I’ve always had a love for sweet potatoes. It goes back to the many Holidays my Mother served them at our table with warm, gooey marshmallows on top. Anytime I can get away with eating something sweet as a side-dish, I am totally there. But sweet potato casserole was really as far as my parents ever went serving sweet potatoes. Dessert was always something purchased pre-made from the grocery store’s bakery. Usually a pumpkin pie. This Holiday season I wanted to try and take sweet potatoes off the side-dish menu and highlight them as a dessert, in a good ol’ fashioned sweet potato pie! No funny busy with his pie. Nothing fancy or out of the ordinary. Just straight up sweetened sweet potato custard. It’s the really the only way to let the sweet potatoes play the leading role and let their flavor shine.
Last year, I tried my hand at making my first pumpkin pie (a very similar task to making sweet potato pie). The recipe I used actually used 1 cup of mashed, canned sweet potatoes to enhance the flavor. But honestly, the flavor was strongly pumpkin, nothing like the sweet potato punch you get from this pie. The pumpkin pie was part of my “Thanksgiving Pie Fridays” series last year, along with Bourbon Chocolate Pecan Pie, and Deep Dish Apple Pie. So far this November I have shared the recipe for Pecan Tassies (little, mini pecan pies). This sweet potato pie is the second installment of my pie series and will be followed up next week by Shoo Fly Pie (stay tuned!).
My favorite thing about this pie recipe is how “no fuss” it is. It is simple and to the point, making your life just a little bit easier during the Holidays. There are a TON of other fun variations out there on sweet potato pies- toffee, cheesecake, crumble, etc. Which are all well and good, but honestly there is nothing wrong with keeping it easy every once in a while. Truth be told that’s why I was attracted to this recipe. First of all, the ingredients list was cheapest and secondly, it was the quickest fix. And the results? Nothing short of sweet potato perfection. It’s just slightly sweet and spiced. I really wanted to be sure to note that because if you like your pies sweet, you are going to want to add at least 1/4 to 1/2 cup additional sugar. And if you want a strong spiced flavor then you can probably get away with doubling the spices. Personally, I didn’t mind that the pie wasn’t especially sweet and spiced strongly, it just gave more emphasis to the sweet potato flavor!
I did two special things for myself with this pie. #1- I roasted the sweet potatoes in the oven whole and then scooped out the skin. #2- I ran the sweet potato flesh through my food mill. Why take these extra steps when you can just boil, drain, mash, and measure? Well, it’s all about personal preference really. Whenever I can, I try to roast vegetables. Boiling tends to leach out not only nutrients but flavor as well. SO roasting the potatoes retains a lot of their flavor, giving you a deeper flavored pie. And the whole food mill thing? That not only ensures a smooth textured pie, getting rid of all the lumps, but it also helps to minimizer the pulp. Is there anybody else out there that has a thing against sweet potato pulp?? Ugh, I can’t stand it! If it bite into a bunch of stringy fibers it ruins the whole dish for me. I can’t even think about it without feeling sick… yuck! So that step really isn’t necessary, it’s mostly to prevent me from having a meltdown later on when I am eating.
And one last final note- if you’re not afraid to make your own pie crust, do it. In my opinion there is nothing like a nice homemade pie crust. Personally I like using Cooks Illustrated’s Vodka Pie Crust. It’s pretty much foolproof. But if the vodka think freaks you out, here is a recipe for a classic homemade pie crust that is fantastic as well.
- 2½ cups mashed sweet potatoes (from about 2 pounds raw sweet potatoes)
- 1 cup heavy cream
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 Tb flour
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ¼ tsp ginger
- ⅛ tsp nutmeg
- ⅛ tsp cloves
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 unbaked single pie crust, chilled
- Lightly sweetened whipped cream or eggnog, optional, for serving.
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- In a large bowl, combine sweet potatoes, cream, vanilla, and eggs and whisk to blend.
- In a small bowl, combine the sugar, flour, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and salt. Add the sugar mixture to the sweet potato mixture and stir until smooth and well blended.
- Pour the mixture in the chilled pie crust and bake for 50 to 55 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the pie comes out clean.
- Transfer the pie to a wire rack and cool completely. Serve slices with dollop of whipped cream or in a pool of eggnog.
adapted from Sara Foster in “Baking From the Heart“