Salted Date and Pecan Pie


It seems so obvious but these two are a natural match. During the holidays, dates are added to breads and other confections for sweetness but the pecan pie is really the best use of my date. The prospect of complementing a roasted salty pecan with this fruit got me excited from the start. In a pecan pie I want richness, balance of flavor, creamy crunchy texture, and a buttery crust. The trick is doing it all without hitting a oversugared level of super sweetness. The dates in this recipe get us there and in my opinion with a little more character than the traditional pecan pie recipe, of which I am an enthusiast. I add flake salt to the finished top layer after glazing with maple syrup to create the final note, the one that gives balance and complements the natural caramel sweetness of the date filling.

This Thanksgiving or when your party guests are looking for a dessert, this pie will not disappoint. It has a rich creamy body with the caramel notes from dates and a flaky crunchy crust and just the right amount of pecaniness. Whip some cream as a topping or pair with good vanilla bean ice cream for a cooling contrast perhaps with just a dash of cinnamon. THe adult version can include a shot of bourbon or orange liquor into the whipped cream for a little holiday spark.

I am certain that the pie lovers in your life will be enthralled and not much will remain so get your slice set aside early, or take the other route and simply prepare to make a second one for yourself.

Happy Thanksgiving!
Ian and Mariana


Salted Date and Pecan Pie

Makes a 12″ Pie

For the Crust:

2 1/4 cup unbleached organic all-purpose flour
2 sticks butter, like, organic cultured butter from Organic Valley, Kerrygold Irish butter, Plugra.  Get the best quality you can find, it’s the holidays splurge, it will really make the difference.
2 good pinches sea salt
1/2-3/4 cup ice-cold water

1 egg to egg wash the pie crust.

For the filling:

12 oz Medjool Dates pitted
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 cup grade A Maple syrup
3 tablespoons butter
3 teaspoons Nielsen Massey vanilla extract or one vanilla bean
3 eggs
1 cup toasted pecans roughly chopped
About 75 RAW Pecan Halves,choose the prettiest ones, to decorate the top.(about 1 -1/4 cups)
2 tablespoons Maple syrup to brush the top once the pie is baked, and some flaky sea salt to sprinkle.

Preparation method:

1. Start by making the pie crust. Check this link for instructions.
2. Roll up your pie crust making a circular dough about 18″ in diameter and about a little less than a 1/4″ inch thick. Place the pie dish above your crust to make sure you have enough extra dough on the sides to create a nice thick border. you must have about 2 1/2 inches extra all around the pie circle. Fold crust into fourths for easy transfer to a glass pie dish.

3. Unfold the crust and gently press the sides of the pie crust into the bottom of the pie dish for a better fit. THis is very important step to ensure you don’t have any gaps or air pockets between the bottom and the sides of the pie crust. It also will ensure you no side shrinkage.

4. With some scissors trim the un even part of the hanging crust, remember ing you need to have at least 2 inches hanging from the lip of the pie, to create a nice thick pie border.

5. Roll inward the edges of the pie dough to create a cord all around the border of your pie.


6. Using 2 of your knuckles in one hand wide open and one folded knuckle on the other hand lightly press the edge of the pie crust cord to create the wavy with your thumb in the middle of each curve to ensure the edge of the crust is on top of the pie dish edge. See photo below.

7. Dock your pie crust bottom with a fork. Refrigerate pie crust for 15 minutes. While pre-heating the oven at 375F

8. Place some wrinkled parchment paper and some pie weights over the pie dough crust and blind bake the crust for 20-25 minutes.

9. Meantime make the pie filling. On a small pot bring water, salt and dates to a boil. Turn off and set aside, let the dates get soft about 5 minutes. Once dates are soft, add the baking soda and with an immersion blender purée. Transfer this thick pure into a bowl, add the Maple syrup, butter, vanilla and stir until well combined. Check the temperature of the filling it should be warm to the touch but not hot,then proceed and whisk into the mixture one egg at the time. Last add the chopped toasted pecans. Set filling aside.

