(As published in EcoParent Magazine)
Dates are the caramel-like, naturally sweet base to this decadent pie made with no added sugars or sweeteners. I used to make a version of this recipe in the 90s when I had a backpacking company guiding ten day long trips in the Rocky Mountains. We would bring it out at the trip’s halfway point when eating dehydrated meals had started to take its toll on the taste buds. Serving this rich dessert after a day on the trail is sure to delight kids and adults alike no matter how many kilometers you’ve travelled. This version is a tad more nutritious as I substituted a nutrient dense raw food nut/seed crust for the graham cracker crumb crust I used to make. You can always purchase the latter (crumbs) if you are tight on time or missing a food processor or blender.
The good news is that this dense, dark dessert also has a great nutrition profile as far as pies go. The pecans provide a “good fat” and add protein to balance out the sweetness of the dates. While they are high in sugar, dates contain every essential mineral, and like the flax seeds provide some fiber to slow the entry of sugar into the bloodstream and aid with good digestion, which is sometimes compromised when we travel. The cocoa is high in antioxidants and makes everyone a little happier no matter the weather, thickness of the thermarest or heaviness of the pack!
- 1 cup dates, pitted (about 20 medjool)
- 1/2 cup pecans plus 6 whole pecans
- 2 Tbsp cocoa powder
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp cardamom or nutmeg
- Pinch of sea salt
Crumb Crust Mix:
- 3/4 cup pecans
- 4 Tbsp coconut, unsweetened shredded
- 4 Tbsp flax seeds, ground
- 1/8 tsp sea salt
- 4 Tbsp butter or oil kept separately
*Feeling lazy? Sub above dry mix (not butter/oil) with 1 cup graham cracker crumb.
To Bring Along:
- 8 inch/20 cm aluminum pie plate or other lightweight pie plate
- 2 bags of herbal tea (rooibos, chai spice, apple cinnamon, or ginger all work well)
Assemble at Home: Prepare the filling ahead of time while making dinner.
- In a food processor, grind pecans, coconut, flax seeds and salt into a powder.
- Put this into a bag and label it CRUMB MIX
- Chop dates into small pieces with a knife and set aside in a reusable sandwich bag
- Set aside whole pecans in another bag
- Grind pecans in a blender or food processor and place in a bowl
- Add all the remaining dry ingredients into the bowl and mix well
- Transfer the nut/spice mix to a bag
- Place the whole pecans, dates and nut/spice mix in a larger bag and label it PIE FILLING
Assemble At Camp:
- 3/4 cup herbal tea or boiled water
- Bag of dates
- Bag of Pie Filling
- Bag of Crumb Mix or Graham Cracker Crumbs
- 2-4 tablespoons of oil or melted butter
- Reserved whole pecans
- In a small pot, make some strong herbal tea by adding 2 teabags to 3/4 cup boiled water. Let steep for 5 minutes and take out tea bags. Add the dates and simmer for a few minutes, stirring until dates start to get melted/smooth and creamy. Let sit a few more minutes while you work on the crust.
- Assemble the crust be blending in 2 Tbsp of oil or butter to the crumb mix or 4 Tbsp into the cookie crumbs and pressing the mix evenly into the pie plate.
- Stir the dates well in the pot, add the bag of pie filling, and combine well.
- Pour the date filling into the prepared crust.
- Press on the reserved whole pecans for decoration.
- Let set for 15 or more minutes.
- Scoop into bowls and serve.