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Butterscotch Mousse Pie


I have to admit that I was never much of a pie person until very recently. 

“I mean, really,” I would ask pie-lovers, “What is it if not just an oddly-shaped fruit (or veggie) sandwich? Apples and cinnamon between two layers of crust. Blueberries between two layers of crust. Pumpkin between two layers of crust.”  Bah.

Oh, but that was just my cynical self, the one with pie envy, talking.  Once I learned to produce a truly great crust, all my counter-crust sentiments dissolved, like butter under your fingers. 

Traditional pastry, it seems, relies on the unique chemistry between cold fat and dry flour, cut into little bullets of butter or lard that subsequently melt and expand while baking, thereby creating pockets of air space.  If you’re not using solid fat in the mix, the crust simply doesn’t work out the same way, even if you DO refrigerate it; it just never achieves the same degree of tender flakiness.  As a result, I never had much success with pie crust. And because I don’t use margarines, the option of Earth Balance isn’t a possibility for me, either.

Every time I used to attempt a pie, I’d end up feeling a little like Jan, the “less-than” sister of the Brady Bunch: all I could do was clench my fists and wail, “Crust, Crust, Crust!!” 

Well, once I discovered vegan baking and nut-based crusts, those floury flakes lost their ability to bully this baker! Even though I don’t make them very often, I now truly enjoy a good vegan pie, and the crust is just as appealing to me as the filling (though I still favor non-fruit fillings). 

After experimenting with various combinations of ingredients, I was completely euphoric to discover that a mixture of ground nuts and oats, with a healthy sprinkling of flour added in, served as an ideal base for vegan pie crust.  With that discovery in hand, there was no stopping me!  First, I made variations on traditional fruit-filled versions; then I moved on to explore pumpkin or sweet potato fillings; finally, I graduated to the much-loved vegan chocolate mousse and other “cheesecake” fillings.  But what next? (“How about a dog-friendly pie, Mum?  You know we love your crust!”)

Well, as I mentioned in an earlier post, I am either blessed or cursed with the strange ability to remember numbers of all types–phone numbers or addresses that I’ve encountered once, weird statistics (like, did you know that 1 in 3 Americans can’t properly decode a bus schedule?), or single numerals from something I learned long ago (for instance, all I now recall from high school chemistry, a course in which I excelled at the time, is Avogadro’s Number: 6.02 x 1023 ). Similarly, I do remember that Pi is 3.14 (more or less)–though of course, I’ve never had a single occasion to make use of that fact. 

Except for now!  As it turns out, Kitchen Parade is hosting a Pie/Pi event this month: “Pi Day: Recipes for Homemade Pie.” Well, that suited me just fine, as I’m now happy to participate with both types of “pie/pi.”  And I immediately thought of the perfect filling for my entry. (“Yay! A pie for us! What a great Mum!”)

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I was recently fortunate enough to spend a week testing out my new cookbook, Vegan Express by Nava Atlas, and  fixed my sights on the very last recipe in the book, Butterscotch Mousse Pie.  Butterscotch is one of my favorite flavors after chocolate–and guess what?  This pie has both!  Soft and airy, the filling is a cross between a mousse and a custard, with a butterscotch flavor well represented by brown rice syrup and butterscotch extract.  It was a big hit with my HH , who is normally a cow’s dairy kind of guy. (“But Mum. . . you know we can’t have chocolate. . . Aw, Mum, crust, crust, crust!”)

Nava has kindly allowed me to reprint the recipe here, so I’m going to copy it verbatim from the book (with any adjustments I made in square brackets beside the original instructions).  I gussied it up a bit with my own version of whipped cream (the recipe for which I’ll post anon), so hope you like it!

To make the entire pie gluten-free, just use a GF pie crust; the filling and topping are both already gluten free.

Butterscotch Mousse Pie


Nava notes: “As I mentioned in Butterscotch Apples, I adore this seductive extract.  If you do too, the scent of the pie as it bakes and cools will drive you mad. And I can almost guarantee that the rich flavor won’t disappoint. You can find good-quality graham-cracker crusts in natural foods stores or the natural foods section of supermarkets.” 

Makes one 9-inch pie.  Six to eight servings.

One 16-ounce tub silken tofu [I used an equivalent amount of firm-silken Mori-Nu]

1/3 cup cashew butter

1/3 cup brown rice syrup [I used a bit more, as we preferred it a bit sweeter–about 1/2 cup]

2 tsp. butterscotch extract

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

One 9-inch vegan chocolate graham cracker crust [I used my own crust–recipe below]

2 Tbsp. dairy-free chocolate chips

2 Tbsp. rice milk

1. Prepare pie crust if making from scratch.

2. Preheat the oven to 350F.

3. Combine the tofu, cashew butter, rice syrup, butterscotch extract and vanilla in a food processor and process until creamy and completely smooth. Pour the mixture into the crust.

