Spiced Garnet Yam Tart by Chef Lizette Marx

Spiced Garnet Yam Tart drizzled with Spiced Apple and Kolsch Caramel Sauce by Chef Lizette

Spiced Garnet Yam Tart drizzled with Spiced Apple and Kolsch Caramel Sauce by Chef Lizette


Chef Lizette Marx

Chef Lizette Marx

Make room on the dessert table! Or if Chef Lizette had it her way, consider putting this Spiced Garnet Yam Tart in the spot where you would usually place the Pumpkin Pie. Yes, you read that correctly.

Chef Lizette Marx, Holistic Chef Instructor for Bauman College’s Holistic Chef Online Culinary Program shares her Spiced Garnet Yam Tart recipe that she believes tastes more like Pumpkin Pie than Pumpkin Pie itself!

Don’t believe her? Well, there’s only one way to find out. Check out her recipe below and try it out.

The Flavor is a Dream of Autumnal Goodness

Someone once told me the best pumpkin pie is actually made from butternut squash. I tried it and yes, this was indeed true. Butternut is silkier and has a touch more sweetness than sugar pumpkins but then I got curious and tried other squashes, like kabocha, acorn, and kuri. Each of these gorgeous winter squashes produced a delicious “pumpkin” pie. The results were so successful, I decided to branch out a little further to sweet potatoes and yams and discovered the Garnet yam.

Oh my goodness! Garnet yams! The interior is a deep orange and when roasted and mashed, the texture is smooth but thicker and less watery than butternut squash. Then there’s the taste…naturally sweet with hints of caramel. I still make a pumpkin or butternut squash pie now and again, but I actually prefer the Garnet yam version. When the yams are sweetened with maple syrup and spiced with cinnamon, cardamom, allspice, clove, ginger, nutmeg, and vanilla, the flavor is a dream of autumnal goodness. It tastes more like pumpkin pie than….well….pumpkin pie!

When we have company I always make this recipe a tart but when we just want a sweet treat I make a tray bake and cut them into bars. Either way, I hope you try it. You won’t be disappointed.

About the Ingredients

Spiced Garnet Yam Tart

Spiced Garnet Yam Tart

Since I also love to use healthy alternative ingredients in my desserts, I made this tart dairy, gluten, and egg free. I have nothing against each of these food groups but I had a client that couldn’t have any gluten, dairy, or eggs and wanted a seasonal dessert for the holidays. Enter the Garnet Yam Tart to the rescue. I am serious when I say, no one will miss the typical ingredients that go into this type of dessert. 

So you might be asking what ingredients make this tart hold together and taste so darn good? 

Agar Agar

Agar agar, a sea vegetable that has gelatin-like qualities subs for the egg. I pair it with a little starch from cassava flour to help ensure the filling has a custard texture. When used alone, agar can get about as gelled and firm as a super ball if you’re not careful so only a little is needed. Adding cassava or another starchy flour like arrowroot powder or tapioca starch helps keep the custard velvety. 

Coconut Milk

Ordinarily a custard may contain some type of milk or cream. That’s an easy one. I used full-fat coconut milk for extra creamy richness but if you want a lighter flavor you can swap it out for freshly made nut milk. Cashew and almond are perfect but you could try pumpkin seed or pistachio milk if you’re feeling a little adventurous. If you do try a nut milk, be sure to make it yourself for best results. 

Aside from the cassava in the filling, the main gluten-free part of the recipe is in the crust which is made from equal parts, almond, cassava, and tiger nut flours. 

Maple syrup and fresh squeezed orange juice sweetens the filling and a touch of coconut sugar rounds out the crust. I show you how to make this in the recipe below. 

Cooking Tips

Go Easy with Agar

This recipe is a breeze to put together once you get the hang of cooking with agar. Remember what I said about agar’s powerful gelling effect? It’s true. If you’ve ever had those fruit flavored gelatin squares at Dim Sum and wondered why they looked so pretty and delicious but upon biting into one, found them to be really dense, that was the result of too much agar. There are a couple ways to calm down agar’s gelling abilities:

1. You can use a little bit of lemon juice or other acidic ingredient to ensure when the gelatin sets, it has a softer texture


2. You can reduce the amount of agar and add in a starch like cassava, arrowroot, kudzu root, or tapioca starch. Each of these starches has its own characteristics. Kudzu is used therapeutically in Chinese medicine to support immune health and many different health conditions. I’ll be adding a recipe one day soon that includes kudzu so you can reap the benefits of this amazing starch. Arrowroot is also a great starch for thickening and soothing the gastrointestinal lining. I think my next article should be about these starches so more on this later. Stay tuned or if you haven’t subscribed to our blog and newsletter, sign up.