Date-Pecan-Pie_Date-fillingDate-Pecan-Pie_Making-the-pecan-date-fillinDate-Pecan-Pie_Pecan-date-Filling 10. After 25 minutes, check the pie crust. the crust should have some light yellow color, and edges should barely show a few spots of golden brown. Remove from oven and promptly apply egg wash, all over the bottom of the crust, sides and edges. Add the date-pecan filling while crust and filling still slightly warm.

11. Carefully decorate the top of the pie with the pecans halves. You can crete your own design.For this one, I started form the outside edge working all around and then placing pecan halves towards the center.
12. I used my handy dandy pie edge protector like this one, but you can use some aluminum foil to cover the edges of the pie to avoid extra browning and get overly baked.


13. Carefully place the pie into a baking sheet and bake for 35-40 minutes at 350F.
14. Check pie at 30 minutes, center should have puffed up and it will fill soft and tender to the touch but not wet. Get it out of the oven and place it on a rack onto of the stop to cool down. Once its cool brush some maple syrup on the top to give some shine and glaze to the pecans, and sprinkle some flaky salt.



Cracks on top of the pie are ok, don’t get upset if your pie shows a crack, usually they vanish once the pie its out of the oven, cools off and settle a bit. If not.. there is nothing that whipped cream or ice cream can cover up. No worries be happy!, after all you are making a scratch made pie, feel proud of yourself, every body will appreciate!

This kind of pie is best the day after baked. So yes, you can make it ahead of time, tonight or tomorrow, or early in the morning on thanksgiving day and by dinner time it should be settled and very easy to slice and serve.

Keep pie at room temperature,serve with any delicious classic vanilla bean ice cream, A dash of cinnamon. Whipped cream with some orange or coffee liquor added when whipping the cream will add a great hump.



Enjoy! Happy Thanksgiving!xoxo

Music Pairing: Miles Davis – Cookin’

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Pumpkin Cream Cheese Pie with Pecan Crust A feel good alternative Gluten Free and Sugar Free


Its coming… It’s here… the most wonderful time of the year, you can drop the ball, and roll around with it or you can just keep it simple and delicious.

No guilt trips, no counting calories, just decide what makes you feel good before, during and after you eat it. I think that will be my mantra for the season and the year to come. I do not know if I will survive but I know that at least by asking this question it will make me chose better options with happy endings and no regrets like this Pumpkin Cream Cheese Pie with Pecan Crust. To tell you the truth, when I was creating the recipe I was a little skeptical about if was going to be a recipe that will stand up side by side to all the goodness on a Thanksgiving table. Because after all it is “that time of the year” to be grateful and enjoy.
Trying a slice, this delicious creamy pumpkin pie that made me feel good while eating, before, during and after. I was hooked.


I decided to use simple ingredients, roasting my own pumpkin pure, because that’s the way I like it. Then I made a gluten-free crust, using pecans, almonds, and cinnamon. This is a no-bake filling pie, the only component that needs around 15 minutes of baking its the crust. The rest it’s just mixing and refrigeration.
A few hours later, I had a firm and creamy pumpkin pie, with the nuttiest crust, plus cinnamon and warm spices that scream Thanksgiving. Heck yeah!

I used Svetia to sweeten up the filling, which it gave the filling a natural sweetness. Svetia is a natural plant based sweetener that uses stevia plant extract as base for its sweet source. You can click here for more information. What I like about this settle sweetness is that you can taste the pumpkin flavor in combination with the warm spices with out being overly sweet.

I believe this pie its a great alternative, to include in your holiday season repertoire and feel good about it before, during and after; Or make it to pamper those special guests needs, by making something delicious they will remember.

