Move over, pumpkin! This Thanksgiving, try ube pie.

ube cake

I have a deep affection for ube, the soft, sweet purple yam that colors pandesal, the Filipino breakfast bread, and appears in the pastry section of Hawaiian grocery stores and gives its hue to the outrageous cakes at Benji’s. Bakery. This Thanksgiving, I wanted to bring it to my family in the form of a pie. This recipe is a rich and vibrant “pumpkin pie” for the holiday dessert line. Every person I served it to was eating it for the first time. Every one of them said it was delicious. If you like pumpkin or sweet potato pie, this pie is for you.

Some notes. You can use any no-bake pie crust. I used my own salted butter crust, but changed the method a bit to get a lot more flakes. Using the same ingredients, I pulsed the food processor instead of letting it run, and left the pea-sized chunks of butter, some of them even as big as two peas. I added the liquid to the crust, pulsed once, then discharged onto parchment paper while still crumbly. Next, I pressed and rolled it into a novel-sized rectangle, then folded it in half and rolled it back into the same-sized rectangle. I folded it back, rounded the edges to form a disk, and popped it in the fridge for a couple of minutes. This method sheets the dough, a bit like a croissant, and you will notice the difference.

This recipe calls for butter and cream. If you’re trying to lighten it up a bit, you can just use milk. If you are not going to consume dairy, you can try oat milk and vegan butter. You can also reduce the sweetener by a quarter cup. There is also the treasure hunt for ube, which is a purple yam. You can sometimes find it in New Sagaya Midtown or other Asian markets in the produce section or shredded, in the frozen section. You can also use purple sweet potatoes or Okinawan sweet potatoes for this recipe, which are quite often found at Fred Meyer and sometimes at Safeway in the sweet potato bin. If using frozen grated ube, cook by covering with water in a microwave-safe bowl, then cook on high for 3 to 4 minutes, to soften. Don’t forget to drain. About 1 1/2 cups of cream, whipped with three tablespoons of powdered sugar and a little vanilla, will give you enough for a good amount of cream on each piece.

ube cake

Serves 10


1 pound, with grape skin/purple yam or purple sweet potato

1 stick salted butter, softened

1/2 cup of white sugar

1/2 cup maple syrup

1/2 cup cream

2 eggs

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1 9-inch no-bake pie crust

Whipped cream and freshly grated nutmeg to serve.

Method: Put the sweet potatoes/ube in a pot and cover with water, boil over medium heat for about 45-50 minutes, until very tender. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Remove potatoes from heat, drain, allow to cool enough to handle. Peel them or remove the soft meat. You should have about 2 cups of potato/yam.

In a blender or with a mixer, combine the potato/yam, softened butter, sweeteners, cream, egg, spices, vanilla, and salt. Mix until smooth. Pour into a no-bake pie crust. Bake for 55 minutes, or until set in the middle. It will go up and then go down a bit. Let cool completely before dressing with whipped cream. Sprinkle with freshly grated nutmeg.

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