Dairy-free Purple Sweet Potato Pie

 I used to think that I was a cake person, but after this pie, I think I’ve been converted.  Pie allows you to bring in so many different textures that I think that cake just doesn’t allow for (not saying that cake isn’t amazing, cuz TRUST ME, it soooooo is). BUT in one bite of pie, you get flaky, buttery crust, smooth creamy filling, and crunchy sweet topping – it really doesn’t get much better than that!  I guess I should also preface by admitting that a huge part of why I didn’t used to like pie is because I’m lactose intolerant and pie just doesn’t taste as good without butter.  I pretty much believed that butter-less pie was not worth eating until this past Thanksgiving rolled around.  With my grandpa working on controlling his blood sugar level, and pretty much my whole family is lactose intolerant, dessert options had to be 1) low in sugar and 2) dairy-free.  This pie delivers both.  Not only are sweet potatoes naturally sweet, they are also perfect because the sugars in sweet potatoes digest slowly and won’t spike up your blood sugar.  


Turns out, with the right substitutions, you can make just as delicious a pie crust and filling without dairy.  For my pie crust, I use coconut oil, the filtered kind, so you can barely taste/can’t taste the coconut flavor at all.  It’s honestly pretty amazing.  Just make sure to pay extra attention when you’re buying you’re coconut oil to pick up the filtered kind, otherwise your crust will definitely taste of coconut (unless of course, you like coconut, then have at it).  The key to making sure you get a flaky crust is to keep the coconut oil cold.  Since it’s hard to scoop when its cold, I will usually pre-measure it out and then stick the amount into the fridge for maybe 10 minutes.  You can assemble the rest of the ingredients while you wait.  The same goes with the pie filling, I use coconut cream and it creates the most luscious and creamy filling – you won’t even remember that heavy cream wasn’t used.  The real secret though? Straining your pie filling ensures that all the lumps are broken up and your custard will end up smoother than silk. 


Now, I’m not a fan of walnuts, BUT, as it turns out, when they are candied, they become the perfect complement for a creamy filling.  Of course, you can choose to leave the nuts out, but they just provide the perfect crunch, so I would recommend simply substituting for a nut that you do like.  Seeds would probably work too! It’s just nice to have a trio of different textures 🙂
I’m getting hungry just thinking about this pie while I write!  Might have to do some night time baking….


I’m currently on winter break still, and I’m blissfully savoring the days I have left.  I’m still at work most days, but it’s just so nice to come home and not have a million pounds of homework to do.  Instead, I get a chance to cook, watch some netflix and catch up on my blogging.  The simple life pleasures are the best.  So here we go, pie recipe coming at you!

DAIRY-FREE PURPLE SWEET POTATO PIE | Makes one 4.5in x13.5in pie

INGREDIENTSfor the crust

  • 1/2 cup filtered coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp ice cold water

for the filling

  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 cup coconut cream
  • heaping 1/2 cup purple sweet potato mashed
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs

for the candied nut topping

  • 1/4 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1/3 cup walnut pieces

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 425 (F)
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine flours, baking powder and salt. Mix well.
  3. Add in coconut oil and use either a pastry cutter or a fork to break the oil into pea sized pieces.  DO NOT use your hands, this will melt the coconut oil!
  4. Once the oil pieces are thoroughly mixed into the flour, add in ice cold water, 1 tbsp at a time until a dough ball forms.  Try to add in as little water as possible, as adding too much water will encourage the formation of gluten which results in a tough pie crust.
  5. Form into a rectangle, wrap in saran wrap and chill in fridge for 30 minutes.
  6. While the crust is chilling, combine sweet potato, brown sugar, eggs, coconut cream, cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice in a bowl and whisk until blended.
  7. Using a fine mesh sieve, strain the filling mixture into a clean bowl to ensure a smooth filling.
  8. Once dough has chilled, roll out to 1/4 inch in thickness and press into tart pan.  Place parchment paper on top of pie crust and fill with baking beans (I just use rice).
  9. Blind bake the crust for 15 minutes at 425 (F).
  10. Take out crust, carefully remove baking beans and pour in filling (at this point, I usually place the pie pan on a baking sheet for easier maneuvering).
  11. Lower oven heat to 325 (F).
  12. Bake pie for 20-25 minutes until filling is just set. Let chill.
  13. While pie is chilling, melt 1/4 cup white sugar in a small sauce pan until it caramelizes (you are looking for a dark amber color).  When it reaches this color, throw in walnut pieces and mix thoroughly.  Pour out candied nuts onto waxed or parchment paper and let cool.
  14. When you are ready to serve the pie, break candied walnut pieces over pie.
  15. Pie keeps up to 3 days in the fridge (and tastes amazing straight from the fridge as well!).  Be sure to store candied walnuts separately, as the moisture from the pie will liquify the sugar.

