Dreamy meets healthy in this Vegan Vanilla Custard Cake with 2-ingredient pecan crust, low-fat vanilla bean filling, and easy berry compote to top!
Cream cake? Pudding cake? Cheesecake minus the cheese…cake? Mousse-like must-make magical vanilla stuff? Shockingly un-pumpkin for the first post of October?
YES. All of the above.
This recipe is inspired by the low-fat chocolate lusciousness that came before it, but with a change of color and flavor and crust. You may have noticed I nixed the low-fat part from the name too. Because lately I’ve been on mission embrace all the yummy fats and eat coconut like it’s my job (hey, sometimes it kinda is!), so that part of the title just didn’t sit right with me anymore.
In favor of focusing on what the recipe is rather than what it’s not, I almost called it: Very Extra Uber Velvety Vanilla Bean Custard Cake That Makes All The Cheesecakes Jealous.
But I didn’t want to start something with Cheesecake.
Not to say the filling isn’t surprisingly low in fat – free of cashews and coconut and all the usual creamy cake things. Ah sweet potato, how I love thee. If you hadn’t noticed I’m kind of on a sweet potato kick at the moment. Can’t help it, I’m just a big fan of everything that root does whether cookie or cake or cold and creamy.
Crust. Pecans + maple syrup makes for the simplest but so delicious nubbly crust. The same method works with any kind of nut (or even hemp seeds if you want it nut free!) Or you can use the more fine-textured almond flour crust recipe from the chocolate version instead. Or you can even use this medjool date crust to keep the entire cake fruit-sweetened.
Also, did I mention the entire crust is totally optional and I fully support eating the filling straight from the blender?
Vanilla custard. It’s about the simplest mix of things you can imagine: sweet potato, medjool dates, non-dairy milk, and vanilla bean. I used white sweet potato so no one would confuse it with the pumpkin EVERYTHING floating around right now. Because it’s officially October, so when on Pinterest and in doubt assume it’s pumpkin flavored. But orange sweet potato would work as well if that’s the kind you’ve got.
You don’t need too many medjool dates as the sweet potato itself is already naturally sweet, but 5 or 6 amp up the flavor nicely and help to thicken the filling without having to rely starch of any kind.
For the milk, I used light coconut milk because I somehow always seem to have 3 or more open and half-empty cans/containers of that in my fridge. But almond works too, or any kind you like.
Since I wanted the vanilla flavor to be front and center, I opted for real vanilla bean instead of extract. I am currently out of vanilla bean powder, so instead I threw half of a bean in there and blended (pod and all) to get the tiny black speck effect. And potent flavor of course. If you wanted to substitute extract, I would recommend 2 teaspoons. Or if you have vanilla bean powder then 1 teaspoon of that would work too.
Also, can we just agree whole vanilla beans = better than any perfume.
Similar to a custard or cheesecake, this cake does need to bake and then chill overnight before to set properly. Easy to make. Hard to wait. 100% worth it.
Berry compote. Because what’s a healthier cheesecake replacement without a berry compote to spoon on top? Keeping things simple as per the theme here, you only need 3 ingredients and about 10 minutes + cooling time. Frozen mixed berries (or cherries would be delicious too!) + maple syrup + arrowroot starch to make it thick. Ten minutes of stovetop cooking and stirring later, and you have thick sweet-tart purple perfection.
And it didn’t hit me until I was editing, but there is something a little sinister about the color scheme of this cake. So maybe it’s October apropos after all.
Vegan Vanilla Custard Cake
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 50 minutes
- Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
- Yield: 6 people 1x
- Category: dessert
- Method: baking
- Cuisine: american
Dreamy meets healthy in this Vegan Vanilla Custard Cake with 2-ingredient pecan crust, low-fat vanilla bean filling, and easy berry compote to top!
- 1 1/2 cups pecans (*)
- 3–4 tbsp maple syrup
Vanilla Bean Custard
- 1 1/2 cups white sweet potato, baked and mashed ((or the orange kind works too))
- 5–6 pitted medjool dates
- 1 1/4 cup non-dairy mik
- 1/2 a vanilla bean ((pod and all)**)
- 1 cup frozen berries
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- 1 tsp arrowroot starch (***)
- Preheat the oven to 350F.
- For the crust, add the pecans to a blender or food processor and process until broken down into small pieces.
