Need recipe for sweet potato pie -- with no added sweetener
November 16, 2017 4:38 PM   Subscribe

Want sweet potato pie with no sugar, no agave, no stevia, no maple, no artificial sweetener. My searches yield "no sugar" recipes with Splenda or xylitol. And paleo recipes with maple syrup. How do I make a yummy sweet potato pie with absolutely no sweetener added? Aren't the sweet potatoes sweet enough? I'm happy to add spices, eggs, dairy, nuts. Just no sweetener.
posted by valannc to Food & Drink (21 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
No, the sweet potatoes are not sweet enough.
posted by kindall at 4:40 PM on November 16, 2017 [19 favorites]

The sweetener is not a structural or chemical component, pick a recipe and just don't use the sweetener, that's your recipe for sweet potato pie without sweetener. Nothing else is going to make it sweeter if you don't add a sweetener*.

Is it going to be as good? No. I don't like sweet sweet potatoes, I only eat them savory, and while they are sweet for a vegetable they are not dessert-sweet or pie-sweet. If I was going to make sweet potato pie without any sweetener I'd also skip the spices and add roughly a truckload of garlic.

*You can maximize the sweetness of the potatoes by preparing them this way for your pie puree, but still they are only going to be vegetable-sweet not pie-sweet.
posted by Lyn Never at 4:45 PM on November 16, 2017 [12 favorites]

You can experiment with this. Sugar provides some of the binding, but you can try chia to achieve something similar.
posted by songs_about_rainbows at 4:46 PM on November 16, 2017

There are all different varieties of sweet potatoes, and some are sweeter than others. I’d go for Covington, sweet and fairly common (at least in North Carolina, not sure about other places).
posted by radiomayonnaise at 4:55 PM on November 16, 2017 [1 favorite]

Honestly, I would just make a crust, pre-bake it. Then whip cooked, cold sweet potatoes with four egg yolks and fold it into four egg whites whipped to stiff peaks, and then bake it in the crust for as long as you think it takes. Maybe with some orange zest and pumpkin pie spice. It won't be sweet, but it might be a novel approach to a sweet potato pie/soufflé.

You can also try some orange or apple juice in place of a sweetener, plus something like cornstarch or tapioca pearls to thicken it back up to the right texture. Juice is basically just liquid sugar, though.
posted by blnkfrnk at 5:08 PM on November 16, 2017 [3 favorites]

I think you can probably leverage this information-- cooking at just the right temperature by slow roasting means that more of the starch will break down into sugar. Add eggs and dairy and it will probably set into a pie? (Dunno, I'm not much of a baker.)

Better yet, as the recipe notes:

Sweet potatoes can be made even sweeter by pretreating them in a water bath to activate their enzymes. To do this with a sous vide–style circulator, set your circulator for 150°F (66°C). Place the sweet potatoes in the water bath and let circulate for 2 to 4 hours before proceeding with the recipe. To do this with a beer cooler, fill your cooler with water at 170 to 175°F (77 to 79°C). Add the potatoes, cover, and let rest for 2 to 4 hours before proceeding.
posted by supercres at 5:12 PM on November 16, 2017

the sweetest you can get sweet potatoes is as follows (I use garnet yams) -
1. wash it. while it is still wet,
2. wrap it in foil (ok to pack a few in same foil pack)
3. roast the living hell out of it, at least 2 hours, up to three, c 350.
4. leave to cool. when cool, pull skin off; it will come off easily.
5. mash up the pulp.

This will yield flesh with a deeply sweet and caramelized flavor. I still think it would need to be sweeter for a pie, but it's as close to pie-ready as you can get without adding stuff.

edit: I tried Kenji Lopez-Alt's thing linked above with the par-cooking a sweet potato at 150 for 2 hours before baking, the other day. It was not edible, do not bother.
posted by fingersandtoes at 5:12 PM on November 16, 2017 [3 favorites]

Whoops, Lyn Never beat me to it; missed the link in the footnote. Still, (maybe) worth a try and you can make the mash ahead of time to try it out.
posted by supercres at 5:14 PM on November 16, 2017

If maple syrup is out I assume fruit is out, too, but just in case not--in case the no-sweeter rule is a challenge you can follow the letter and not the spirit of, and not a dietary requirement--then you can puree some apples in.

