Some of my long-time readers may remember this post, in which I shared the recipe for Michael’s favourite dessert, fruit pizza. It’s a tradition for me to make it for him for his birthday. Sadly, since it contains both flour and dairy, it’s off Michael’s list of can-haves.
I put my thinking cap on, revved up the creative engine, and rolled up my sleeves (enough metaphors yet?) to work on making it Michael-friendly; that would mean gluten-free and vegan*.
The crust came out great on the first try, but I failed at my first attempt at the filling when I used coconut milk and agar-agar. Happily, I came up with a winner using cornstarch. Sometimes it takes a bit of experimentation and yes, even failure. But the end results are oh-so-sweet.
Fawn’s All-Vegan All-Yum Gluten-Free Fruit Pizza
(Edited to my latest refinements…)
FOR THE CRUST
- 1/4 cup margarine (Earth Balance or Becel)
- 1/4 cup coconut oil
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup brown rice flour
- 3 tbsp almond milk (or other non-dairy milk)
- 1/2 cup ground pecans
- 1/2 cup gluten-free oats
FOR THE FILLING
- 1 can (400 mL) coconut milk**
- 3 tbsp maple syrup
- 2 tbsp cornstarch
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- fruit for topping (strawberries, kiwis, bananas, canned sliced peaches, canned mandarin segments, raspberries, blueberries, or whatever else you have on hand)
**NOTE: Use good-quality coconut milk and don’t skimp on the fat. I recommend Thai Kitchen’s full-fat coconut milk,which is very sweet and luxuriously creamy.
FOR THE GLAZE
- 1/4 cup apricot jam or orange marmalade
- 2-3 tbsp hot water
- To make the crust, melt the margarine and coconut oil, then blend in sugar. Add flours, oats, pecans, and the mashed banana. Spread onto a pizza pan. I found that the oils made this batter difficult to spread using a wooden spoon, but using my hands to pat it in place worked very well. Bake at 375°F until the edges brown (around 10 minutes). Because of the banana, this crust is a bit cakier and takes longer to bake. After the edges browned, I used the broiler to crisp up and brown the top of the crust, which took just a few minutes. Watch carefully so that you don’t burn it! Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.
- The final crust was cookie-like and softened up to a nice chewy texture after being refrigerated with the topping on it. It did taste quite oat-y compared to the original, but I rather liked that. If you prefer less of an oat flavour, I think you could safely replace some or all of the oat flour with more rice flour.
- For the filling, shake the can of coconut milk to blend the fat and liquid. Pour it into a medium-sized pot and set the heat to medium. Dissolve the cornstarch in several tablespoons of cool water, then stir it into your coconut milk. Add the maple syrup and lemon juice. (You could also add vanilla, but I didn’t, as it doesn’t agree with Michael.) As the mixture heats up, be sure to stir continuously to avoid starch lumps. The cornstarch will start to work its magic, thickening up the coconut milk. When it reaches the consistency of pudding, remove from heat. Allow to cool before spreading it onto the crust. It will thicken up a little more when it has been refrigerated.
- After spreading the coconut milk onto the crust, decorate with your fruit toppings as desired.
- Mix the jam and hot water together. Press through a sieve if you desire a smoother consistency. Use a pastry brush or silicone basting brush to spread the glaze gently over the fruit. (The glaze seals off the fruit to keep it from oxidizing too quickly. It also adds sweetness, so even if you use less than perfectly sweet fruit, the final dessert will still be yummilicious.)
- Cover the whole pizza with saran wrap and chill until set, at least several hours or overnight.
- It’s also a good idea to put a bigger pizza pan underneath, if you have one, to catch any drippings from the glaze.
Although there are a few more ingredients to the crust, this recipe really isn’t any more difficult than the original fruit pizza, and it’s just as pretty and every bit as delicious. Even the fruit pizza addict agrees! (There would be photos of him enjoying the fruits of my labours, but of course, he scarfed it much too quickly for a camera to capture the action. Next time I’ll use the sport setting.)
*No, we’re not vegan, but when you can’t have eggs or dairy, pretty much any dessert you eat is going to be vegan. Unless you’re into chicken breast on your desserts…