Enjoy!

Flaky Apple Hand Pies

 Happy 2019! 2018 brought a whirlwind of changes – new moves, new jobs, new friends, in fact, it’s almost overwhelming to think of them all!  It’s simultaneously been the hardest year, but the happiest year.  Isn’t it funny that life can be like that sometimes (and it seems, almost all the time?). I hope that for you, 2019 brings all the happiness that was in 2018, and only keeps getting better 😊


On the topic of better, I’ve been aspiring to be better about staying home and cooking with what I have, instead of falling prey to the wonderful app that is Grubhub.  Don’t get me wrong, I love cooking and being in the kitchen, but after 8 hours of school and a seemingly endless pile of homework, the thought of even sautéing some veggies makes my head spin.  So, creating the simplest and fastest recipes are always at the forefront of my mind when I’m creating something new.


The recipe is actually from awhile back, but I’m finally getting to blogging about it now (talk about being behind! Haha, I’m just a year late).  Anyway, one of my bestest friends from my work came over to my itty bitty apartment this past Thanksgiving to make some apple hand pies.  We had originally set out to make cherry almond croissants, but upon realizing the both of us had no tools and barely any ingredients, we had to quickly change plans.  She brought some honeycrisp apples (shoutout to Minnesota for creating them!), and I supplied the puff pastry, voila! We had all the ingredients necessary for apple hand pies.  It’s that easy, I promise!  And it will bring smiles to anyone you serve them to, cause really, who can resist some pipping hot, cinnamony sugar and buttery pastries? 


So let’s ring in 2019 with some flaky apple hand pies, maybe a glass of champagne, and if you’re me, some R&R with my faithful buddy, netflix (lol).  Back to reality though, I’ve been thinking a lot about resolutions, and I really only have two this year, okay, maybe three, but the first is the most important.  I want to be kinder to others, because you can always be kinder and you never, ever know another stranger’s full story.  So often I find myself quickly jumping to conclusions and judging others harshly before I even take a moment to put myself in their shoes.  What are the other two? You’ll just have to stay tuned to find out.  In the mean time, grab some apples, some puff pastry and sit down with a hand pie (or two). 

FLAKY APPLE HAND PIES | Makes 8-10 hand pies 

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 honeycrisp apples (or any other baking apple) – cored and diced into small pieces 
  • 1/2 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1/2 tbsp butter – melted 
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 sheet puff pastry (I get mine from Trader Joes) 
  • 1 beaten egg (for egg wash) 
  • 1 tbsp milk*
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar*

DIRECTIONS 

  1. Preheat oven to 400 (F)
  2. In a medium size mixing bowl, mix together diced apples, white sugar, melted butter and cinnamon.  Combine together and set aside. 
  3. Take thawed puff pastry and cut sheet into 8-10 rectangles, depending on how big you want your hand pies to be (remember, your hand pies will be half the size you cut your rectangles into, because you’ll be folding them in half to seal in the apple). 
  4. Take each piece of puff pastry and spoon in about 1-2 tablespoons of apple into the middle of the puff pastry. Make sure to leave out the juices that have pooled to the bottom of the bowl with the apples, this will make your hand pie extremely soggy. 
  5. Brush edges of the puff pastry with the beaten egg and seal together.  
  6. Place onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (you’ll want the parchment paper since the apples tend to leak their juices a little bit, it makes clean up easier). 
  7. Bake for 10-15 minutes.  Remove once the top is golden brown and puff pastry has puffed!
  8. Once cooled, create an icing by combining milk and powdered sugar together.  Drizzle over hand pies for just the slightest hint of sweetness to complement the apples.  
  9. Hand pies will stay fresh for just a couple of days.  To extend their shelf life, simply freeze and reheat in the toaster! 