I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

For the recipe you will need:

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Pie with Pecan Crust

A feel good alternative Gluten Free and Sugar Free

Makes a 10”round 2” deep Pie

For the Crust:

1 ¼ cups Raw Almonds
1 ¼ cups Raw Pecans
2 Tablespoons extra virgin coconut oil
1 Tablespoon Maple syrup
2 dashes Saigon cinnamon

For the Filling:

1 ¼ cups pumpkin puree* If you need instructions on how to make your own click here
12 oz Cream Cheese room temperature
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract – Nielsen Massey
1 teaspoon Saigon Cinnamon
½ teaspoon Allspice
¼ teaspoon Nutmeg
¼ teaspoon powder ginger
1 pinch of salt.

5-7 Svetia Sweetener envelopes. I will highly recommend to start with 4 envelopes, taste, and then add one envelope at the time according to your taste.

Preparation Method:

1. Make the crust. Preheat the oven at 375F. In a food processor, place the almonds and the pecans. Pulse at least 10 times until resembles coarse sand. Transfer into a bowl and add the coconut oil, the cinnamon and maple syrup. Using your hand, mix well until looks like a coarse paste and when you press it in your hand stays together.


2. Using some coconut oil, rub a 10” ceramic or glass pie dish, and place the nut paste. With your fingers star to evenly distribute the crust. With the help of a flat measuring cup or a flat glass, or ramekin, press some of the crust against the edges of the pie dish leaving about 1/4” all around pie edge.

Pumpkin-Cream-Cheese-Pie-with-Pecan-Glutten-Free-Pecan-Pie-Crust 3. Bake for 12-15 minutes until it has a deep golden mahogany brown.Check the crust at 12 minutes.
If the edges are browning faster than the center of the crust, cover the edges with aluminum foil, lower the temperature for 350 and keep baking the crust for 3-5 minutes until the center looks baked and has a rich toasty nuts color.

4. Remove crust from oven and immediately lightly brush it with some bitten egg wash, to seal the crust. The heat from the crust will cook the egg wash really fast so no worries at all about rawness. This step its very important, because it will avoid the crust from getting soggy once you pour the filling.
Let the crust cool completely on a rack. Meantime start making the filling.


5. On a large bowl place the cream cheese and whip until light and smooth with a hand blender.
6. Add 4 envelopes of Svetia and whip for 1 minute.

Pumpkin-Cream-Cheese-Pie-with-Pecan-Crust-Svetia-Sweetened! 7. Add the pumpkin puree, vanilla, spices and salt whip until well incorporated and fluffy. At this point taste for sweetness. Add 2-3 more envelopes, I used 7 according to how sweet I like it.Pumpkin-Cream-Cheese-Pie-with-Pecan-Crust-No-Bake-Pumpking-filling_Yes-more-please! 8. Once the crust is completely cool, add the pumpkin-cream cheese filling and using an offset spatula, smooth out the top. Place the pie into the refrigerator for 30 minutes, then cover with a plastic wrap and let it set at least 6 hours. It is best if its chilled over night.


9. When ready to serve, whip up some heavy cream, adding a dash of vanilla extract, cinnamon, and some Svetia for sweetness about ½ an envelope, just a hint. and dollop up your pie.

Cut pie slices, cleaning the knife in between each cut, to get a clean nice sharp slice, and serve with a generous spoonful of the cinnamon whipped cream. Enjoy!


This post was sponsored by SVETIA.US
The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.*

Thank you SVETIA! for providing the product and sponsorship.

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French Onion Bagel Soup


Soup season it’s here and the soup I’m craving: French Onion Soup, a classic of classics, deep mahogany broth, soft sweet onions, and that crusty bread soaking all the juices and keeping afloat the most amazing crusty cheesy cloud on top of the soup. A wintery elixir. There is something cosmic about a cold day and simmering pot of soup on the stove. The House is warm with a cozy smell, a sweater, some crusty bread, warming your hands by holding the cup is just one of the best feelings…wiiihkkk…Now can you hear the wicked record on the back?… I just remembered we live in Texas.

This “El Niño” is driving me crazy. Almost 6 months of summer here in Austin to much Summer for me I wish I could be in Yakutsk for the weekend and then come back to be able to appreciate this Texas weather… But for now I’m just in need of cool down so I can make soup, lots of soup.

