Ube is having its moment right now. It’s been popular in Asian cuisine for a long time but currently trending as a popular flavor. No complaints from me since I love ube. Even Trader Joe’s has jumped on the band wagon with their ube ice cream, which I’ve yet to try still (someone email me if I’m missing out please). Ube is purple yam; the word ube is the Filipino word for purple yam and has become ubiquitous with this tuber. Ube is deceiving. The white outer skin hides the gorgeous purple inside. Ube should not be confused with taro or Japanese sweet potato; the textures and flavor profiles are completely different. Ube is lightly sweet with wonderful nutty and earthy tones. Purple yam is an important crop to Southeast Asia as it’s become a main ingredient in many dishes, in particular desserts.
Currently, purple is the hot color in desserts. Ube ice cream, ube donuts, ube crepe cakes, ube baked cakes are everywhere you look right now. I noticed there wasn’t an ube cream pie though. I personally love coconut cream pies; I could eat one all on my own (and I have). But the problem is that they can get very very sweet. While conceptualizing this dessert, I felt that the ube would tone down the sweetness a lot as purple yam adds an amazing nuttiness. The filling for the pie is a simple pastry cream that I made slightly thicker to compensate adding what I’m dubbing as ube paste into it. The ube does loosen the pastry cream a bit and can make the filling a little runny so it’s important to refrigerate it to firm it up.
A couple of tips for this recipe:
- Make the ube paste ahead of time. It’s very time consuming to sieve 2 1/2 pounds of purple yam. You can skip this step if you really don’t want to do it, but I think the smoothness of the ube adds a lot to the filling. You can argue with me that you want some chunks of ube all you want, but when eating a cream pie, I want it to be creamy. If you’re like me and like making paste out of things, think of investing in a sieve.
- Cover your pastry cream with plastic wrap when chilling. And when I say cover, I mean push down the plastic wrap onto your pastry cream. This way, your pastry cream doesn’t create that crusty film on top.
- The crust can get creative. I added black sesame seeds to my crust as I felt it added another flavor profile to the pie. If you don’t like sesame or don’t have them, you can add something else like almonds or walnuts to the crust. It just adds another textural component to the pie.
- Whipped cream can have ube too! If you have more ube paste, you can definitely mix it into your whipped cream before topping the custard. I didn’t do it because I wanted to keep the colors separate. But if you want to really make this ube forward, go for it and purple it up!
- As this pie is pretty delicate, I would recommend using a pie pan that the pie can just stay in. Meaning, don’t use a metal pie crust that requires you to unmold the pie. If you’re making this for a party or gathering, consider using a Pyrex pie pan or a pretty porcelain pie pan. This pie is gonna sit in there until you’ve finished eating it.
Ube Cream Pie
- 9 graham crackers
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 1 egg yolk
- 1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 2 tablespoons black sesame seeds
- 3 cups ube paste
- 2 1/4 cups milk
- 6 large egg yolks
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup cornstarch
- 1 1/2 cup whipping cream
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- Step 1 Peel ube and steam until soft. Then mash ube and push through a fine mesh sieve to create ube paste. This step is laborious and can be completed up to two nights before assembly.
- Step 2 Preheat oven to 350F.
- Step 3 In a food processor, combine all crust ingredients except the sesame seeds and pulse gently until graham crackers are the consistency of wet sand. The pieces shouldn’t be too fine. Mix in sesame seeds.
- Step 4 Transfer to a 9.5″ pie pan and press firmly and evenly on the edges and bottom of the pan to create an even layer of crust.
- Step 5 Bake for 15 minutes until golden brown. Let cool completely before adding filling.
- Step 6 In a large bowl, whisk 1/2 cup milk, egg yolks, 1/4 cup sugar, and corn starch until smooth.
- Step 7 In a sauce pan, heat remaining milk and sugar until warm.
- Step 8 Slowly whisk the heated milk mixture into the egg yolks.
- Step 9 Return the mixture back to the sauce pan and cook over medium heat. Whisk constantly and the mixture will thicken as it cooks.
- Step 10 Pour pastry cream into a bowl and mix in 3 cups of ube paste. Chill for at least 4 hours before adding to the crust. Even it out with an offset spatula.
- Step 11 Beat cream on medium-high until soft peaks form. Add sugar.
- Step 12 Top the custard with the whipped cream and serve.