Sweet Potato Pie from the tropical Pacific made with purple Okinawan potatoes, macadamia nut shortbread crust and a layer of coconut haupia pudding. Then we topped it off with fresh whipped cream, toasted macadamia nuts and toasted coconut flakes. A scrumptious, good looking must try dessert this holiday season.
Okinawan Sweet Potato Pie
OKINAWAN PURPLE SWEET POTATO
I’m very familiar with the Okinawan sweet potato having eaten them all my life. Steamed sweet potatoes in general are common in Asian cuisine as a side dish, afternoon snack or with breakfast. It’s ironic that when you grow up with certain things, you take for granted that they are just part of the landscape. I never really questioned where they where from. I only know that they have a whitish skin with a really vibrant purple flesh. They have a sweetness that pairs well with pork tenderloin, lamb and coconut.
So where do they come from?
It is believed that these tubers originated in parts of Central and South America. During the late 15th century, they were introduced by explorers to China and the Pacific. By the 1600’s, they reached the island of Okinawa, Japan. Hence the name Okinawan Purple Sweet Potato. Some time within the next 100 years, Polynesian brought the potato to the Hawaiian Islands where they became part of the staple diet. They are a healthy superfood that is extremely drought tolerant and easy to cultivate. If you visit Hawaii, they are a common produce item in local grocery stores.
Why are they purple?
The color comes from anthocyanin red pigments in the roots and stems. Anthocyanins belong to the flavonoid group of phytochemicals. Think red wines, blueberries, olive oil and cocoa among others. Another super healthy food from this category are beets. Read about our Roasted Beet Salad with Raspberry Vinaigrette or Mixed Greens with Beet Puree.
They (anthocyanins) are stable and have the functions of anti-oxidation, anti-mutation, anti-tumor, liver protection, hypoglycemia, and anti-inflammation.NCBI, 2019
*CrossEat Tip: The peelings of the Okinawan Purple Sweet Potatoes are nutritious and edible. Instead of discarding them, process them with food for your pet. My dog loves sweet potatoes with rice and chicken. I will have more in a future post about cooking healthy for your dog even on a budget.
SWEET POTATO HAUPIA PIE
I started craving this a few months ago. Typically I try to visit Hawaii once a year. However, due to the pandemic, I chose not to travel this year. Part of my regular rotation is the chocolate haupia pie from Ted’s Bakery on the North Shore of Oahu and Okinawan Purple Sweet Potato Pie. The sweet potato pie in Hawaii usually comes with a layer of haupia. Haupia is a traditional coconut pudding thickened with gelatin or corn starch that you will see at luaus or as a dessert component in bakeries and restaurants. Another favorite of mine was the haupia cake from the old Yum Yum Tree restaurants. You can still find this at Napolean’s, Liliha and other local bakeries. Making this dessert brings a little Aloha to my home if I can’t visit the islands this year.
MACADAMIA NUT SHORTBREAD CRUST
Using a food processor, process the macadamia nuts till they are finely chopped. Remove the nuts and set aside. Cut the butter into cubes. Pour the flour into the food processor and add the butter. Process till the mixture is flaky.
Remove the mixture and stir in the macadamia nuts, sugar and salt. Place the mixture on a lightly floured surface. Flour your hands lightly and form a disk with the mixture. Wrap in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for a minimum of 30 minutes.
*Tasting Notes: Shortbread dough can last up to 2 months wrapped and refrigerated.
Preheat oven to 350F. Heavily grease a 9 inch leakproof Springform Pan. I used butter, but a non-stick baking spray might work better for this application. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and press evenly into the pan. Place the pan on a center rack in the oven and bake for 18 minutes. Remove and cool.
PURPLE SWEET POTATO FILLING
For 2 cups of sweet potato, you will need approximately 3 medium sized Okinawan potatoes. Set-up a steamer and *steam potatoes with the skin on until fork tender. There are other methods for cooking the potato (see below), but I like this one the best. Once the potatoes are cooked, remove from the steamer and let them cool for 3 minutes. Cut each potato in half and peel by hand. The skin should come right off. Pass the potatoes through a ricer or mash them, then set aside.
*Cooking Tips: Alternatively, you can peel the potatoes and boil till they are soft. Make sure they are drained well before mashing. Another method is to wrap the potatoes in foil and bake till tender.
Preheat oven to 350F.
Set up a stand mixer with a paddle attachment. On a medium high setting, cream the butter with the sugar and brown sugar. Add the vanilla extract followed by the eggs one at a time. Once fully incorporated, reduce the speed to a medium setting and add the evaporated milk. Mix well, then add the baking powder and salt. Turn the mixer off and remove the bowl.
Line the Springform Pan with a 2 inch strip of parchment paper above the crust. Pour the filling over the pie crust and spread evenly. Place in the oven and bake for 45 minutes. Remove and cool for 30 minutes.
My personal preference for coconut milk is Chaokoh brand. It is thick and creamy plus it works well with both sweet and savory applications.
Pour coconut milk and water into a small non-stick sauce pot. Place on the stovetop over medium heat. Mix the sugar and cornstarch together then add it to the pot. Stir frequently until the mixture starts to thicken. Remove from heat and pour over the sweet potato filling. Let it rest for 5-10 minutes, then refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Combine all the ingredients in a stand mixer. Using the whisk attachment, mix on high till the cream has achieved stiff peaks. The whipped cream layer can be applied in any manner over the top of the haupia layer. Make sure that the coconut pudding is chilled and set. I used a piping bag with a 20 star tip. Sorry, I love baking but I was never really a pastry chef. I piped small imperfect whipped cream roses in a circular pattern around the top.
Finish the pie with toasted diced macadamia nuts and toasted shredded coconut flakes.
Refrigerate the pie for at least 30 minutes before slicing.
The color on the dessert is gorgeous and makes me dream of Hawaii even more. It seems like a very dense dessert, but it really is not that filling.
Thank you for sharing some Aloha with us and reading our post on Okinawan Purple Sweet Potatoes with haupia pie recipe. Let us know if you tried the recipe and Enjoy!
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