Ube cheesecake is a deeply vanilla-flavored purple cheesecake made with a graham cracker coconut crust and coconut whipped cream. This purple yam cheesecake has the subtle nutty, marshmallowy flavors of ube, creamy texture, and a stunning purple hue from two forms of ube in the filling.
If you're unfamiliar with ube, it's a purple yam used in many Filipino desserts. Ube can be difficult to find, so this cheesecake recipe uses ube extract and ube halaya (or purple yam jam) for ube flavoring and color. Ube powder can also be used.
Although the ingredients may be new to you, this ube cheesecake recipe is really simple! It follows the same process as my other traditional cheesecake recipes, yet the flavor and color are truly unique!
Why You'll Love This Recipe
Ube - This Filipino purple sweet potato flavor is undeniably delicious and the vibrant purple color it gives the cheesecake filling is a showstopper! The nutty vanilla marshmallow flavor goes so well with the tangy cream cheese and sour cream.
Coconut - Sweet ube pairs perfectly with nutty and rich coconut, which is used in two ways in this cheesecake. First, it gets added to the crushed graham cracker crust, and second, coconut milk gets mixed with heavy cream for a cloud-like coconut whipped topping.
Make Ahead - This ube cheesecake is great to make ahead because it needs to cool completely before serving and can last in the fridge for up to a week. Make the cheesecake and refrigerate ahead of time, then make the coconut whipped cream when you are ready to serve.
What is Ube?
Ube is a purple yam that is a popular ingredient in many Filipino desserts and across Southeast Asia. It can be used in many forms including ube extract, but it is most commonly used to make ube halaya, or ube jam, to provide the best flavor in dishes. Ube desserts usually first attract attention for their beautiful purple color, but the flavor is underrated and so delicious!
What is the Flavor of Ube?
Ube has a mellow nutty, vanilla marshmallow flavor. It can be pretty subtle, but it is rich and sweet and delicious!
- Graham crackers. Nabisco brand graham crackers produce the sturdiest crust.
- Coconut flakes. Look for unsweetened coconut flakes or unsweetened shredded coconut.
- Ube halaya. This jam can be found in some Asian grocery stores or can be ordered online. This ingredient can be omitted, if desired.
- Ube extract. This specialized ingredient is required for the deep color and flavor of the ube cheesecake. Ube powder can also be used.
- Cream cheese. Full fat, brick-style Philadelphia brand cream cheese produces the best results. The cream cheese must be at a very soft room temperature.
- Sour cream. Full fat sour cream should be used. Plain greek yogurt can also be used.
- Coconut milk. The solids from a can of coconut milk get combined with the heavy cream to create the coconut whipped cream. A can of coconut cream can also be used.
- Heavy whipping cream. The cream (requiring at least 36% milk fat) should be very cold to create the whipped cream.
- Sugars. Granulated sugar is used in the cheesecake batter, and powdered sugar is used in the coconut whipped cream.
See recipe card for full ingredients list and quantities.
Substitutions and Variations
- Make the crust with Oreo crumbs instead of graham crackers for a chocolate version.
- Substitute ube powder in place of ube extract. Add in 2 tablespoons at a time during the mixing process (before the eggs and sour cream get added) until the desired color is reached.
- You can omit the ube halaya completely and just use ube extract or powder if that is what you can find.
- Use plain greek yogurt in place of the sour cream.
How to Make This Recipe
One: Combine the graham cracker crumbs, coconut flakes and butter and mix until moistened.
Two: Press the crumbs into the bottom ⅔ of the way up the sides of the springform pan, then bake and cool.
Three: Break down the cream cheese until completely smooth.
Four: Add the sugar and cornstarch and mix again, then scrape down the sides.
Five: Add the ube halaya jam and mix. Scrape down the sides again.
Six: Drizzle in the whisked eggs and vanilla while the mixer is on low speed.
Seven: Add the ube extract and sour cream and mix until combined. Scrape down the sides and finish mixing the batter together by hand.
Eight: Pour the batter into the cooled crust, then spread evenly to meet the edges. Bake according to instructions and cool completely.
Hot tip! Start by adding a 1 teaspoon of ube extract and mix. Add extra drops and continue mixing until the desired color is reached. The deeper the color, the more ube flavor.
Seven: Once fully cool, make the coconut whipped cream and spread n top of the cheesecake.
Eight: Add the toasted and cooled coconut flakes, then slice and serve.
- Make sure to use ingredients that are all fully at room temperature to minimize the amount of mixing required to incorporate the ingredients.
- Mix the cheesecake filling low and slow using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment or a hand mixer to prevent cracking when baked.
- Tap the pan on the counter before baking to remove air bubbles.
- Don't skip the pan of hot water in the bottom of the oven! This creates a humid environment for the cheesecake to bake in, resulting in a more even bake which can help avoid cracking.
- Cool the cheesecake in the oven, then on the counter, then in the fridge. Slow cooling reduces the risk of cracking.
- Cool coconut flakes completely before adding them to the coconut whipped cream to keep it from melting.
