It’s a beautiful fall day in Minnesota today. It’s been freakishly warm this month. Not that I’m complaining. I love hot weather. People often ask why I still live in Minnesota since most of the year I’m wearing 3 layers – and I’m still chilly if there is a breeze. I tell them it’s because the spiders don’t get as big up here.

But as much as I really don’t like sub-zero temps and bundling up to the point that only my eyeballs are showing, I love the change of seasons. The leaves have been amazing this year. The tree in our front yard right now is a palette of green, yellow, orange and red.

I love how warm breezes blow the leaves through the street like an applause for the coming of the new season. And who doesn’t love the sound of crunching leaves under their feet? I purposely walk in the gutter where most of the leaves gather, for maximum crunch and that feeling of being carefree and childlike.

So, in going with the childlike fall theme, I decided to make some mini pumpkin pies. Bite size goodies that I wanted to make with a gluten free gingerbread crust. I had to make a trip to the store to get a few things before I started. Once back I was ready to go. Although I knew what I was going to do, I couldn’t resist looking at some cookbooks and came across a recipe for a Pecan Butter Crust.

Now I had a dilemma. Which crust do I make? I used the pumpkin pie filling recipe from the Libby’s canned pumpkin (the kind my mom always uses). It was more than enough filling for both recipes so I decided to make both. Which meant another trip to the store for the one ingredient I was short.

I made 48 mini-pumpkin pies and thinking I had more than enough bite size pies, I decided to just make a small tart with what was left. I was a little disappointed in that decision after I flipped one pan of mini-pies onto the oven door as I was taking it out. My tart was still baking so I didn’t want to keep the oven door open too long. Murmuring curse words to myself for making the mess and destroying my cute little pies I quickly scraped the pile of goo into a bowl and shut the oven door. That will be fun to clean later.

I looked at the mess piled into the bowl. It wasn’t pretty but it was pumpkin pie- even if it didn’t look like pie. I decided to have a taste. The goo tasted delicious! I couldn’t just throw it away! There must be something I can do with pumpkin pie mush…

It didn’t take long before I decided to do what I do with a lot of my gluten-free flops. It would make a great topping for ice cream. Another trip to the store.

Pecan Butter Crust
from Gluten-Free Baking by Rebecca Reilly

1/4 cup pecans, toasted (place raw pecans in 350° oven for 10 min.)
1/4 cup plus 1 Tablespoon granulated sugar (separated)
1 cup Basic Gluten-Free Mix*
1 Tablespoon sweet rice flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
6 Tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes

Preheat oven to 375°.

Finely grind the toasted pecans and the 1 Tablespoon sugar in a food processor.
Mix together the ground nuts, gluten-free mix, 1/4 cup sugar, sweet rice flour and salt. Blend well. Using a pastry blender or fork work the butter into the dry ingredients until you have coarse crumbs.

Place 1 Tablespoon of the crumbs into each cup of a mini-muffin pan. Place a small amount of sugar in a dish. Dip mini-tart press in sugar then press down crust in each cup. (A small shot glass may work as well). Bake for 6 minutes. Remove from oven. Increase heat to 425°. Fill each cup with pumpkin pie filling. A liquid measuring cup works great for this. Once the oven is at 425°, bake another 12 – 13 minutes. It is done when a small knife poked in one comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool in pan 5 minutes before carefully removing each pie to fully cool on rack. Top with fresh whipped cream. I like mine lightly sweetened with sugar and a little vanilla.

*Gluten-free mix– 2 cups brown rice flour, 2/3 cup potato starch, 1/3 cup tapioca flour

The directions are basically the same for the Ginger Snap Crust with only a few minor changes.

Ginger Snap Crust

1 bag MI-DEL Gluten-Free Ginger Snaps (8 oz bag)
6 Tablespoons melted butter

Preheat oven to 350°.

Place ginger snaps into food processor and process until fine crumbs. Place in bowl and add melted butter. Stir until well combined.

Place 1 Tablespoon of the crumbs into each cup of a mini-muffin pan.  Using mini-tart press, press down crust in each cup. Bake for 6 minutes. Remove from oven. Increase heat to 425°. Fill each cup with pumpkin pie filling. Once the oven is at 425°, bake another 12 – 13 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool in pan 5 minutes before carefully removing each pie to fully cool on rack. Top with fresh whipped cream.

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