- While it’s running, stream in the maple syrup to form a sticky clumpy texture.
- Press into the bottom of a 6″ springform pan lined that has been lightly sprayed with oil. Set aside.
- For the filling, blend all the ingredients on high until smooth and creamy.
- Pour on top of the crust. Smooth the top.
- Bake for 45-50 minutes at 350F.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool before chilling overnight.
- For the berry compote, stir together all the ingredients in a saucepan on the stove. Cook over medium heat stirring regularly until you have a thick chunky sauce (about 10 minutes).
- Release the cake from the pan, top with berry compote, slice, and enjoy!
*Can sub any kind of nut you like, or even hemp seeds for a nut-free option. Or use this date-sweetened crust recipe instead. **Can sub 1 tsp vanilla bean powder or 2 tsps vanilla extract. ***Can sub cornstarch or tapioca starch.
Keywords: baking, dessert, vegan, cheesecake, paleo, sugar free
This sounds delish..I’ll be making them for sure. I’ve been making the lemon tart you shared recently..so darn good..an probably a good thing that I only get 6 small tarts..I also started using Kashi organic cinnamon oat cereal for the crust..it’s way easier to find around these parts..I did order the crackers the first time I made it..then tried the cereal..it’s working out great. I also subscribed to your youtube channel.
Yay, can’t wait for you to taste it. That is such a good idea using cereal for the crust! You have my recipe wheels turning now… 🙂 I am so happy you like that one too though, thanks for the support Wende!
I’m glad I gave you something to think about =^)
I’ll be making this non cheesecake the weekend..I love that you use the blender..couldn’t be easier to make your desserts..an clean up afterwards.!
Lazy bakers/cleaners who still love sweet treats UNITE! 🙂 Hope it turns out wonderfully!
I wish there was a “like” to click on your comment..
Can’t buy white sweet potatoes here. The recipe sounds amazing and I really want to make it? Can I sub regular sweet potatoes? Thsnks for the help, Kris
Yep, regular sweet potatoes will work perfectly too! Enjoy 🙂
Mireille | the Tortilla Channel says
Natalie, what a beautiful recipe! That crust, that crust, it looks so appetising. Will need to try it. Thank you for sharing!
Mmmm yes the crust is so simple but delicious, and the pecan flavor tastes delicious in the finished cake too! Thanks Mireille and I hope you do get a chance to try it 🙂
Okay girl when I saw this on Pinterest I about DIED at how pretty it is and I literally thought to myself “that HAS to be something Natalie made” and of course I was right! With two of my favorite foods of all time, sweet potatoes AND dates, I’m pretty much sold already. But OMG the texture looks crazy good too! So thick and luscious…and I find it refreshing that you dared to stray from pumpkin during October, this looks too good to wait any longer for 🙂
Ha you are so sweet!! If only I had worked bananas into the crust or something too 😀 But we’ll let sweet potato be the star with this one. I love how thick and creamy and just freaking delicious they make things too! Thanks friend, hope you are having a good week 🙂
Amazing recipe! Can’t wait to try it. Do you think I could use pumpkin puree instead of sweet potato? I plan on making the recipe as is, but later I wouldn’t mind making a pumpkin custard/cheesecake in October!
The Vegan 8 says
So glad I finally have a chance to come over and check this out! Those berries on top are so freaking gorgeous with how they are shiny and glistening all over the place! I just love how they photograph. You are going to laugh too, but I literally had 2 people ask me about subbing my yukon gold potato in my vanilla ice cream with white sweet potato and vanilla bean!! I died laughing when your recipe posted and I thought, well I will just point them over here now, haha! I totally agree with you on vanilla bean being better than vanilla extract too..it’s infinitely better but they are just so darn expensive that I rarely ever use them and resort to my cheap self using the extract, but I can’t deny that the bean is just soo aromatic and elegant and amazing. And you are right, your berry topping totally is perfect for the Halloween coming up…see you didn’t even know it, but you created something October-festive without even planning it, lol!