Enjoy! 

Cranberry White Chocolate Chip Cookies

 PSA: THESE COOKIES CAN BE MADE IN ONE BOWL/POT/CONTAINER!


I will confess, these cookies were made quite awhile ago, but I simply haven’t had the time or energy to write up a post.  Last time, after a week of exams, papers and group projects, I collapsed on to the bed in a tired heap and asked myself what I was even doing here in New York, what I was doing at Columbia and if I even knew who I was anymore.  Of course, it didn’t help that daylight savings time means that by the time I come home from school, it’s completely dark out and it truly feels like I’m living in a cave. Not to be creating a pity-party, but I guess my point was that, I needed a break.  I needed time to take care of myself, to exercise, to spend time with friends, to bake, to BLOG! And it’s so easy to forget that humans need self-care time too.  We’re so easily caught up in taking care of other people, making sure our lives are in order, that sometimes, we can’t even remember the last time we were hungry for a homemade meal. 


SO, thank goodness for Election Day, giving me the time to take a break from school and reflect on life and rebuild my confidence in the decisions that I’ve made in life. And I hope that wherever you are, whoever you are, you make sure to create some space and time in your life to take care of yourself too.  Whether it’s the early morning cup of coffee, or the late night t.v. show, make sure you’re taking care of your mental health.  Which by the way…you could start by…making these cookies!


Whenever October and November roll around, I’m always addicted to the idea of cranberries, I have no idea why, but it’s probably got to do with Turkey Day. Anyways, these are inspired by Thanksgiving and everything Thanksgiving represents (besides the fact that it eventually lead to the conflict between Native Americans and Immigrants), BUT other than that, warmth, sweetness, a deep gratitude for life. 


Also, they use brown butter, which in my opinion, makes for an amazing flavor combination with the white chocolate and cranberries.  The white chocolate is just sweet and creamy enough to offset the tartness of the cranberries and the brown butter?? (Not a huge fan of white chocolate? Feel free to sub in dark chocolate as well!)That’s the real showstopper, tying the two flavors together and creating a deep, rich, caramel-y undertone. OH, and that pinch of cinnamon? Don’t leave it out, it seriously makes ALL THE DIFFERENCE in creating a cookie that you just want to continue eating forever. 


Brown butter is great, it creates cookies that have chewy centers and crispy edges.  I will forewarn you though, that these cookies (as you can see) are more on the thinner side.  That doesn’t mean that they’re not soft, or chewy, but it does mean that they’re lite-versions (aka you can eat way more without feeling guilty). If you’re not quite sure how to brown butter properly, I have a step by step guide right here. 

CRANBERRY WHITE CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES | A dozen large cookies

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 sticks of butter browned and cooled
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 3/4 cup white chocolate chips
  • Sea salt or kosher salt for sprinkling

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a medium-large pot (needs to be big enough to hold all the ingredients), melt and brown the butter.  Allow it to cool.
  2. Once cooled, add sugar, vanilla, and egg into mixture and whisk together until smooth
  3. Then add in flour, baking soda and cinnamon.  Incorporate dry ingredients into wet ingredients.
  4. Fold in white chocolate chips and dried cranberries
  5. Refrigerate dough for at least an hour and up to 3 days (they only get better with time!)
  6. Preheat oven to 350 (F)
  7. Let dough come back to room temperature (otherwise it will be SUPER hard to roll into balls)
  8. Roll into golf ball sized balls and place on lined baking sheet
  9. Sprinkle on a little bit of salt on top of each cookie before baking
  10. Bake for 12-14 minutes or until edges are just beginning to turn a golden brown
  11. Cookies will stay fresh for up to a week in an airtight container

Enjoy!