Nut Crusts, a Low-Carb, High-Protein, Gluten-Free Replacement for Piecrusts and Cheesecake Crusts
What to Make for Dessert when you Can't Have Wheat
A friend of mine has celiac disease, and cannot eat wheat, and because so many desserts are made with wheat as a major ingredient, she almost never gets to enjoy dessert. I thought that someone being deprived of dessert was just too sad! So in the quest to make delicious desserts for her, I looked around for a substitute that would allow her to enjoy desserts, particularly cheesecake (which she loves) and pies. And then I discovered that for years I had been throwing away the solution to her problems -- the little bits of nuts left over at the bottom of the package when I had finished eating the nuts! You can make those bits of nuts into delicious crusts for pies and cheesecakes. In fact, using nut crusts instead of wheat for pies and cheesecakes is healthier, lower in carbohydrates, and provides a lot of nutrition, too! Nut crusts are an ideal solution for people on low-carb diets, or those who want to avoid white flour or have wheat allergies. The lower carbohydrate content may be good for diabetics, as nuts contain fewer blood-sugar altering nutrients than flours. Nut crusts are high in protein compared with regular crusts, and has all the nutrition that is packed into various kinds of nuts, as well. In addition, a nut crust makes a delicious addition to any kind of dessert because of the added flavour.
However, be warned: you cannot eat nut crusts if you are allergic to nuts, so make sure that before serving a nut crusts to someone, you warn people, or find out their allergy status.
This substitute for piecrust is one of the easiest things in the world to make: simply take the tiny bits of nuts you find at the bottom of a package of nuts, and collect them by type of nut until you have a cup or so. If you are harvesting your own nuts, you can dry them thoroughly, and then run over them with a rolling pin. (Do not use a blender or food processor, or you will end up with nut butter! You can, however, use a coffee mill for a very short time to chop nuts. A hachoir also works well.) The finer the pieces of nuts, the smoother the final result will be.
Depending on the type of dessert you are making, you will want to select a nut taste that will go with it. You have the choice of many kinds of nuts: peanuts, pecans, almonds, walnuts, pistachios, cashews, macadamia nuts, pine nuts, Brazil nuts, and hazelnuts. So first, choose a nut whose flavour will blend nicely with your intended dessert.
Once you have selected your nut, you will want to dampen the flour with either a small amount of water, or a very small amount of butter. Press into the pan as you would with crushed graham crackers. The more liquid your dessert is at the start, the finer you will want the nut crumbs, so make sure that the dish won't leak.
Once you have the bottom pressed in, simply continue as normal. Nut crusts will not burn as easily as wheat crusts, or crusts with sugar, so you do not have to worry about baking times or temperatures; simply bake according to your recipe directions.
To make a topping for a pie, you can dampen nut flour, roll, and press on to the top when your dessert is nearly done. You won't be able to make the fancy slits, or leaves, but you will have a far more nutritious dessert! A second option is to top your pie with marzipan--a paste made from almonds--a great way to decorate your pie creatively! And of course, you can always drizzle a sauce made from chocolate, caramel, or fruits over the top of your pie, or top your pie off with meringue or whipped cream.
Don't want to go to the work of crushing nuts yourself?
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