Cynthea Gregory

A Hint of Africa

Serves 6

The sweet potato is such a versatile vegetable.  It is believed to have been taken from West Africa to the United States on the slave boats.

I love the mixture of the sweet potato, spices and pears, but if you wish to make this dessert even more tropical, substitute the pears for pineapple. For convenience, the recipe uses tinned pears; naturally, they can be substituted by fresh cooked pears.   

You will need a 20 cm cake tin with a loose base.


30 g pistachio nuts

30 g desiccated coconut

150 g plain biscuits (digestive)

50 g melted butter

Sweet Potato and Pear Topping

500 g sweet potato, peeled

1 egg

100 ml condensed milk (or dairy-free substitute)

50 ml pear juice

100 ml pear yoghurt

2 pears, tinned

2 beaten eggs

2 tsp honey

½ tsp ground ginger

½ tsp ground cinnamon

½ tsp ground nutmeg

Finishing Touches

Thick cream for piping

Coconut curls

Pistachio, chopped

Cooking the Sweet Potato

  • Start by cooking the sweet potato. Cut it into large cubes (2.5 cm).
  • Place in a saucepan, cover with water, and boil for 20 minutes. Drain. Cool slightly and add the egg. Mash to obtain a thick purée.

Making the Base

  • Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line the base of the cake tin with greaseproof paper.  Put the pistachio, coconut and biscuits into a blender to grind. Transfer to a mixing bowl. Pour over the melted butter. Mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon, so that the crumbs absorb the butter.
  • Put the mixture into the cake tin. Press the crumbs down with the wooden spoon. Cook for 10 minutes and then leave to cool.

    Sweet Potato and Pear Topping

    • Dice the pears into small cubes. Add the condensed milk to the sweet potato puree. Mix in the pear juice, diced pears, yoghurt, two beaten eggs, honey and all the spices.
    • Using a metal spoon, incorporate the ingredients together carefully. Pour the mixture over the cooked biscuit base and cook in the oven for 40-45 minutes or until the topping is set.
    • Leave the dessert on a rack to cool before you remove the cake tin. When it is completely cold, decorate by piping thick cream around the edge.  Garnish the top with a few coconut curls and chopped pistachios. Serve cold.