Thursday, November 21, 2013

Sweet potato pie

It's Thursday and you know what that means.  Exactly one week from today is Thanksgiving!  The day when home cooks across America will be glazing, stuffing, roasting, and even frying turkeys of all sizes for the ultimate feast.  I cannot wait!

Today is also the third and final day of new recipes for delicious dishes to add to your turkey day buffet.  The theme is "Everything But The Turkey" since the bird is the easiest and most obvious component of the meal.  Plus, side dishes and desserts afford us the chance to be creative.

So far this week, I've given you recipes for fluffy sweet potato biscuits and irresistable warm farro salad with butternut squash, hazelnuts, and cranberries.  Today is time for dessert, last but most certainly not least.

Holidays are all about getting together with family and friends and celebrating something special.  And, let's be honest, 99% of those celebrations are closely tied with certain foods.  Think about various gatherings throughout the year:

Glazed ham and cookies galore at Christmas
Lamb and jelly beans at Easter
Burgers and popsicles on the 4th of July
Lobster and chocolate on Valentine's Day... and yesterday, today, and tomorrow, thankyouverymuch.

But, the most iconic culinary holiday combination has gotta be turkey and pie at Thanksgiving.  Every year we have at least three and sometimes four varieties of pie: apple, cherry, pecan, and pumpkin.  (Shameless plug for previous recipe posts in which you might be interested!)  Only a few years ago did the concept of sweet potato pie cross my mind.

I've loved sweet potatoes since I was a baby, according to my mom.  She worried I'd turn orange because sweet potatoes and carrots were the only foods I'd eat at first.  Nearly three decades later, I still love 'em.  Give me a plain baked sweet potato to eat, and I'll be yours forever.

When my aunt in Iowa mentioned baking a sweet potato pie, I was shocked to realize I'd never made let alone tasted a sweet potato pie myself.  With a one track mind, I was determined to find a slice at the next holiday party or potluck and, sure enough, I did.

"Ohmygosh, where has this been all my life?" said yours truly, with food in my mouth.

Some people have said it's exactly the same as pumpkin pie, but I beg to differ.  Pumpkin pie, while delicious, has more of a custard-like consistency and seems to be a vehicle for the plethora of spices used to shine.  It's delicious but different than sweet potato pie.
Sweet potato pie is the stuff of dreams!  More specifically, this pie.  With only a smidgen of spices, the flavor of the sweet potatoes really takes center stage.  Add in the smack-your-forehead of-course-it's-delicious flaky buttery crust and an optional but you-know-you-want-it drizzle of pure maple syrup, and every bite becomes an unearthly experience.  Pie enthusiasts rejoice!

Forget the sticky sweet potatoes topped with marshmallows.  Don't they both deserve a better fate?  Save those mini mallows for Rice Krispie treats and s'mores on another day. 

This Thanksgiving, let's rescue the sweet potatoes and reward them with the treatment they deserve.  Sweet potato pie for all!

Two years ago: Pizza burgers
Three years ago: Pecan pie with chocolate chips

Sweet Potato Pie
(adapted just barely from Paula Deen's recipe)
-makes one 9-inch pie

1 recipe pate brisee (or premade refrigerated pie crust, rolled or already pressed into pan)
2 cups cooked sweet potatoes
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, melted
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
Dash ground nutmeg
3/4 cup milk
2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup, plus more for serving

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Roll out dough and allow to rest for 5 minutes.  Press unbaked pie crust into 9-inch pie plate.  Crimp edges with forefinger and thumb or with a fork.  Chill in freezer until firm and ready to fill.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, beat sweet potatoes, butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla, and spices with a hand mixer until smooth.  Add milk and maple syrup and blend until smooth.  Pour into crust and bake for 35 to 45 minutes, until toothpick inserted into center of pie comes out clean.

Cool completely on wire rack.  Serve and drizzle with additional maple syrup, if desired.  Cover with plastic wrap and store in refrigerator for up to 3 days.

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