Imagine a decadent, mouth-wateringly creamy pie complete with a light, crumbly crust. Now picture that same pie made entirely from raw ingredients. That’s right. No baking. If you can’t envision it, you’ll just have to try a piece for yourself.
Alissa Martucci, owner of Divine Pie in Portland, Oregon, serves up handcrafted pies made entirely in the raw at the Portland Farmers Market every weekend. From traditional favorites like apple pie, pumpkin pie and pecan pie to her more intricate key lime pie, chocolate hazelnut cream pie and coconut mango ginger cream pie, she makes all of her pies using fresh, local, organic and entirely raw ingredients.
Made completely dairy- and gluten-free, her decadent pies (and cheesecakes!) are perfect for vegan pie lovers and those with food allergies and sensitivities who crave a delicious dessert that they can actually eat. And you can forget the bland and dried out stereotypes typically associated with gluten- and dairy-free desserts. The pies from Divine Pie taste, well, entirely divine.
Discover how Alissa Martucci got her start making raw pies, where to snag yourself a piece, and how pie can be (gasp!) healthy in our Q&A session.
OrganicAuthority: Tell us a bit about yourself and how you came to make raw pies. Did you go to culinary school?
Alissa Martucci: I grew up in a family of amazing cooks eating healthy food (and growing quite a bit of it ourselves!). So, I’d been playing in the kitchen with cookbooks for years, without any formal “training.” Culinary school was really a self taught, experiential and experimental process for me. While I went through my phases of various dietary preferences (vegetarian, vegan, raw, gluten free and I-only-eat-what-fell-from-the-tree) I began to understand the ways in which our food choices connect us together, and how we are nourished on many levels when we share food with others. I really wanted to make something that could be enjoyed by everyone, regardless of their dietary preferences, and so I started making something delicious that would transcend the boundaries of the dietary choices that could otherwise disconnect us.
OA: Why the focus on raw desserts?
AM: I first started making raw pies during a raw food cleanse. I was craving dessert and needed to find a way to combine my limited ingredient options into something decadently sweet! I’d heard of nut crusts and cashew creams and using dates instead of sugar, and when I first tried it out, it was like a total dessert revelation—making all these treats that tasted amazing and satisfied my sweet tooth but still left me feeling nourished and energized. You’d be amazed what you can do with raw cacao, young coconut meat and a handful of dates!
OA: How long has Divine Pie been crafting together its delicious pies?
AM: Divine Pie officially started as its own business at the Portland Farmers Markets in March of 2011. Before that, I had started a food cart in northeast Portland where I made all kinds of raw food including fresh juices and smoothies. That’s where the pies got their debut. People loved them, and they sold better than anything else we had there, so I decided to move on from the food cart world and just focus on pie.
OA: How did you come up with the name?
AM: Funny you should ask. It was a real community effort. I had a list of about 50 different possible names and just couldn’t decide on one. So, I put up a little survey on Facebook asking all my friends what the name should be. Divine Pie took the cake! (Or the pie…)
OA: How do you make your piecrusts?
AM: The crusts are made with a blend of nuts, dates and coconut flakes that are processed in a food processor. The result is a light and crumbly crust that is totally gluten free. Simple!
OA: Where can pie lovers find a piece of Divine Pie?
AM: We sell them at the Portland Farmers Market on Saturdays. The farmers market has been an amazing place to get our start since we get to give out samples to thousands of people every weekend.
We are also now available in the frozen dessert section of a few co-ops and markets in Portland, including the Alberta Co-op Grocery, Food Front Cooperative Grocery and Proper Eats Market. Our pies are also sold by the slice at a few restaurants around town, including Back to Eden Bakery and the Cruz Room. Hopefully, we’ll be available soon in some of the larger natural foods stores, like New Season’s and Whole Foods Markets.
Those not in the Portland area can still snag a piece of pie by ordering online.
OA: Who makes your pies?
AM: I’ve got a small team of great employees who assist with pie production, packaging and market sales. We make all the pies in small batches and then package, freeze, and label everything for the stores and markets in town. There are also some busy times of the year where we have to bring on extra people since we’re vending at multiple locations at once such as festivals and farmers markets.
OA: Which pie is the most complicated to make? Why?
AM: The raw apple pie is the most complicated because I have to dehydrate the apples and then rehydrate them in fresh apple juice, so it’s a bit time consuming.
OA: Have you ever had any strange requests for pies?
AM: I get bizarre recommendations and requests for pie flavors all the time, and it’s the savory ideas that always seem the least appetizing. A savory miso broccoli pie? Or a raw onion mushroom pie? Not gonna happen as long as my mission statement is “dessert first.”
OA: Where do you get inspiration for new pie flavors?
AM: Being at the farmers market really inspires me to keep the flavors as local and seasonal as possible. We’ve got such a bounty of amazing fruits here in the Pacific Northwest that are easy to get creative with. Some of my favorite local flavors include Marionberry Cheesecake, Ginger Peach Pie, and, here in the City of Roses, a Rosewater Cardamom Cheesecake.
OA: Have you ever tried to make a new pie or flavor combination that just didn’t work out? Any “disasters?"
AM: I’ve had a few disasters that always recovered as soon as I added more chocolate. I tried making a cherry cheesecake last year that was a relatively unappetizing shade of brown, so I added a bunch of cacao, called it a Black Forest Cheesecake, and voila! Disaster averted!
OA: Do you have any projects in the works? A cookbook maybe? Any new ideas for Divine Pie?
AM: I’ve got a few ideas for a raw dessert making e-course, and some brilliant thematic cooking shows (I can’t give away my secrets though, sorry!). In the meantime, we’re just working on growing Divine Pie, becoming available in more stores on the West Coast, and really taking off as a new frozen dessert product.
OA: What’s your favorite part about pie-making?
AM: Garnishing the pies is really my favorite part. Adding a little bit of beautiful detail to each pie to make it look super decadent… squeezing a sweet spiral of cashew coconut whipped cream out of the pastry bag and then drizzling some raw cacao sauce across it… It’s like painting with food!
I also love making the chocolate-mint cheesecake… swirling the minty green half together with the dark chocolate half to give it a marbled effect. Yum! I think that’s really what makes these pies stand out from other raw pies out there on the market—they’re given that extra quality of attention to detail that makes them exquisite (and appetizing).
images: Divine Pie
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