Other than this the only trick is to make sure you cook the agar in the spiced coconut milk mixture for 7 minutes. This timing may seem rather random but I tested it and it takes 7 minutes for agar’s magic to activate.

Blind Bake the Crust

The crust is a pat-in-the-pan variety, meaning you don’t have to roll it out. This type of crust works great with gluten-free flours because all you have to do is press the crumbly dough into the tart pan. The only thing you have to be careful about is distributing the crust evenly and when you press it in, make sure it isn’t too thin and fill in the gaps so it is nice and sturdy. Then, prick the crust several times with a fork. This is called “docking” in baking terms and keeps the crust from developing bubbles while it is baking. The next step is to blind bake the crust for 15 to 20 minutes and chill it completely before adding the filling. Blind bake as you might have gathered is just a fancy way to say, pre-bake.

Learn more about Chef Lizette by visiting our faculty page. You can also find the original blog post for this recipe or her website.

Spiced Garnet Yam Tart

Prep Time: 1 hour & 10 minutes | Cook TIme: 35 minutes

Add this dessert to your Fall time treats. Similar to pumpkins, yams are rich in carotenoids and offer a grounding sweetness all on their own, making them perfect for dessert. The garnet yam boasts a deep orange color and a creamy texture. When paired with warming spices like cinnamon, ginger, and allspice the result is reminiscent of pumpkin pie.

In this recipe, agar and cassava flour take the place of eggs and rich coconut milk steps in for the cream. The result is a velvety, smooth custard. Then, there’s the crust which is not only gluten-free but qualifies as paleo too! Made from almond, tiger nut, and cassava flour, the crust has a subtle malty sweetness that is similar to a graham cracker crust.


Tart Shell

  • ¼ cup almond flour
  • ¼ cup tiger nut flour*
  • ¼ cup cassava flour
  • ¼ cup coconut sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • ¼ cup butter or nut oil (almond, hazelnut, macadamia, or coconut)

Garnet Yam Filling

  • 1 large Garnet yam (to make 1 ½ cup mashed yam)
  • 1 ¼ cups coconut milk
  • ½ cup maple syrup
  • ¼ cup fresh orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon allspice
  • ⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons cassava flour**
  • 3 teaspoon agar powder
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 Tablespoon orange zest


Prepare Tart Shell

  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF
  2. Combine all ingredients together until incorporated evenly. Dough will be soft.
  3. Press tart dough into desired pan until it is about 1/4 ” thick. Prick dough with a fork several times on the bottom.
    Preparing the Tart Shell

    Preparing the Tart Shell


    Bake for 15 – 20 minutes, or until crust is lightly browned. Remove and allow to cool.

Make Garnet Yam Filling

  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF
  2. Pierce yams several times with a fork and bake in for 1 hour, or until very soft.
  3. When yam is ready, remove from the oven, peel and mash thoroughly. You should have about 1 ½ cups. Set aside. Any remaining mashed yam can be used in a smoothie, pancakes, or other recipe.
  4. In a small sauce pan, heat coconut milk, maple syrup, orange juice, and spices over low heat. Simmer until hot but not boiling, about 3 to 5 minutes.
  5. Add agar and cassava flour to a small, heat-proof bowl. Ladle in 1/2 a cup of the spiced milk mixture and whisk until agar and cassava are smooth. Then, pour the mixture into the saucepan. Whisk gently over medium heat until agar fully dissolves.
  6. Transfer hot coconut milk mixture into a blender. Add mashed yams and puree until smooth.
  7. Pour into prepared tart shell and bake for 25 minutes. Allow to cool completely before serving. Top with thinly sliced Fuyu persimmon or other fall fruit garnish if desired.


*Instead of tigernut flour, try making the crust with coconut flour

**If you can’t find cassava flour, use arrowroot powder or tapioca flour/starch.


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