Dairy-Free Custard Pie, Two Ways

Having converted to a gluten-free and mostly dairy-free diet, I have been looking for a replacement for traditional pumpkin or sweet-potato pie. A friend sent me a recipe for Sweet Potato Bebinca from Nik Sharma and adapted for The New York Times by Mayukh Sen, which I further adapted to a more traditional pumpkin pie flavor profile.

The original called for a heavy amount of nutmeg and some turmeric. I prefer a combination of cinnamon, ginger, and allspice, but you could go with any combination of warming spices that you like. Coconut sugar has a toasty, rich flavor similar to turbinado or muscavado. If you can’t find any of those, use dark brown sugar for a richer taste.

The original Bebinca is a crustless custard that stands up on its own. Since I haven’t yet gotten to grips with GF pie crust I am just baking these as-is, but you could certainly use these as fillings in a pie shell if you prefer. Cook in a pie pan rather than a spring-form pan if using a crust. Due to the lengthy baking time I highly recommend covering the exposed crust around the rim to prevent burning.

The “pumpkin pie” version turned out so well, I decided to try a chocolate version, to replace chocolate cheesecake. Both are delicious and easy to make!

You do need some equipment for this recipe: a spring-form pan is the best vessel to cook a crustless, custard pie, and a food processor or blender is essential for ensuring the sweet potato has a smooth, non-fibrous texture. An electric hand mixer or stand mixer is nice to have but not essential.

Ingredients for the Pumpkin Pie Version

2 cups / 450 grams cooked sweet potato
1 13.5 oz / 400 ml can of full-fat coconut milk
6 large eggs
1/4 cup coconut sugar or dark brown sugar
1/4 cup dark maple syrup
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp dried ginger
1/2 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 cup coconut flour (substitute 1 cup wheat, tigernut, sorghum, or oat flour)

For the Chocolate Variation

Omit the ginger, allspice, cinnamon, and maple syrup
Increase the sugar to 2/3 cup
Add 1/2 cup cocoa powder and 1/4 cup very strong brewed coffee, cooled


Cook the sweet potatoes using your desired method. I like to slice them into 1/2 inch slices, coat with a small amount of olive oil and roast them in the oven for about 40 minutes at 375 – 400 F, but you can also roast them whole.

While the sweet potatoes are cooking, cut a circle of parchment paper to fit in the bottom of the spring-form pan. Open the can of coconut milk and use the hardened coconut oil from the lid to lightly grease the inner sides of the pan with your finger. Place the pan on a baking tray.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the eggs, sugar, syrup (if using), spices (or cocoa powder), coffee (for the chocolate version), salt, and coconut (or other) flour. I like to use an electric hand mixer for this, but you could also whisk by hand.

Place the coconut milk into a powerful blender or standard food processor fitted with the conical blade attachment. When the potatoes are cooked remove them from the oven and set the oven temperature to 350 F.

Let the potatoes cool for about 10 minutes, then peel off the outer skins. Measure out the correct amount of potato and add to the coconut milk in the food processor. Process until the sweet potatoes are completely smooth, about 2-3 minutes. Make sure the sweet potato mixture is just slightly warm before you add it to the egg mixture (so as not to cook the eggs). Thoroughly mix the sweet potatoes into the egg mixture using a mixer or whisk.

Pour the batter into the spring-form pan, and bake for 55 – 60 minutes, turning once halfway through the cooking time. Remove the pie from the oven. Move the springform pan off the baking sheet and onto a wire rack. Allow the pie to cool at room temperature for at least 2 hours before placing it in the refrigerator to chill for a minimum of 6 hours, or overnight.

When the pie has chilled, run a knife around the edge, then release it from the spring-form pan. Place a plate over the top of the pie and flip the cake onto the plate, then remove the parchment paper and flip the pie gently back onto a serving plate. Store any uneaten pie in the refrigerator inside of a cake keeper for up to 4 days.

Published by Sarah Scully

Sarah is a librarian as well as an avid knitter and occasional knitwear designer. She also enjoys cooking, gardening, hiking, reading, painting, and writing with fountain pens.