to a friend's birthday party a few years ago. This girl who was at the party was thinking of starting a food cart in an old streetcar, and wanted to feature my pies there. Long story short, I ended up becoming her business partner and designing a whole raw foods, juice, smoothie and pie menu for the cart.”

The pies ended up being the streetcar’s most popular items, and people would flock to the location every week to find out what new and exciting pie was waiting for them. Eventually the popularity of the pies led her to leave the streetcar for a tent at the market. “I decided after a while that i didn't need to be sitting in the rain everyday of the week in an expensive flashy vehicle just to sell my pies. All I needed was an umbrella and a card table at the farmers market,” said Alissa.

A number of flavors were available at the market the day I went. One that was memorable was the white chocolate lavender cheesecake, and also there was a pretty good rendition of a key lime pie. But for my review, I had to go with the pie that started it all: Chocolate Hazelnut Cream Pie.

Presentation- I like the look of the pie. It is made in its own individual tin. You might not think it okay to eat a whole pie, but this one is little and (comparatively speaking) good for you. Ingredients are listed on the package and the list is pretty simple: Crust- hazelnuts, coconut flakes, dates, cinnamon, salt. Filling- fresh hazelnut milk, young coconut meat, dates, coconut oil, cacao, vanilla extract, lecithin (the only non raw ingredient), cinnamon and salt. Alissa told me the hazelnuts are from Freddy Guy’s hazelnuts, whose booth happens to be right next to her at the Farmer’s Market. She tries to source as many local ingredients as possible.

Crust- Okay, so if you are a pie purist, it isn’t really much of a crust. It isn’t rolled or baked, it isn’t even dough. However, it does provide the desired effect in terms of contrast in flavor and texture. Oh yeah, and it tastes good.

Filling- If you look at the ingredients, nothing seems to sound particularly creamy. I would have expected to see something like coconut milk or cream listed, but it was not. Despite that, the filling is very creamy- a nice velvety texture. This tastes like a good chocolate mousse. It is hard to believe that this was achieved without the aid of eggs, cream, sugar or milk. This certainly didn’t taste raw. It was sweet, but not overly so.

Overall rating- 4 out of 5- This is a good dessert. It isn’t pie in the strictest sense. I really enjoy a good crust, which was hard to achieve in this (mostly) raw pie. Still, it was very good. It requires skill to achieve these unique flavors without cooking anything, even more so without gluten or dairy, but Alissa pulls it off. Highly recommended.

You can find Divine Pies at the Portland (PSU) Farmer’s Market on Saturdays, as well as online at If a little personal size pie isn’t enough for you , special orders are available. Just let Alissa know a few days ahead of time and you can have a delicious full-size pie for your special event or just because. They serve about 10-12 people- so you might want to share.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Caramel Apple Pie Recipe- GF, DF, Refined Sugar Free

Caramel Sauce- see recipe here

Crust (adapted from Carol Fenster’s 1000 Gluten Free Recipes)

  • 1 cup gluten free flour mix (like Bob’s Red Mill or mix your own- I use a mix of Sorghum flour or Brown Rice Flour (35%), Cornstarch (35%- you could also use potato starch or arrowroot) and Tapioca Flour (35%)
  • ¾ cup tapioca flour
  • ½ cup sweet rice flour (also called glutinous rice flour*)
  • 3 tablespoons of palm sugar or granulated honey, divided
  • 1 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 1 teaspoon guar gum
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ cup Palm Shortening (non-hydrogenated- Spectrum Organic is what I use- try the new "butter" flavor)
  • ½ cup unsweetened Coconut Milk (I use So Delicious brand) or unsweetened rice milk
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 egg beaten with a touch of water or coconut milk (a tablespoon or so) for egg wash

Place flours, 2 tablespoons of palm sugar or granulated honey, xanthan and guar gums, salt, baking soda and shortening in a food processor and process until it resembles bread crumbs. Add the milk and lemon juice and process until the dough forms a ball. You might need to add slightly more liquid, but be careful not to add too much. Once most of the dough comes together, remove the dough and knead it until smooth. Shape it into evenly sized disks, wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour.


  • 6-8 pie apples depending on size (Granny Smith, Fuji, Jonagold, Crispin- I like to use a combination) peeled and cored
  • Lemon juice to coat slices
  • 2 tablespoons agave nectar
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Slice apples ¼ inch thick with a knife or mandolin. Immediately dredge slices in lemon juice to keep from browning. Remove from lemon juice and sprinkle with cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg, then mix lightly with the agave nectar until slices are evenly coated.

Assembling the pie

Roll out the pie crusts between 2 sheets of plastic wrap until they are just wide enough to hang over the edge of the pie pan. Make sure you keep an even thickness. Press the bottom crust into a nonstick pie pan. Place a single layer of apple filling, followed by caramel sauce, the continue alternating apples and caramel sauce until all filling is used (you probably will not use all the caramel sauce- save some for drizzling). Place the top crust on the pie. Press the two crusts together and form a decorative edge if desired. Brush with the egg wash and sprinkle with remaining palm sugar or granulated honey. Pierce the top with the end of a sharp knife to allow steam to vent. Place the pan on a baking sheet (nonstick would be good, or coat with foil as the caramel sauce can get messy). Preheat the oven to 375° and bake on the bottom rack for 15 minutes. Move the pie to the middle rack and bake another 25 to 30 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center goes through without effort and the top crust is golden brown. If the crust gets too brown before the filling is done cooking, cover the crust with foil until it is done. Cool on a wire rack completely before slicing and enjoying.

*Sweet rice flour is often labeled glutinous rice flour and can be found commonly in Asian markets. The rice it is derived from is also called sticky rice. It is called glutinous for these sticky properties. However, it does NOT contain gluten.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

I took a knife to a gun fight...

When I brought my very first gluten free, dairy free, refined sugar free pie to a pie contest fundraiser at my work, I felt very much like the guy in the movie the Untouchables who brought a knife to a gun fight. This was the very first pie I ever made since going gluten free. I mostly made it so I would have something I could eat since I knew I'd be surrounded by tempting, gluten filled, no doubt delicious pie. The other gluten free person in the office told me she enjoyed my pie, which made me happy. I tried it, and I liked it as well. But I was absolutely shocked when it was announced that my pie actually WON the pie contest. All the other entries had gluten, sugar and in some cases- glorious whipped cream. I took my knife into the gunfight and somehow I came out on top. I'll post some more info on the pie I entered soon. It was a Caramel Apple Pie, and now I can say it is "award-winning". Hee hee.

Updated: Caramel Sauce with a Twist: Refined Sugar Free and Dairy Free

Update: New and Improved Caramel Sauce

I'm sure some of you may have heard of Mimic Creme before, but I just discovered it the other day. This works much better for the caramel sauce than the previously used Soyatoo. And, as a bonus, this is now a soy free recipe!

1/2 cup palm sugar
1/2 cup light agave nectar
1 cup water
1/2 cup Mimic Creme (almond and cashew cream substitute, available @ Whole Foods)

Combine palm sugar, agave and water in a medium saucepan (don't use small it will bubble up). Bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium. Boil until most of the water has evaporated and the remaining liquid takes on a medium brown color. Remove from heat and stir in the Mimic Creme. Return to low heat and simmer 2 minutes until sauce is smooth. The sauce should coat the back of a spoon. It will thicken as it cools.