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!

Pumpkin + Sweet Potato Gnocchi

As a child, I used to hate sweet potatoes, I thought it was this gooey oooey vegetable the color of radioactive material that only the craziest of villains would eat. Looking back, the reason why I probably hated eating sweet potatoes was most likely due to the fact that my mom’s method of boiling cubed sweet potatoes to death was quite frankly, not the most appetizing dinner meal to ever exist.


Once I moved out of the house for college, sweet potatoes immediately became one of my favorite things to eat. Chock full of vitamins and fiber, easy to prepare and cheap (read: college student budget), I was pretty much hooked on this root veggie. The first time I made gnocchi was a Wednesday night after I discovered with horror that the only things left in my kitchen were a bag of sweet potatoes, eggs, and flour (in my defense, I had just returned from a weekend visit out of town and hadn’t had the opportunity to grocery shop…). It turned out to be one of the most delicious meals I’ve ever made (probably because I was dying of hunger), but it’s been my go-to gnocchi recipe since then.

Three ingredients, 30 minutes and a pot of bowling water is all you need for these delicious, fluffy and satisfying little pockets of joy. This recipe is actually THE best because you can use sweet potato and pumpkin interchangeably (!!) and if you’re in a time crunch, you can use canned sweet potatoes or canned pumpkin and end up with the same delicious result!

PUMPKIN or SWEET POTATO GNOCCHI INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/4 cup pumpkin or sweet potato puree (fresh or canned both work)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • A pinch of cayenne
  • A pinch of pepper
  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour


DIRECTIONS

  1. Place pumpkin or sweet potato puree in a large mixing bowl, add egg and mix until egg is incorporated and mixture is smooth.
  2. Add in salt, garlic powder, cayenne and pepper, mix well.
  3. Add flour 1/2 cup at a time into pumpkin/sweet potato mixture until a sticky dough has formed (at this point, you should be able to touch it and only have a little bit stick to your fingers).
  4. Place dough onto a floured surface and dust top of dough with more flour until the entire outside of the dough is no longer sticky.
  5. Divide dough out into portions and roll into long ropes about 1 inch in diameter taking care to keep exterior of dough always covered in flour.
  6. Use either a knife of a bench scraper to cut dough into 1 inch pieces (if you would like traditional gnocchi, take a fork and gently press indentations into dough pieces).
  7. Once pot of water is boiling, add in gnocchi pieces and cook until they float to the surface (about 5 minutes or so).
  8. Remove gnocchi pieces once cooled and toss in some oil to prevent sticking.

* *At this point, you can either devour them (which is what I usually do), or take the time to crisp them on the pan which truly brings it to the next level of cooking. In the photos I’ve included, I’ve simply sauteed the gnocchi with garlic, mushrooms and spinach, or topped gnocchi with some roasted veggies and shrimp.


Enjoy!