When I lived on Maui for 6 months, I frequented a place called Maui Kombucha in Haiku. They served fresh kombucha on tap, raw salads, and RAW PIE. My first bite of raw pie was a slice of semi-frozen key-lime coconut, as thick as possible with a dense nutty crust. It was a hot humid day, and the pie was like pie and a lemon bar and ice cream and limeaid all at once: perfection. This divine, life changing pie was $7.50 a slice. And so worth it. At first it was a weekly indulgence – I would ceremonially select a day of the week to have this pie, sometimes with my dutiful roommate Amber, who helped support my growing obsession and loved it (nearly) as much as me. Sometimes we couldn’t get pie together and she would come home with a slice, I would see it, and then need my own. And drive down the hill to get my own, that second.
Did I mention that Maui Kombucha was less than a 5 minute drive away? And that they had 3-4 different flavors a day? And that there were always new flavors that I needed to try? Sometimes it was chocolate coconut, sometimes lilikoi (passionfruit), sometimes carrot cake. But always, always, the lime was the best. And always the base of every pie was coconut. Early into my growing pie obsession, someone broke my heart. I decided raw pie was the only thing that would mend it back together, for $7.50 a slice. My heart was so broken and my sweet tooth and sadness were so strong, I quickly developed a daily pie habit. The kombucha baristas soon knew me as the one who came for pie to heal my broken heart, partially because I told each of them, one by one. I would come for pie during the strongest of thunderstorms and the brightest of sunny days. I would come for pie on the way out to the beach, or on the way home from the beach. I would go the moment they opened, or moments before they closed, always in a panic, hoping that they would have the coconut lime flavor.
I started to hide my pie obsession from Amber, because she knew it was getting bad. Sometimes I would go eat pie by myself and then announce my craving to her later and suggest we go together later that day, so I WOULD SECRETLY GET PIE TWICE IN ONE DAY. There was one week where I actually spent nearly $100 on pie at Maui Kombucha. My poor roommate Amber feebly suggested, at the end of this week, that I learn how to make this raw pie myself, to save money. What? Me? Make a raw pie? The dessert that solves all my sorrows and must be made by magical kombucha-chugging fairies is something I could do myself? And then I actually thought about it – how hard could it be?
This is how the recipe was born. I made a passionfruit version in Maui because they grew in the yard, but lemon here in California (because I have meyer lemons at my disposal). Thank you broken heart, for you helped me find my new favorite dessert. And thank you Amber, for calling out my pie insanity.
This is raw, vegan (totally 100% vegan if you sub agave for the honey), and paleo friendly. It is “sweet and sour like a lilikoi” as Hawaiian native Paula Fuga likes to say in her song “Lilikoi” which I played on repeat while writing this. Just so you know.
Raw Lemon Coconut Pie
1 C. Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice (about 6-7 lemons)
Zest of 1 Lemon
1/2 C. Coconut Butter
1/4 C. Raw Honey for a super tart pie or 1/3 Cup for a sweeter pie
2 tsp. Pure Vanilla Extract
1 big pinch Coarse Sea Salt
1 Heaping Cup Raw Almonds, soaked 6-8hrs (you can also use leftover ground almonds from making almond milk (it will measure out to about 1 1/2 Cups after soaking, but do not use almond flour because the texture will be different)
1/2 C. Shredded Unsweetened Coconut
6-8 Medjool Dates
Zest of 1 Lemon
1/2 tsp. Course Sea Salt
1 tsp. Pure Vanilla Extract
Pour boiling water over the 6-8 dates (use 6 if they are huge, 8 if they are smaller) in a small bowl and set aside. This will help soften them so they blend easier.
Zest 2 lemons using the small-holed side of a cheese grater. Set aside half for the crust. Place the other half in a food processor or blender, along with lemon juice, honey, salt, vanilla and coconut butter. I recommend microwaving the coconut butter for 30 seconds so it is easier to work with. Since we don’t all live in Maui forever, (sigh) coconut butter can get pretty hard with a normal indoor temperature, and the microwave helps. Process until the mixture is well combined and turns a light lemon yellow in color. Scrape down the sides once, making sure to get all the honey blended in, and combine for a few more seconds.
Remove the lemon mixture, set aside in a bowl, and quickly rinse out the blender or food processor of excess lemon filling. It’s ok if there is a bit left over – it will help combine the crust next! Don’t make the crust before the filling! If you do, it is really sticky and hard to clean off before you make the filling. It’s better to have a little lemon in the crust instead of chunks of almond in the filling – right? Right.
Take the soaked dates out of the hot water, discard water. Remove the pits if they have pits. If you are working with soaked almonds, process them alone for about 30 seconds until they are coarsely ground, then add the other crust ingredients. If you have ground almonds leftover from making almond milk (about 1 1/2 cups measured out), throw all the crust ingredients in together: almonds, dates, lemon zest, vanilla, shredded coconut, salt. Process until the mixture starts to stick to the sides and ball up, looking a bit sticky. Grab a piece of crust and pinch it together with your fingers. If it crumbles apart immediately, add a spoon full of honey. If it is really gummy and super sticky (unlikely) you can always add a spoon full of shredded coconut. Adapt to the crust!
In a 10 inch glass pie pan, press the crust dough into the bottom and sides until it is about 1/2 inch thick, so it looks like a traditional pie crust. You do not have to press the sides very high up. Pour in the lemon filling. If the filling doesn’t reach the height of the crust, you can always press the crust down lower to meet it. You can also divide the dough up for multiple small tarts of different sizes. Sprinkle the top with a little leftover lemon zest and shredded coconut for extra ZEST and cuteness.
Freeze for at least an hour. Cut with a sharp knife and serve with a pie server.
Enjoy your lemon pie, lovelies!