Dreaming with cold weather while the thermometer reads 80 F… I’m making soup anyway…We will crank down the AC just for tonight and pretend it’s cold outside… Adjust your AC accordingly.  Now with the right temperature (thermometer reads 70F), Lets cook!…

Well, here we are revamping the unrevampable, and I thought about giving this classic French onion soup a little twist. I used a bagel instead of the crusty bread. Yes, a crusty chewy pumpernickel bagel toasted, with a bellybutton that helps the steam escape from the soup and let’s the oozing cheese talk to the soft onions below. The good thing about using a bagel is that stays crunchy for longer and it madly absorbs the oniony broth.  It is ridiculously good and satisfying.

Through out the recipe you will find a couple of tips and tricks that I’ve learned to use when making onion soup. I know they will help you make the best onion soup you can make, or to improve the one you already make.

For now, this is all what I can tell you about one of my favorite soups…

Just relax and cook. I promise all your efforts will be rewarded on the first spoonful, and there will be no words just slurps.


For this recipe you will need:

French Onion Bagel Soup

Serves 4

2 lbs small-medium yellow sweet onions
2 tablespoons butter
1 glug extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon white flour
1 tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar

1/2 cup extra dry Vermouth or any dry white wine of your preference.
1 generous splash of Sherry Vinegar
3-4 generous dashes Worcestershire sauce
4 cups Beef Broth sodium free* I like to use sodium free if store boughten.
2 dry bay leafs
1 sprig of thyme
1 teaspoon kosher Salt or Salt de Fume to give an extra layer of flavor.
4-6 cranks of fresh Black Pepper

Top with:

2 Pumpernickel bagels cut in half . Sliver the closed end on each half to expose the grain of the bagel, and toast.
I choose Pumpernickle Ian choose Onion! any flavor that rocks your boat will work.

2-3 oz per person of Gruyère cheese shredded.
Buy the real deal, the imported one. I used a Swiss brand with a lot of earthy and nutty notes, it melted beautifully leaving a great crust. Go the extra mile its worth it. If you do not care for Gruyère, try some French variations like Comté or Beauford.

Preparation Method:

1.One of the most important things to remember when making onion soup its how to cut the onions.”Cut the onions in segments”. Against all french techniques on how to cut an onion, remove top and bottom, cut in half-length wise peel the outside coarse layer, then flat surface down facing the board, and slice lengthwise radially like thin orange segments about 1/4″inch or little less. See photo below. This step for me its crucial to make sure you don’t have onion mush as they caramelize and cook. Each segment stays soft and creamy with out disintegrating while soup its simmering away. I also like it this way so you don’t have long stringy slippery onion strings. Chose small to medium size onions, they are sweeter and friendlier on your spoon when eating.

2. Chop the onions, following the instructions above.

3.Bring to a medium heat a cast iron enamel pot, add butter and a glug of extra virgin olive oil. Add the sliced onions making sure to separate all the segments with your fingers. Toss carefully, lower the heat to medium slow, cover and cook for 10 minutes. Stir now and then.
4. Remove lid and stir; crank up the heat to medium high to evaporate most of the moisture, cook for 3-4 minutes stirring now and then to avoid onions from burning. You want to caramelize them. To help them caramelize add a tablespoon of Balsamic vinegar at this stage, and cook for another 5 minutes or until they look soft, and have develop their sweetness and they have a deep golden brown color.
5.Once the onions are caramelized, evenly sprinkle one tablespoon of flour and toss for 2 minutes scraping the bottom of the pan.
6. Add the Dry Vermouth the sherry vinegar, toss and let the alcohol evaporate.
7. Add the beef broth little by little stir constantly. Then, add Worcestershire sauce, aromatic dry herbs, salt and pepper.
8. Simmer for 25-30 minutes until the onions taste and look soft and they have absorbed the flavors from the broth. Taste and adjust for salt and pepper.

