The best of raw mini pies
The last of the Raw Mini Pie Challenge entries rolled in on September 1 while Lisa and I were away enjoying the vegan food scene in San Francisco, and so we were eager to spend our first weekend back home studying all the delicious-looking entries and gearing up for recipe-testing and judging.
If you’ve already seen our challenge roundup, you’ll understand why we were both beyond impressed by the adorable mini pies you churned out. We loved that most of them highlighted traditional flavour combinations using fresh-picked, seasonal fruit and other local ingredients. After scoring the entries based on the judging criteria, three finalists emerged. These three finalists moved on to the recipe-testing round and became the guests of honour at Saturday’s mini pie tasting party—and what better way to gather volunteer taste testers than at Toronto’s Vegetarian Food Festival?
After a morning of pie-making in Lisa’s condo kitchen, a lovely tasting party in the middle of a vivacious crowd of animal-friendly folks at the food festival, and much discussion among our volunteer taste testers (there were so many, we had to keep a scorecard), we ranked the finalists. Do you want to know who came out on top?
First Place: Natasha’s Key Lime Mini Pie
Natasha’s pie began with a soft, buttery crust using local macadamia nuts and pine nuts. This lucky Florida-based foodie also has tropical fruit growing in her area, so she made use of key limes in a cashew-based filling and topped it off with a lovely vanilla creme. Inspired by her state’s pie flavour, Natasha’s tropical pie was a perfect treat for a hot summer’s day. All of our testers raved about the refreshing lime flavour that balanced nicely with the buttery crust. We were also impressed by how the use of such simple ingredients could be transformed into an elegant dessert.
Second Place: Rachel’s Blackberry Almond Petite Pie
Rachel’s petite pie was a very close runner-up. Prior to her creation, Rachel took a trip down memory lane and went berry-picking in the neighbourhood she grew up in, and she thought a raw pie was the perfect place for her berry haul. Our own version was made up of huge, fresh berries that were bursting with flavour. Paired with an almond creme filling and a simple nut crust, each bite reminded us of summer’s best.
Third Place: Jackie’s Neopolitan Pie
As soon as we read this post, we knew it was something we had to try. The classic neopolitan reinvented as a raw pie was quite impressive, and although Jackie’s lack of mini pie pans meant her mini pie was giant-sized, we still thought the recipe sounded like a winning combination. All three layers of her pie came together nicely, but we agreed the chocolate avocado layer was quite distinct. Some of our taste testers absolutely swooned over this triple-layered treat. If you adore avocado and dark chocolate, then you probably would have voted for Jackie’s pie. The bright pink hue of the strawberry layer was another draw. We easily attracted eager eaters with this lovely little pie.
Congratulations to all the winners and to pie eaters everywhere! We had such a wonderful response to this challenge that now we each have a long list of pies to try before we run out of the season’s best bounty. Thank you again to everyone who participated and to our generous prize sponsors: VegNews, Vegan Essentials and Rawmazing.
We hope this challenge has inspired you to press a little crust into a tiny tart pan, layer on something luscious, and finish with a topping that’s fresh and fruity.