4. Combine the chocolate chips and rice milk in a small saucepan and heat gently. Whisk together until smooth. Or, combine the chocolate chips and rice milk in a small bowl, heat in a microwavae for about 45 seconds or until melted, then whisk together.

5. Drizzle the melted chocolate over the top of the pie. Using a spoon [I used a knife], gently create swirl patterns.

6. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the pie feels set in the center. Cool competely, then serve. If time allows, chill before serving. [I chilled the pie about 2 hours before topping with “cream” and serving. ]

Buttery, Rich Oat-Nut Pie Crust



This version, while unlike a traditional pastry crust, is nevertheless rich-tasting, and crumbles delicately, melting beautifully on the tongue.  

(“We do love this crust, Mum!  Maybe just a taste of this part–??”)

1/2 cup (55 g.) whole barley flour

1/4 cup (60 ml.) ground flax seeds

1/2 cup (120 ml.) whole rolled oats (not quick-cooking)

1/2 cup (60 g.) walnut pieces

1/4 tsp. sea salt

2-3 Tbsp. pure maple syrup

1/4 cup (60 ml.) sunflower or other light-tasting oil

In a food processor, combine the flour, flax, oats, nuts and salt until you have a uniform, fine meal (there shouldn’t be any detectable bits of nut in it, though you may see bits of oats). 

Drizzle the maple syrup and oil evenly over the top, then pulse a few times just until well-blended and the mixture comes together.  It will be a soft dough, a little sticky, but not so sticky that it adheres to your hand when you pat it into the pie plate (if it’s too soft or sticky, sprinkle with another tablespoon or two of flour and mix in by hand).

Press the dough into a lightly greased 9″ pie plate and flute sides if desired.  Dock the crust by poking holes with a fork evenly over the surface.

For pre-baked crusts: Bake for 15-25 minutes at 375F (190 C), until golden brown throughout.

For crusts that will be baked with the pie:  prebake for 10 minutes at 350F (180C), until the crust begins to puff a bit and appears dry on the top.


34 comments to Butterscotch Mousse Pie

  • Oh my, I have a sudden hankerin’ for pie. Vegan pie, no less. And not just any one, but YOURS. “Sold!” to the Pi Lady from Missouri.

    (Many many thanks for the spirit of your entry. PS I’m a Nava fan, too. My first cookbook of hers is the only holdover from my vegetarian days, the only one that still appeals. She’s brilliant, yes?)


  • Oh my gosh, this pie sounds and looks AMAZING! I’m going to HAVE TO make this!

    I have had my sights set on this cookbook for a while, because I like making quick meals (as a pressed-for-time college student).


  • Butterscotch, chocolate, nuts! This sounds excellent! I love the look of your nut crust – I love a textured crust.

    I also have a problem with crusts but mine is not the butter issue, it is that I always have disasters with rolling it out!


  • That is really a pretty pie and it sounds tasty too! I do like Nava Atlas. I have several of her cookbooks. Thanks for sharing a great recipe!


  • I’m not vegetarian and certainly not vegan but I think I will have to try this pie.


  • Alanna,
    Thanks so much for your comment, and for visiting the blog!

    Yes, the pie was a wonderful treat for a few days, till we had gobbled it all up. It’s been great to hear from all these Nava fans, too! Brilliant, yes!


    Definitely worth a try! I had been thinking only of time-strapped moms, but OF COURSE this is perfect for students with so little time on their hands! What a great way to save time and still eat healthfully.

    I didn’t mention the rolling, but basically, I had trouble with every aspect of making traditional pastry!! Nut crusts are so much more forgiving. And they taste fabulous.

    Thanks so much for your comment, and for visiting the blog!

    And I think we are in good company as Nava fans–she has many out there!!


    Thanks for your comment, and for visiting my blog!

    I think this is a great choice for people who may not have tried vegan foods before–my honey loved it, even though he’s neither vegetarian nor vegan. Would love to hear your feedback if you do give it a go!


    Kate Reply:

    Maybe it exists, but I’ve never found vegan butterscotch extract. If someone’s found one, appreciate the manufacturer’s name.


  • That pie looks amazing. I have had trouble making flaky crusts, and like you I’ve come to find that I enjoy crumb-type crusts much better anyways. I am so bookmarking your crust recipe, it sounds delicious!


  • Vegan Noodle,
    I guess I’ve always been more crumby than flaky. . .glad to see I’m not alone in that! 😉


  • …ring ring….”Hello, every dessert in the universe? This is Cakespy. You’ve officially been outdone by Ricki!”. OH MAN does that look good. That crust looks right up my alley!