Ha that’s funny, always in sync I tell ya! Although I actually had someone ask if they could sub regular white potato here and i was like NOOOOO. I don’t even want to think what that would taste like with so much potato in the recipe and so little sweetener. I think I’ll leave the white potato desserts to you, you are much better at using it sparingly lol 😀 Totally agree vanilla beans do feel massively overpriced. I’ve found vanilla powder to be a nice middle of the road, but I left mine at home when i moved oops! Need to order more. Accidental berry toppings that look like blood–it’s just what I do 🙂
I made this and it was amazing ! Wow
Alana!! I am so so happy to hear it turned out well. Thanks for the feedback and enjoy the rest 🙂
Made this with a couple substitutes (thanks for the options at the bottom of the recipe) and it was fantastic. Thank ya, you creative genius!
I am so happy it turned out well, thanks Jessica 🙂 Enjoy the rest!
I enjoyed this! This was my first time making a sweet potato-based recipe. I was especially impressed that the texture turned out so perfect with very little fat. My family liked the texture but they each said something about a flavor they couldn’t put their finger on, “a vegetable flavor or something… I can’t put my finger on it.” I was surprised they could tell, but they are less accustomed to healthy desserts than I am. I used murasaki sweet potatoes, light coconut milk, 5 (90 g total) medjool dates, added a little lemon juice because I felt it needed a little tartness. I’m looking forward to trying the chocolate one! The cocoa should outweigh any noticeable sweet potato flavor. Thanks for the creative recipes.
Also, it would be super helpful to include gram measurements on these recipes. Medjool dates vary so much in size and the amount that you pack the potatoes into the measurer could totally change the amount. Gram measurements are so helpful!
Hi Sammi! I am so happy you tried this one, yes it certainly does have a healthier more plant-y taste compared to a traditional cheesecake. That flavor is much less noticeable in the chocolate one, even my mom (who hates sweet potato) loves the chocolate one so maybe give that one a shot next 🙂 I am not used to baking by weight but am getting into the habit and have started including the gram measurement on my most recent ones, so hopefully that helps! Thanks for the feedback 🙂
Alexandria Phillips says
I made this today and it turned out AMAZING!! Thank you so much!
YAY!! I am so so happy you loved it, thanks for the awesome feedback Alexandria and enjoy the rest 🙂
Can this recipe be adapted for a regular sized pie pan? If that isn’t possible could this be adapted for a 9 inch spring form pan? I don’t have any spring form pans, but could borrow a 9 inch one from a friend. I visited 3 different shops with good selections of kitchen items, but none of them had a 6 inch spring form pan. The closest size available was a 7 inch. That maybe would work, but I would rather not buy a specialty pan because my kitchen is small.
Hi Beth! I haven’t tried it in any other size pans as that is the only springform I have, although it would likely work in a 9 inch just be a bit thinner. But a 7 inch spring form would work great! It will again be slightly thinner but close enough that it will still cook the same and not be too thin–that would be my best suggestion. If you do go with the 9 inch though, the bake time may be a little less–40-45 mins or so. Hope that makes sense 🙂
I would like to make this recipe as well as your Chocolate Mousse Cake so maybe the 7 inch pan is worth it. Your recipes are exceptionally good as well as healthy. Thank you for your advice as well as all the remarkable recipes.
So sweet! Thanks for the kind words Beth 🙂
Did you use Japanese sweet potatoes for this? I’m so excited to make this!
I did indeed! Those are my favorites because they are just so tasty, but any kind will work 🙂
I made this last night for a small dinner party. It was a hit! In fact, the most picky of my friends took leftovers home with her. What a compliment! I didn’t have berried so I made a plum/orange compote instead. It was excellent. I also added more vanilla since the half bean didn’t seem like enough.
A couple of suggestions — I wasn’t quite sure when it was done so I had to use some guesswork. You know, a lot of recipes for cakes will say things like “it’s done when it springs back to touch.” or “a knife comes out clean with when inserted.” It would be really helpful to add that kind of a tip. I think I over-baked it since my cake didn’t turn out as custardy as yours is in the photos. It was still good but it turned out to be just a different kind of cake.
Advice to others: be sure to use a springform. I didn’t have the small size, so I didn’t use one and the presentation was sadly lacking. I’ll buy one just to make this again! All in all, it was a really nice dessert.
Yay!! I am so happy to hear it was a success, and plum + orange on top sounds delicious😋 So I usually do include notes on doneness for more traditional baked recipes but since this one is more like baking a pie the touch/toothpick test doesn’t really apply. I usually just go by appearance and golden color on the top/edges here, but thanks for the feedback Andrea!