Cracking can result from many things, so make sure to mix the filling low and slow to minimize air getting incorporated, bake at a low temperature, use a water bath, and slowly cool the cheesecake.
Some specialty grocery stores or Asian markets will carry it, otherwise you can order ube powder online!
When the edges are set and the middle still has a slight jiggle, but not sloshy. The cheesecake will finish setting during the cooling process.
Store the cheesecake covered in the fridge for up to one week. The whipped cream will start to weep after 3-4 days. Feel free to leave off the whipped cream and allow guests to add their own whipped cream to slices.
To freeze, wrap the cooled cheesecake or slices (without whipped cream) in plastic wrap, then aluminum foil, then add to a zip top bag or airtight container. Freeze for up to three months.
Unwrap completely and thaw in the refrigerator before enjoying.
- Food processor or blender
- Stand mixer with paddle and whisk attachment (or hand mixer)
- Rubber spatula
Coconut Graham Cracker Crust
- 2 cups graham cracker crumbs 2 packs, 18 sheets
- ½ cup unsweetened coconut flakes
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ cup unsalted butter melted
- 32 oz full-fat cream cheese room temperature (4 blocks)
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup cornstarch
- ⅓ cup ube halaya
- 4 large eggs room temperature, whisked
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
- 1 cup full-fat sour cream room temperature
- 1-2 teaspoons ube extract
Coconut Whipped Cream
- 1 can coconut milk refrigerated
- ¼ cup powdered sugar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- ⅓ cup heavy whipping cream cold
- Unsweetened coconut flakes lightly toasted
- Preheat the oven to 350℉/177℃.
- Prepare a 9-inch springform pan by adding a piece of parchment paper to the bottom of the pan and clipping it in (cut excess off around the edges). Then, spray the sides with nonstick cooking spray and add 2-3 strips of parchment paper along the sides to cover it completely. I like to have mine come just above the lip of the pan.
Graham Cracker Crust
- Pulse the graham crackers, sugar, coconut and salt until fine and sandy. Then, add in the melted butter and pulse until all crumbs are completely moistened.2 cups graham cracker crumbs, ½ cup unsweetened coconut flakes, ¼ cup granulated sugar, ¼ teaspoon kosher salt, ½ cup unsalted butter
- Add the crumbs to the springform pan and use a ⅓ cup measuring cup to press the crumbs into the bottom and sides. Start by pushing the crumbs to the sides and pressing it about ¾ way up the pan. Then, press down in the center until it's completely compacted.
- Bake for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool while you make the cheesecake layer.
- Lower the oven temperature to 300℉/149℃ and add an empty casserole dish to the bottom rack of the oven. Set a pot of water to boil and pour into the casserole dish once boiling.
- Add the softened cream cheese to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or use a hand mixer) and mix on low until it's broken down and creamy. Scrape down the sides.32 oz full-fat cream cheese
- Mix together the sugar and cornstarch in a bowl, then add to the cream cheese and mix on low until fully combined. Add the ube halaya and mix again until evenly distributed. Scrape down the sides again.1 cup granulated sugar, ¼ cup cornstarch, ⅓ cup ube halaya
- Crack the eggs into a separate bowl and whisk to break down. Add the vanilla into the eggs. With the mixer running on low speed, drizzle in the eggs and mix until fully incorporated.4 large eggs, 1 tablespoon vanilla
- Scrape down the sides one more time, then add the sour cream and mix on low until incorporated. Add 1-2 teaspoons of ube extract and mix again to deepen the color (and flavor). Use a rubber spatula to mix one more time by hand to remove any air bubbles. Tap it on the counter a few times then let it sit for about 5 minutes.1 cup full-fat sour cream, 1-2 teaspoons ube extract
- Pour the cheesecake batter into the crust and use your spatula to smooth it out to meet the edges. Bake in the center rack for 1 hour 45 minutes.
- Turn off the oven and crack it open slightly for 1 hour. Transfer the cheesecake to a wire rack and cool at room temperature for 30 minutes. Finally, transfer to the fridge (uncovered) and chill for at least 8 hours.
Coconut Whipped Cream
- Add the coconut flakes to a frying pan over medium heat and toast until lightly browned, tossing every 15 seconds. Transfer to a plate to cool completely.Unsweetened coconut flakes
- Open the can of coconut milk and remove some of the cream. Pour out all liquid (reserving for another use), then add all of the solidified cream to a bowl.1 can coconut milk
- Add the powdered sugar and vanilla and use a stand mixer (with paddle attachment) or hand mixer to break down the coconut cream until smooth and creamy.¼ cup powdered sugar, ½ teaspoon vanilla
- Switch to a whisk attachment (if using a stand mixer) and add the heavy whipping cream and mix on low to combine, then increase the speed and whip on medium high speed until light and fluffy and peaks form.⅓ cup heavy whipping cream
- Dollop, spread, or pipe the whipped cream on top of the chilled cheesecake, then top with toasted coconut flakes before serving.