9. Once soup its ready, divide the soup into 4 oven safe soup bowls. I used this special onion soup bowls with handles. It will be around 3 ladles of soup per bowl. Place the soup bowls into a baking sheet tray with a lip,(to avoid soup spillage in your oven. This will also make it easier to place the soups in and out of the oven.) French-Onion-Bagel-Soup_Ready-to-serve!

10. Then place half a toasted bagel into each bowl and top each with 2-3 ounces of the shredded Gruyère cheese. Crack some black pepper and place under the oven broiler for 3-4 minutes until cheese is melted and its crusty and golden brown. Watch at all times they can burn on a blink of an eye! Pull the tray out of the oven and place the bowls on an under plate before serving. Warn your guests for HOT bowls and extra hot soup.

French-Onion-Bagel-Soup_Toasted-bagel French-Onion-Bagel-Soup_Gruyere-cheese-cheezee-it-up!French-Onion-Bagel-Soup_Soup-for-2-or-4French-Onion-Bagel-Soup_Soup-for-2-or-4_Yes,-more-please!French-Onion-Bagel-Soup_Mmmm_Yes,-more-please!

French Onion Bagel Soup

Our Texas dream night winterland … Enjoy!

Music Pairing: Yann Tiersen – La Veillée

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Day of the Dead Amaranth Skull Cookies


This year to celebrate Day of the Dead, I decided to make some cookies utilizing ingredients that were more commonly used in more traditional Mexican cooking. I used Amaranth and an assortment of seeds and dried fruits to decorate the cookies. Amaranth has being cultivated in Mexico by the Aztecs 8,000 years ago. It was a great source of nutrition for them. The real value on amaranth was and is its seeds. These tiny little seeds are loaded with 12 to 17% protein and are high in lysine and essential amino acids. Amaranth seeds are also high in Calcium, Iron, Magnesium and many more minerals and vitamins. I think we should start looking at this plant and its nutritional value with wider eyes. Puffed amaranth seeds taste like a nutty popcorn. They are soft, tender and hold a great natural flavor.


The intention behind the natural ingredients was to make a delicious cookie without utilizing too much sugar and to avoid the artificial coloring which in my opinion can affect flavor. I left those bright colors for the decorations on the altar and I like to leave the edible food more natural. Beside the looks, these seeds and nuts when baked into the cookies gives them a delicious flavor. I used pepitas for the flower decoration on the eyes, chocolate chips and dry cranberries for the eyeballs. For the teeth: Pine nuts and Sunflower seeds, almonds for the nose, and cashews for the gentlemen’s mustaches. These cookies are just the perfect treat for Day of the Dead. They are sweet but not overly sweet, just the way I like them. Amaranth gives the cookie a great texture and lots of seeds that give flavor and character to this buttery and nutty cookies.

It is really fun to decorate with seeds, utilizing their different shapes and combining colors and textures. Use your imagination and have fun. I think this can be a fun project that can involve your kiddos, whether you believe in tradition or if you are Mexican and have forgotten about this great tradition, this can be a great project to get in touch with your roots and pass along some history and memories with your kids.


Lets get started!, for the cookies you will need…

Day of the Dead Amaranth Skull Cookies

Makes 14-16 / 4″ cookies

For the dough:

2 sticks butter room temperature
1/2 cup melted piloncillo syrup*
1 stick of Mexican Cinnamon
The zest of 1 large lime
The juice of 1/2 lime about 2 teaspoons
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup unbleached All purpose flour
1 cup unbleached whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup puffed amaranth

To decorate:

1 egg whisked with 1 teaspoon of water
1/4 cup raw pepitas-pumpkin seeds, for around the eyes and nose
1 Tablespoon Raw almonds, for the gentleman nose
2 Tablespoons Pine nuts, for the teeth
1 Tablespoon Cashews, for mustaches
2 Tablespoon Golden Raisins, for eyeballs
1 Tablespoon Cranberries, for eyeballs, lips, and chicks
1 Tablespoon Dark chocolate chips, for eyeballs
1 Tablespoon White chocolate chips, for eyeballs

Preparation method:

1. In a small pot place the piloncillo cone, cinnamon stick and 1/2 cup water. Heat up and bring to slow simmer until all the Piloncillo cone has dissolved, and it resembles to the consistency of a thick syrup almost like honey. Let it cool off while you prepare the rest of the steps. See picture below.

