These dessert cups bring together the essence of both sweet potato and pecan pies in pudding cup form. (Justin Tsucalas for the Washington Post)

These dessert cups bring together the essence of both sweet potato and pecan pies in pudding cup form. (Justin Tsucalas for the Washington Post)

Dessert cups combine sweet potato and pecan pies sans crust

Because no crust is involved, these pies in pudding cup form are much more healthful and simpler to make.

These little cups each cradle a perfect portion of creamy, cinnamon-scented, whipped sweet potato, which gets topped with a crunch of brown-sugar-kissed pecans. They are just the thing to satisfy an afternoon sweet craving, cap a cozy dinner, or curl up with at night in your PJs and fuzzy slippers.

These cups bring together the essence of both sweet potato and pecan pies in pudding cup form, but because no crust is involved, they are much more healthful and simpler to make. Made with enough maple syrup and butter to make them truly dessert-y without being sticky-sweet or overly rich, the cups’ individual serving size helps keep portions just right, with the added plus that you get to have one all to yourself.

The accompanying recipe calls for a cup of cooked, mashed sweet potato, so you can use any you have left over from Thanksgiving. If your leftover sweet potatoes are already whipped with butter, milk and seasonings, you can use that; just reduce the milk and butter in the recipe by half, and eliminate the salt. Once you taste this delightful dessert, you will want to pop an extra sweet potato in whenever you bake or boil some, just to have it again.

Sweet potato pecan dessert cups

Storage: Baked cups may be covered and refrigerated for up to 4 days and served at room temperature.

Make ahead: Unbaked cups may be made up to 1 day ahead, covered and stored in the refrigerator. Let the ramekins come to room temperature before baking.

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted, plus more for greasing the ramekins

1 medium (10-ounce) sweet potato, peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks

3 tablespoons maple syrup

3 tablespoons whole milk

1 large egg

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

¼ teaspoon plus 1 pinch ground cinnamon

⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg

⅛ teaspoon plus 1 pinch kosher salt

¼ cup pecan pieces, chopped

2 teaspoons dark brown sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees with the rack in the middle. Butter four 6-ounce ramekins.

Meanwhile, bring a small saucepan of water to a boil and add the potato. Cook at a rapid boil until tender, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and drain.

Transfer the potato to a large bowl and add the maple syrup, milk, egg, butter, vanilla, ¼ teaspoon cinnamon, and ⅛ teaspoon each nutmeg and salt. Using an electric mixer, beat the mixture until creamy, about 2 minutes. (The mixture will be somewhat soupy and bits of sweet potato will remain visible.) Evenly divide the mixture among the prepared ramekins.

In a small bowl, toss the pecans with the brown sugar and the remaining pinches of cinnamon and salt until combined. Sprinkle the pecan mixture on top of the sweet potato in the ramekins. Place the filled ramekins on a large, rimmed baking sheet and bake, 20 to 25 minutes, until the ramekins are set in the middle and the topping is browned. Let cool for about 5 minutes before serving.

Makes 4 servings. Nutrition per serving: 210 calories; 9 grams total fat; 3 grams saturated fat; 60 milligrams cholesterol; 135 milligrams sodium; 28 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams dietary fiber; 14 grams sugars; 4 grams protein.

Ellie Krieger is a registered dietitian nutritionist and cookbook author who hosts public television’s “Ellie’s Real Good Food.” Her new cookbook, “Whole in One: Complete, Healthy Meals in a Single Pot, Sheet Pan or Skillet,” was recently released. Learn more at

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