Otherwise, the only way to really increase the sweetness is to roast your sweet potatoes and gently heat any liquid dairy you're using to bring out the natural "sweetness" of both ingredients.
posted by rhiannonstone at 6:23 PM on November 16, 2017

Savory sweet potato pie is totally a thing, and it's not just a dessert pie without the sugar. I have made it, and it's so freakin' good!
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 6:44 PM on November 16, 2017 [1 favorite]

Try it. Make sweet potato pie with out added sugars. Sweet potato, milk/ cream/ sour cream/ Greek full-fat yogurt, eggs, a pinch of salt, vanilla, cinnamon. If it needs to be sweeter, you can sprinkle on sugar. Before I stopped eating dairy, I made pumpkin pie with sour cream or Greek full-fat yogurt as well as milk. It needs some fat, but the tartness of sour cream is really nice. Yogurt's rather tart, but 1/2 yogurt, 1/2 cream is good.
posted by theora55 at 7:52 PM on November 16, 2017 [2 favorites]

When I was baking for someone with IBS, all sugars and fruit juices were out but dates in limited doses were ok. It does some moderately weird stuff to the texture of the filling, but custard pies are pretty resilient...and adding apples as noted above will help even more, if apples are permitted.

I recommend equal amount home-processed fruit paste (food processor) to amount of sugar it calls for, and add the liquid slowly to your mixture until the texture is close to right. It will never be quite as liquid as if you dissolved sugar into the batter, but if you mix the devil out of it while you're adding the milk you'll get something close to right. Reduce the eggs to 1 or 2, you'll end up with a custard anyway since the date paste doesn't really change in the oven.

If fruit juice is an option, pineapples are sweet as hell. Half apple, half pineapple.
posted by zinful at 8:05 PM on November 16, 2017

I agree with some others that you should pick any recipe and simply not add sweetener.

However, I disagree that this approach won’t be sweet enough for dessert pie. What do we know about your sweetness preferences? I regularly think roasted sweet potatoes are too sweet for a serious dinner food. They are just shy of candy for dinner in my book, and anyone’s personal mileage may vary!
posted by SaltySalticid at 8:08 PM on November 16, 2017 [4 favorites]

Thanks for all responses! I learned a lot! A google search on "savory sweet potato pie" yielded lots of recipes. I may try this one or this one. I'll definitely slow roast them to bring out the sweetness.

I avoid sugar for my health. Cutting out sugar helped me lose weight and improve some other health markers. I'm pretty strict about it, because it's so easy to have a little bit, and then the craving starts. So a more savory pie actually suits me.

Interesting to think about different varieties of sweet potatoes. It makes sense that some would be sweeter than others. I will be buying whatever variety my local farmers grow.
posted by valannc at 8:30 PM on November 16, 2017 [4 favorites]

I make sweet potato pie without adding sugar regularly. I think sweet potato pie is the best food on Earth. Other commenters are right that the trick is to slow roast the sweet potatoes until they are really, really roasted. I roast until the skins are puffed up and separating from flesh so soft the potato hardly holds together and there's caramelizing goo in the pan leaking from thefork holes.

Then put the baked, peeled sweet potato in a blender with

1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp ginger
350 ml evaporated milk
2 eggs

Blend until all mixed and creamy looking. Bake for 15 minutes at 425 deg F, then for about 35 minutes more at 350 deg F, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
posted by congen at 10:07 PM on November 16, 2017 [2 favorites]

Toss a handful of dates into the purée!
posted by AnOrigamiLife at 11:19 PM on November 16, 2017

I roast mine all foil-wrapped in the crock pot and they come out great, with no effort at all! Poke them and wrap in heavy-duty foil.
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 1:37 AM on November 17, 2017

Bananas, how long does it take in the crock pot and do they come out leaking caramel syrup?
posted by fingersandtoes at 6:16 AM on November 17, 2017

I like to make a layered dish of sweet potato cubes (and sometimes other root vegetables), green apple cubes, and thinly sliced onions, with salt and lots of pats of butter between the layers. This gets roasted at 400 degrees for about 75 minutes, with a foil hat for the second half of cooking if it starts to scorch. Pretty sure this would work great in a pie shell.
posted by aws17576 at 8:07 PM on November 17, 2017

My crock pot only really allows for 3 medium sized potatoes, or 2 large ones. I let it go for about an hour per potato, and then another hour for good measure. I use my crock pot's Low setting.

They do leak syrup (I use crock pot liners to make post-cooking life easier).
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 4:29 AM on November 19, 2017 [1 favorite]

OMG there's a typo in my recipe. I apologize profusely to anyone who tried to make it and failed. It's 350 ml of evaporated milk, not 250. It's the whole can! If the sweet potatoes are extra dense, sometimes I even add a little extra to help it blend easier.
posted by congen at 9:12 AM on December 1, 2017

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