Italian Torta Della nonna is a delicious vegan custard cream pie recipe made with buttery shortcrust pastry, creamy pudding-like cheesecake filling, and topped with crunchy almonds. Use your favorite cookies, red berries or other fruits and decorations you like for the perfect afternoon dessert or birthday cake!
Vegan Custard Pie Cheesecake Recipe
As you may have already noticed, I am a big fan of any baked goods that have a creamy filling. Especially, a crumble cake with cheesecake filling or a tart with pudding-like custard filling is one of my favorite desserts!
Over the years, I have shared some similar recipes here on the blog like cranberry crumb cake or red currant streusel cheesecake. However, I figured out that my favorite recipe for this vegan Torta Della Nonna is still missing. So here’s the recipe, finally! I hope you’ll love it as much as I do!
What is Torta Della Nonna?
Torta Della Nonna is a popular Tuscan dessert which means literally “grandmother’s cake” in Italian. Actually, it is a traditional Italian pie (tart) that is made with shortcrust pastry and creamy custard filling.
While the traditional Torta Della Nonna is often made with eggs, dairy milk and regular butter, I made my custard tart vegan. So this recipe is egg-free, dairy-free, lactose-free but tastes as delicious as the traditional custard tart!
How to make Torta Della Nonna
Step 1: Make the Shortcrust Pastry
Start to make the shortcrust pastry. Place the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder in a large mixing bowl. Next, add in vegan butter (or coconut oil) and cold water. Use your hand to knead the ingredients together briefly until a dough forms. Please do not overwork the dough or it may get tough. Then form the dough to a disc, wrap it tightly in foil and place in the fridge for 1 hour.
Step 2: Make the Custard filling
To make the vegan custard filling, combine coconut milk, sugar, vanilla, and a pinch of turmeric for yellow color as desired in a saucepan and bring to a bowl. Meanwhile, in a measuring jar or cup, stir together the almond milk and cornstarch. Once the coconut milk mixture is boiling, whisk in the cornstarch mixture. Simmer over medium-low heat until the vanilla custard is thick and creamy.
Transfer the custard into a bowl and cover with foil as I’ve already done in this vegan chocolate cream pie recipe. The foil prevents the custard from forming a skin. Set aside to cool completely. To speed up the cooling process you can also place the bowl over an ice water bath as desired.
When the vegan custard has room temperature, remove the foil and mix it with an electric handheld mixer until creamy. In a separate bowl mix the non-dairy cream cheese (or coconut cream) until creamy and fluffy. Then mix the custard and vegan cream cheese together until combined.
Step 3: Assemble the Torta Della Nonna
Now start to assemble the pie. Remove the pastry from the fridge and divide it into a larger piece (2/3) and a smaller piece (1/3). On a lightly floured surface, roll out the larger piece of pastry into a circle so it is a little larger than your tart pan.
Then, carefully, transfer to the pan and press it firmly against the bottom and up the sides with your fingers so it sticks to the pan. Prick the bottom a few times with the fork. Fill the custard cream into the pie shell, smoothing out evenly.
Next, roll out the remaining 1/3 of dough and cut it out so it is large enough to cover the top. You can use any leftover dough to make small cookies as desired. Prick the top pastry a few times with a fork to allow steam evaporates during baking. Sprinkle with almonds or pine nuts or a combination of both. Bake the vegan cheesecake tart for about one hour, or until the pastry is golden and crispy.
Pine nuts or Almonds for the topping?
While the traditional Torta Della Nonna recipe calls for pine nuts for the topping, I prefer using flaked almonds or a combination of both. However, you can actually use your favorite nut variety, such as shredded coconut flakes, chopped walnuts or hazelnuts. Also, fresh berries, such as red currants or pomegranate as well as leftover Christmas cookies like vegan Linzer cookies or gingerbread man make a fancy decoration!
This Vegan Custard Cream Pie Recipe is:
- can be made gluten-free
- with creamy custard filling
- & crunchy tart crust
- Perfectly sweet
- Flavored with vanilla
- So delicious
- The perfect Italian tart dessert for any occasion!