  • I really wish I were your next door neighbor! Except I’d be poking you all the time to use carob for the chocolate. ;D Beautiful pie, Ricki. Brava!


  • Cakespy,
    Thanks, har har! Though I wish I could take credit, I really cannot, as it’s Nava’s recipe! (Well, the crust was mine, so okay, I’ll take one third credit!) 😉

    I wish you were, too! I’d love to have someone to share extras with (and with only two of us here who eat chocolate, there are lots of extras). Though if I took your advice and used carob, I suppose The Girls could help out more with leftovers. . . !!


  • Wow that looks amazing!


  • This looks so good – and chocolate and butterscotch together would be enough to make me break any diet!


  • Jessica,
    Thanks for your comment, and for visiting my blog! We thought it tasted pretty great, too.

    Welcome to the blog! Thanks for your comment. I think this actually wouldn’t be too bad for a diet–it’s sweetened with brown rice syrup, and of course tofu is good for ya!


  • That crust sounds like a real winner – delicious and nutritious!


  • Argus,
    Thanks so much for your comment, and welcome to my blog!
    And even though the crust is rich tasting (nuts have quite a bit of fat, after all), it’s “good fat,” so yes, nutritious!


  • Oh how I love butterscotch! This pie looks amazing. Really beautiful. I’m a huge fan myself of using nut-based meals in crust. Hazelnuts are my absolute favorite. Hmmm, hazelnuts, butterscotch, chocolate… 😉


  • Tempered Woman,
    Welcome to the blog–and thanks for leaving a comment! Glad to find another nut-crust enthusiast. I like the hazelnut combo! 🙂


  • In a word: YUM.

    I’m so impressed that you fluted the crust edges. It’s a crumb crust, which for me is a lovely excuse to forget aesthetics and just pat it into a pan, but you fluted the edges! I’m just in awe!


  • […] of my favorite posts, visually, is the one of Butterscotch Mousse Pie on Diet, Dessert, and Dogs. Ricki Heller is still perfecting her recipe for the coconut cream with which she’s garnished […]

  • Laci

    This pie was absolutely AWESOME!! The only thing I changed; I used raw cocao instead of chocolate chips. I can’t wait to make it again. I have to wait though b/c my husband and I ate it WAY too fast!! Thank you! Your crust was a wonderful addition!


  • Oh goodness, this looks good. I’m particularly grateful for the pastry recipe, since I’ve been looking for a low-fat, relatively low-G.I. version and haven’t really managed to create anything useful by myself.


  • Oops, meant to say that I hope you’re fully recovered from your back injury now 🙂


  • I don’t know how I missed this post of yours (somehow I don’t think I did, but I just didn’t comment) but this looks absolutely divine… I may test this out on the family the next time we have a get together – maybe almond butter instead of the cashew since I can find it at Bulk Barn lol.


  • Hi Ricki, I just knew your blog would be the place where I’d find an awesome nut crust recipe! As I don’t have any barley flour, do you think I could sub whole meal spelt flour in it’s place?


  • I do believe I’m drooling.. YUM! ♥


  • Ally

    Wow this looks soo good! I have a very tricky diet to stick to!! No wheat no dairy and I have candida so no sugar or yeast either! I can’t have brown rice syrup, could you use something else instead? I mostly use stevia and xylitol as sweeteners but might be able to be s bit naughty and u some agave if it would work?
    Cheers ally


    Ricki Reply:

    I’m not sure agave would work as it’s so much thinner than brown rice syrup (and the flavor of the syrup is more like butterscotch). But it’s worth a try–it might not be the same, but would still be good. 🙂 Let me know what you think if you try it!


  • Kate

    Just a heads up that barley flour is not gluten-free 🙂 Maybe brown or white rice flour would substitute for a GF option. Looks amazing and can’t wait to try it! Thanks


    Ricki Reply:

    Hi Kate,

    Yes, I know that barley flour isn’t gluten free. This recipe was posted long before I started the ACD! Before March, 2009, you’ll find lots of non-gluten free recipes (and a few that were GF by chance). 🙂


  • Beverly

    I love butterscotch, too, and when I saw Nava’s praise for ‘Butterscotch Extract” I was ready to run out to buy it.
    PLEASE tell us what brand because so many are artificial with an off-taste. Many thanks.


    Ricki Reply:

    Hi Beverly,
    Thanks for the comment! I’m afraid I can’t answer that question, as I didn’t use the extract (I couldn’t find it here in Toronto). As I recall, I used maple extract instead and it worked beautifully. But I will pass along your question to Nava and let her tell you her own favorite brand! 🙂


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