Sweet potato pie is relatively new to my Thanksgiving repertoire. I grew up with pumpkin pie for the holiday and, to be frank, I never really dug it. It was pretty much bland and boring in my book. However, years ago when I began dating my, now, husband and had Thanksgiving with his family, I delighted on an entirely different Thanksgiving feast: greens, black eyed peas, corn bread dressing, macaroni and cheese, and yes, the consummate of Soul Food desserts – sweet potato pie.
The bold nutmeg, cinnamon and sweet potatoes won me and my momma over instantly. Since then, I’ve been making sweet potato pies for Thanksgiving. I’ve tweaked my recipe over the last several years. It’s almost home-made (I buy a lovely frozen crust). Actually, it’s more like six because I bake enough pies to share with my large, extended family across two states. I can make pie crust from scratch, but why? Sometimes in life, shortcuts are worth it. I’d rather go for a walk than sweat the small stuff, especially with the stress and extra calories that come with the holidays.
This is an easy recipe, it just takes a couple of hours to do the boiling and baking. Don’t worry, you don’t have to hover over the stove, you can multi-task with this one. Don’t be tempted to buy the canned puree; that short cut is not worth it.
And, one more thing, this pie is damn good! There’s never a leftover, except for a few crumbs, if even that. This year, I’m topping it with home-made vanilla whipped cream and an extra dash of nutmeg. Note at our house, we enjoy sweet potato pie beyond Thanksgiving and the holidays, it’s delicious with a hot cup of tea, chai or coffee. I like mine room temperature and the husband likes his cold.
Tidbits on Sweet Potatoes
- There is some confusion between sweet potatoes and yams, particularly in the U.S. In American grocery stores, what are marked and we understand to be “yams,” including the garnet and jewel varieties, are actually sweet potatoes.
- Sweet potatoes spoil quite easily, especially when bruised and wet. Keep them fresh for weeks by storing them in a cool dry place like a pantry or cellar. Do not wash before storing since moisture speeds up spoiling. Do not refrigerate as well.
I prefer the orange sweet potatoes that are both sweeter and more brightly hued than the light-skinned version. I typically use garnet “yams.” This pie can be made a few days in advance. Allow to cool completely before refrigerating. Sometimes I have a little leftover filling that I bake in ramekins for my gluten-free friend.
Andrea’s Easy Sweet Potato Pie
Pre-heat oven 350º
Makes 2 pies
2 (9 inch) pie shells (deep)
3 pounds sweet potatoes (garnet yams)
1/2 cup butter (preferably unsalted), melted
1 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice, optional
Dash salt, optional if using unsalted butter
1/3 cup evaporated milk
4 eggs, slightly beaten
Vanilla Whipped Cream
Enough to top 1 pie
1 cup chilled heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 to 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Method – Pie
- Wash sweet potatoes to remove soil; do not peel. Cut potatoes into large cylinder chunks (about 3 1/2 inches long – leave skin on). On medium heat, boil sweet potatoes in large pot of water for about 30 minutes until potatoes are cooked through (pierce with fork, should be tender and no resistance; at this point the skin will start to separate). Drain off water.
- While potatoes are warm, remove the skin (they pull away easily using fingers or a fork). In a large bowl, mash sweet potatoes, butter and brown sugar together. (Use a potato masher for denser pie or hand mixer for fluffier version). Mix in vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, lemon juice and salt. Slowly incorporate evaporated milk. Taste and adjust spices. Add eggs.
- Divide mixture into two pie crusts (some crusts require pre-bake; follow instructions). Bake in pre-heated 350º for about 60 minutes until filling sets and crust turns golden.
- Serve warm, room temperature or cold, alone or with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. Sprinkle lightly with nutmeg or cinnamon after plating with whipped cream. If making a few days in advance, before refrigerating, cool completely and cover with foil.
Method – Vanilla Whipped Cream
Using a hand mixer, beat whipping cream, sugar and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract in large bowl until firm peaks form (about 3 to 4 minutes). Taste, add more vanilla if desired; blend again. Cover and chill. Can be prepared up to 3 hours ahead.