I went to a little dinner gathering with some of my favorite friends/colleagues last weekend, and it was another opportunity to test some twists on classic comfort foods for fall. Our host is a new momma that has gone dairy-free because the little one was having bad reactions to that component of her diet, so this is challenging for desserts. That being said, I just decided to go all out and combine a few clever vegan and gluten free pie components. I would happily substitute a standard pie crust for this nut crust any day.
There were some logistical challenges to removing both gluten from the crust and dairy/eggs from the custard filling of a sweet potato pie. While neither challenge compromised flavor at all, it does require some patience to remove the pies from the baking pan (the crust really needs to cool and set to be durable, and the filling will remain soft after baking). Those challenges could certainly be eliminated by making one whole pie in a standard pie dish, but the individual portions made in a cupcake pan were pretty adorable.
If you are not bound to keeping the pies vegan, they were also very tasty with a homemade marshmallow topping browned under the broiler (great recipe that I halved found here; and by the way, baking soda will work to substitute for cream of tartar).
I very rarely make a recipe twice, just because I'm always more excited to try something new, but in this case my family will definitely be getting some sweet potato pies for Thanksgivvukah. They were that good.
- 10 oz. whole pecans
- 3 oz. sliced almonds
- 3 oz. chopped walnuts
- 10-12 pitted dates
- 1/8 cup real maple syrup
- 2 tbsp. coconut oil, melted
- 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 2 large sweet potatoes
- 3/4 cup light coconut milk
- 2 tbsp. corn starch
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
- pinch of ground cloves
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Skin and cut the sweet potatoes into large pieces for cooking. Add them to a large pot of water and bring to a boil to cook for about 15 minutes, or until very soft.
As the potatoes cook, make the nut crust for the pies. Pulse all the nuts in a food processor until they are finely chopped. Add the dates and pulse until the nuts just begin to hold together. By hand, stir in the maple syrup, coconut oil, 1/4 tsp. of cinnamon and 1/4 tsp. of salt.
Press about 2 heaping tbsp. of the crust mixture into each place in the cupcake pan, pressing it up along the sides until and even crust of about 1/8 in formed (but err on the side of thicker). Of course, you can use one large pie dish.
Bake the crusts for 10 minutes in the oven, and then allow to cool a little, while you prepare the filling.
For the filling, drain and mash the sweet potatoes, mixing them with the coconut milk and remaining spices. Save some of the boiling water to mix with the corn starch until it dissolves. Over medium heat, add the potato mixture back into the emptied pot along with the dissolved corn starch and brown sugar. Cook until the sugar is melted everything is combined. To get the filling as smooth as possible, transfer to a food processor, blender, or use an emersion blender, to finish.
Fill each cup of nut crust with sweet potato, and return to the oven to bake for another 15 minutes. The filling will remain soft.
Let the pies cool completely in the pan before attempting to remove them. I also chilled the pies in the freezer a bit (but don't let them get too cold, or the crust just cracks).