Ooooooemmmgeeee looks sooo good! Can’t wait to try this with purple sweet potatoes too 😉
Omg that will be AMAZING! Talk about a fun dessert, please send me a photo if you do💜
For some of your recipes you include grams as well… Any chance for this recipe too? 🙂
Hi Marko! I’ve just recently started including the gram measurements, so any recipe before October 9th doesn’t have the weights. I don’t really have the time to go back and add it to all of them, but if there is one ingredient in particular here you are having trouble with I’d be happy to help give you a gram estimate😊
if you could just estimate the amount of sweet potato…. that would be really helpful!
Thanks in advance!
Sure! 1 1/2 cups baked sweet potato will be about 300g 🙂
Thank you so much! ☺️
I have homegrown strawberries at home , can i freeze these and use them in the recipe instead of buying frozen supermarket ones , Thanks
Ooh how lucky! Yes, absolutely you can freeze and use them. But you can make the compote with fresh ones too, I just used frozen because that’s what I had and they’re cheap 🙂 Hope you enjoy!
I don’t usually leave comments but I had to for this one, this cake is absolutely delicious one of the best desserts I have ever tried thank you so much for such a great recipe!!
Hi Elizabeth! Ahhh I am thrilled to hear that you loved it! Thank you so much for taking the time to leave feedback this time, truly appreciate it 🙂 Enjoy the rest!
Hi, I love this recipe but over here dates and dried fruit are quite expensive and not my preferred go to, would it be possible to sub them for some sort of non-dried fruit puree like applesauce or bananas?
Hi Merna! Totally understand, although for this one you really need the thickness of the blended fruit to get the right custard texture as well as the sweetness. You could try adding coconut sugar or maple syrup for the sweetness and then more sweet potato for the thickness but I cannot guarantee the texture will set correctly. You could also try adding a tablespoon or so of tapioca or cornstarch help it set. You will have to just try it, but I hope that helps 🙂
this looked so Christmassy i made it for xmas day,,,was worried about the possible kumera (we call sweet potato that here in nz) taste,,no one batted an eyelid everyone loved it,,,i used the golden sweet potato as its by far the sweetest one of all,,,thankyou for the lovely recipe,,will definitely make it again
YESSS!! Always a good sign when no one even suspects the unconventional ingredients hiding in there😉 Mmm golden sweet potato, that sounds marvelous I bet it tasted extra amazing. Thank you for the lovely feedback and I hope you had a wonderful holiday!
I have made this, and am now waiting for the berry compote to chill. I honestly cannot wait to try it! Unfortunately, I do have a soggy bottom, and I’m gonna have to serve it with the parchment paper still underneath. Was there a way to avoid this? Should I have baked it longer?
Hmm not sure why the bottom came out soggy. You could try subbing half the maple syrup with coconut oil to get a more crispy crust😊
Okay, I’ll try that. Because tastewise, it was just… wow! So it would be great if I could get the crust right. Otherwise, I might browse on your site if you have more crust recipes and try it with a different crust.
Yep! If you are open to trying other crusts, this one might be good: https://www.feastingonfruit.com/sweet-potato-pumpkin-pie/
Thanks, I’ll be sure to try it out. Also, thank you for the measurements in grams in this new recipe. Very useful!
Hi, I haven’t tried this yet, but was wondering if there might be a pressure cooker cooking method. I am missing custard pie a lot since becoming WFPB, but, I think this might do the trick. Any thoughts?
Hmm I don’t own a pressure cooker and have no experience with them, so I’m not sure if it would be possible to make that way or not😕 You would just have to experiment!
Can I double the recipe and use a 9 inch pan? I am taking it to Thanksgiving and need more servings. If I do this, any changes needed? Thanks.
Hmm so I haven’t tested it in a larger pan but I think it will be fine. You will probably only need to 1.5x the crust though and double the filling. My only concern is if the filling is really thick it may take a bit longer to bake through so consider adding an extra 5-10 minutes to the cook time if it still seems really jiggly in the middle. Good luck!
One more question. Sweetened or unsweetened almond milk.thanks!
I used unsweetened!
Hi,can i know how many caloties in this?
Maria D says
This has become a household recipe. Thank you soooo much for this. How long does this pie keep for? I’m planning to make it for Christmas for all my family to enjoy!