How to store, freeze & make-ahead?
You can store the vegan custard pie in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. However, I don’t recommend freezing it because this will change the consistency of the custard cream.
This vegan custard tart recipe is perfect to make ahead of time! You can prepare the shortcrust pastry dough as instructed in the recipe box. Then wrap it in foil and store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 3 months. I suggest cooking the custard one day in advance so it has enough time to cool.
Looking for more vegan cake or tart recipes with a crunchy crust and creamy filling? If so, you‘ll also like the following:
- Cherry Crumble Cheesecake
- Poppyseed Cheesecake
- Blueberry Crumble Cake
- Red Currant Streusel Cake
- Cranberry Crumb Cake
- Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars
- No-Bake Vanilla Custard Tart
If you try this Torta Della Nonna Recipe be sure to leave a comment and rating letting me know how it turns out! Your feedback is always very helpful for me and other readers who are planning to try the recipe. And if you take a photo of your Italian vegan custard pie cheesecake, please make sure to tag me on Instagram @biancazapatka #biancazapatka because I love seeing your remakes! Happy cooking!
Vegan Custard Pie (Italian Torta della Nonna)
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- ⅔ cup flaked almonds or sub more pine nuts
- ⅓ cup pine nuts or sub more almonds
- In a large mixing bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar.
- Cut the vegan butter into small pieces, then add to the flour mixture along with the non-dairy milk. Knead everything together with your hands briefly until a dough forms. Form the dough into a disc, wrap tightly in foil and refrigerate for 1 hour.
- Add the coconut milk, vanilla extract and lemon zest of one lemon in a saucepan. Stir to combine and bring to a boil. In a measuring cup, stir together the non-dairy milk and cornstarch until smooth, then whisk it into the coconut milk along with the sugar. Cook while stirring constantly until the custard is thick and creamy.
Assemble the tart (*see step-by-step photos above)
- Preheat the oven to 356°F (180°C). Lightly grease an 8.5-inch (22cm) deep tart pan or pie dish or springform pan).
- Divide the chilled shortcrust pastry dough into a larger piece (2/3) and a smaller piece (1/3).
- Roll out the larger piece of dough on a lightly floured surface into a round circle so it’s a little larger than your pan. Then, carefully, transfer into the pan and press the bottom and sides firmly with your fingers. Prick the bottom a few times with a fork.
- Mix the cooled custard with an electric hand mixer until creamy. In a separate bowl, mix the vegan cream cheese (or coconut cream) until creamy and fluffy (no need to clean the beaters). Then mix the custard and vegan cream cheese together until combined. Spread it onto the pastry and smooth it out evenly.
- Roll out the remaining 1/3 of pastry and cut it into a round circle so it’s large enough to cover the top of your tart. Then place it over the custard cream and prick the top a few times with a fork. (You can use up the leftover dough to make mini cookies for the decoration if desired).
- Sprinkle the almond flakes and pine nuts over the tart. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until the pastry is golden and crisp.
- Let it cool to room temperature. Then cover with a clean kitchen towel and place in the fridge overnight, until the filling is set.
- Decorate with berries or cookies or other toppings you like. Dust with powdered sugar and enjoy!
- Gluten-free pie crust: you can sub a gluten-free flour blend 1:1. I suggest adding an additional flax-egg (stir 1 tbsp ground flax seeds into 3 tbsp hot water and set aside for about 5 minutes until jelly) to prevent a crumbly dough.
- Coconut milk & almond milk: You can substitute another rich and creamy non-dairy milk/ cream or your favorite flavored drink. If it’s sweetened, make sure to taste and adjust sweetness.
- Vegan cream cheese: You can substitute thick coconut yogurt or coconut cream.
- Make-Ahead Tip: You can make the pie dough in advance, wrap in foil and refrigerate for up to 5 days or freeze it for up to 3 months. To thaw, store overnight in the refrigerator.
- Storage: The baked custard tart can be stored in the fridge for up 4 days.
- The preparation time does not include chill time.
- Please read my blog post for additional information about this recipe.
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