Macadamia Nut

Purple Sweet Potato and Haupia Pie

May 18, 2013
14 Ratings
  • Makes 1 9-inch by 13-inch pie
Author Notes

The moment I returned from a summer vacation to Kaua'i, I was thinking about how to re-create one of the tasty treats I'd had on the trip: Okinawan sweet potato pie. A classic treat on the islands, the pie has two distinct layers: a bottom layer of Japanese purple sweet potato and a top layer of haupia, the classic Hawaiian coconut pudding. I toyed around with the spices in the sweet potato part and found that I liked more subtle flavoring; the haupia is a simple but nice and coconutty. And the two together make a delicious dessert that will fill you with aloha!

Look for the Japanese sweet potatoes at Asian markets that sell produce. The tubers can vary in size from tennis ball-sized to a foot long, but what's most important is that they are firm all around and free of any softer parts that are wrinkly and blemished. I suggest boiling them gently, but feel free to roast them instead. —vvvanessa

What You'll Need
  • Crust and Sweet Potato Filling
  • 2 cups plain graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled but still liquid, divided
  • 1 teaspoon kosher or fine sea salt, divided
  • 2 large Okinawan purple sweet potatoes (about 2 pounds)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 12-ounce can evaporated milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Haupia Topping
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 2 cups canned coconut milk (full-fat is best)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon light rum (optional)
  • lightly toasted shredded unsweetened coconut and/or toasted, crushed macadamia nuts to garnish
  1. Crust and Sweet Potato Filling
  2. Preheat oven to 325ºF. Combine the graham cracker crumbs, 1/2 cup of the melted butter, and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt. Mix well until the mixture looks like wet sand. Pour into a 9-inch by 13-inch baking dish and press the crust firmly and evenly into the pan (it only needs to cover the bottom). Bake for 10 minutes and allow to cool slightly. While the crust is in the oven, start the filling.
  3. Halve the sweet potatoes and place them in a pot with enough water to cover them well. Bring them to a moderate boil and cook them until the point of a sharp knife penetrates the thickest part of the potato easily, which will take anywhere from 15-30 minutes, depending on the size of the potatoes. Remove them from the water and cool until they can be handled easily. Remove the skins, then mash the flesh with a potato masher (smoother is better, but a few lumps won't hurt).
  4. Raise the oven temperature to 400ºF.
  5. Measure out 2 1/2 cups of mashed sweet potatoes into a large bowl. Add in the rest of the ingredients (including the rest of the butter and salt), and whisk them together thoroughly.
  6. Pour mixture into the prepared crust. Bake for 15 minutes. Lower the temperature to 325ºF and cook for 30-35 minutes more, turning the pan once during cooking. The pie is cooked when the center is set and doesn't jiggle when the pan shakes.
  7. Remove from the oven and place on a rack to cool. While the pie bakes, make the haupia.
  1. Haupia Topping
  2. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the ingredients (minus the shredded coconut and macadamias), and whisk together thoroughly to eliminate all lumps. Place over medium-high heat. Stirring constantly, bring to an almost-boil then lower to a simmer. Continue to cook and stir until the mixture thickens, 6-8 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool just until it is no longer hot.
  3. Pour the haupia over the cooled pie and spread evenly to cover. Refrigerate until the pudding firms up, at least 3 hours or ideally overnight.
  4. Garnish with toasted coconut flakes or chopped, toasted macadamia nuts. Slice into 15 rectangles, and serve cold or at room temperature.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Anna Francese Gass
    Anna Francese Gass
  • gingerroot
  • Hilarybee
  • cookinginvictoria
  • lapadia

20 Reviews

Elle January 1, 2019
I made the recipe for our family Japanese New Years’ celebration and was very pleased with the result. I didn’t have rum but used one tablespoon of Malibu and was thrilled with the flavor of the haupia; the sweet potato layer has just the right amount of sweetness!
Anna F. August 7, 2014
Hosting a luau tomorrow and this is on the dessert list. Can I make it the night before? Mahalo!
vvvanessa August 7, 2014
Hi! Yes, definitely make it the night before. It will allow the pie and haupia to set up nicely. Save the garnish to the last minute so it doesn't get soft in the fridge. I hope it works out well for you!
Anna F. August 8, 2014
Thank you!!! I want to try your fried potatoes/miso mayo next week…YUM! Have a great weekend
bbythesea December 20, 2013
I think it needs the purple sweet potatoes, they are more dense and powdery than the orange. When I make it I always drizzle liliokoi sauce-perfect! Fresh is always best but frozen juice works because its concentrate. Just thicken them up. aloha
vvvanessa December 25, 2013
Lilikoi sauce makes everything better!
gingerroot May 30, 2013
This is a fabulous pie, vvvanessa! I took it to a Memorial Day "poke and pie" themed party last weekend and it was inhaled with gusto. I modified it slightly by making it gluten free with gf graham crackers. My uncle said it was the best sweet potato and haupia pie he's ever tasted. I'll definitely be making this again!
vvvanessa June 4, 2013
Thanks, gingerroot! Tell your uncle that all he has to do is fly me to Hawai'i, and I'll make him all the pie he wants! Also, "poke and pie" is the best idea I've heard in a long time.
Hilarybee May 22, 2013
I'm looking forward to trying this! In the event that I cannot find purple sweet potatoes, would regular be a good substitute?
vvvanessa May 22, 2013
Hi, Hilarybee! I haven't tried it with regular sweet potatoes, but I imagine they'd work fine. The filling part of the recipe is based on a basic sweet potato/pumpkin pie recipe. Let me know if you try it! And maybe I'll give it a shot myself!
cookinginvictoria May 22, 2013
Beautiful recipe! Sweet potatoes, rum, and two types of coconut -- how could this not be delicious? Saved and on my list of recipes to try!
vvvanessa May 22, 2013
Thank you, cookinginvictoria. I hope it works for you!
lapadia May 21, 2013
Great recipe, V!
vvvanessa May 22, 2013
Thanks, lp! I was just thinking about you!
gingerroot May 20, 2013
YUM! A recipe after my own heart.
vvvanessa May 22, 2013
Whose heart would not love to be full of haupia?
Eat A. May 20, 2013
Looks very good, I may try this with purple potatoes. Nice photo, too!
vvvanessa May 22, 2013
Thank you! If you do try the potatoes, let me know how it goes. I imagine you might need a little more sugar, and I'd be curious to see how the texure would be different. I'm sure it would be great with just orange sweet potatoes, too.
Michelle M. May 19, 2013
I love haupia, and sweet potatoes. This looks delicious.
vvvanessa May 22, 2013