2. In a medium size bowl, using a hand mixer, whip the butter until pale. Add the lime zest, lime juice, vanilla extract, and the cooled Piloncillo syrup. Whip for 2 more minutes with the hand mixer.

Day-of-the-Death_Amaranth-cookies-whip-butter-lemon-zest-and-piloncillo-syrupDay-of-the-Death_Amaranth-cookies-Whiping-the-butter-for-cookies3. Sift both flours and salt over the butter mixture. Using the hand blender on low, mix until flour is incorporated, about 15 seconds. Add the puffed amaranth and whip for 5 seconds until its incorporated. Do not over mix.

Day-of-the-Death_Amaranth-cookies-sift-the-flours Day-of-the-Death_Amaranth-cookies-Puffed-amaranth
4. Dump the cookie mixture into a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. With a flat spatula spread the cookie dough into an even rectangle. Place another piece of parchment on top of the spread out cookie dough. With a rolling-pin evenly flatten the dough until it’s about 3/4″ thick.


5. Carefully slide the papered cookie dough into the baking sheet and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes, 30 minutes its best.
6. Once the cookie dough is chilled, prepare a baking sheet lined with a silpad, or parchment paper. Place the cookie dough into a flat clean surface, peel the top parchment paper and cut out the cookies with a skull shaped cookie cutter. Place the shaped dough into the tray about 1/2 inch separation in between each cookie. By now you should have about 14-15 uncooked cookies. Gather the rest of the dough and gently press it together, place the parchment paper on top, roll it up and refrigerate for next batch.Day-of-the-Death_Amaranth-cookies-making-cookies-cut-out-shapes

7. Now the FUN begins! brush each cookie with some egg wash and start decorating the cookies. Make sure when you place each seed to GENTLY press into the cookie. See picture below.


8. Final, lightly brush the cookies for a second time with egg wash. This will protect the seeds from burning when baking and it will give the cookies a beautiful glossy finish. Place the cookie tray in the coolest part of your refrigerator for about 15 minutes before baking.

9. Pre-heat  the  oven at 375F / 190C
10. Remove cookies from refrigerator and Bake for 15-18 minutes. Check cookies at 13 minutes and rotate the pan, so they brown evenly, give them another 2-5 minutes to finishing cooking. At this point, Keep an eye on them, to pull them right when they look golden brown, check the bottom of one cookie it should be deep golden brown, and the seeds look toasty. By now, your house smells fragrant, buttery and citric. Smell is always a good indicator when food is done : )
11.Remove the tray from the oven and allow the cookies to rest for another 2-3 more minutes until they firm up and are ready to handle. With a cookie spatula, gently transfer them to a cooling rack.Please eat a cookie NOW! Once they are completely cool, keep them on an airtight container. These Amaranth Skull Cookies last for 4-5 days, (if you are lucky) They are great for breakfast with a cup of tea or coffee, or ideal for an afternoon pick me up snack.


Day-of-the-Death_Dia-de-los-Muertos_Amaranth Skull Cookies_Calaveras_y diablitos Yes,-more-Please!


The Day of the Dead is coming soon, starting October 31st with All Saints Eve, November 1st All Saints Day and ending November 2nd with All Soul’s Day. I have written a previous post with the origins and history about Day of the Dead, and this beautiful Mexican tradition. Dia de los Muertos, It is not only about the cool and colorful looking skulls, It has a deeper meaning with strong roots and traditions since pre columbian times. If you want to know more about it, please check this previous post that also includes a great recipe for Pan de Muerto and the easiest recipe for Sugar Skulls!

 If you want to learn more about it click here.

Feliz Dia de los Muertos, Let’s celebrate life after dead!

Music Pairing: La Llorona- Eugenia Leon

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