Saturday, November 21, 2009

Southern Sweet Potato Pie

A classic southern pie made with spiced fresh sweet potatoes, topped with toasted pecans and drizzled with syrup.

Southern Sweet Potato Pie

Southern Sweet Potato Pie was one of three pies that nearly always graced our holiday tables growing up - along with pecan, and pumpkin - though I seem to recall that me and Mama were the only two who truly indulged in the sweet potato pie. Somewhat likened to pumpkin pie, and certainly seasoned similarly, they really are different from one another, and if you put the two side by side, I'd be able to identify which is which, as easy as I can tell if it's homemade or made from a canned sweet potato pie filling. Not that there's a thing wrong with whipping up a pie using canned pie filling, but like homemade pimento cheese versus a commercial pimento cheese product, you can usually spot homemade.

Sweet potato pie is certainly a southern favorite and super easy to throw together though, so why not make a homemade pie filling instead? Fresh whole sweet potatoes are best - it'll probably take about 2 large ones - but frozen already chopped up sweet potatoes will work, or use an equivalent amount of canned or mashed pure sweet potatoes. Just don't use the sweet potato pie filling - at least not for this recipe.

Even though sweet potato pie might be more recognized as a holiday regular, it's pretty much welcome anytime, so if you have a family reunion, potluck, church supper or other gathering coming up, double this recipe and bring a couple of pies and see how quickly they disappear.

Here's how I like to make this delectable southern favorite.

Peel, dice and cook the sweet potatoes and let cool slightly.  Add them to the bowl of your food processor and toss in the brown sugar, egg yolks, half and half, vanilla, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and butter. Process until smooth. You can also do this in a blender, with a mixer or by hand.

Add the egg whites and cream of tartar to a mixing bowl and whip until foamy.  Sprinkle in 1 tablespoon of sugar and continue whipping until whites are stiff. They are ready when you can turn the bowl upside down without the whites sliding out.

Add the pureed sweet potato mixture to the whipped egg whites and gently fold together until blended. Don't whip it vigorously or you will break down the whipped whites.

Flute the edges of the pie crust and pour the filling in.

Sprinkle the top of the pie with the toasted pecans and drizzle with a bit of cane, sorghum or maple syrup.

Bake at 350 for about 45 minutes or until center is set. Enjoy!

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Recipe: Southern Sweet Potato Pie

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 20 min |Cook time: 50 min |
Yield: About 8 servings

  • 1 to 1-1/2 pounds of sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed (about 2 large)
  • 3/4 cup of light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 3/4 cup half and half
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup of butter, softened at room temperature
  • Pinch of cream of tartar
  • 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar
  • 1 unbaked 9-inch pie shell, homemade or commercial (Pillsbury recommended)
  • 1 cup chopped pecans, toasted
  • 1 tablespoon cane, sorghum or maple syrup, optional
  • Fresh whipped cream

Steam or boil diced sweet potatoes until tender; set aside to cool slightly. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Meanwhile, toast pecans in a skillet until fragrant. Put sweet potatoes in a food processor together with the brown sugar, egg yolks, half and half, vanilla, ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Slice up the butter and add. Process just until well blended.

In a mixer bowl, whip the egg whites with the cream of tartar until foamy. Add in 1 tablespoon of sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. You should be able to hold the mixing bowl upside down without the whipped egg whites sliding out. Add the sweet potato mixture to the whipped egg whites until blended well; turn out into pie shell. Sprinkle pecans on the top and drizzle top with syrup, if desired.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes until set. Shield the pie crust edges with aluminum foil about halfway thorough cooking time to avoid overbrowning. Let cool completely before cutting. Top with fresh whipped cream. Refrigerate any leftovers.

Cook's Notes: Substitute one large (29 ounce) can of whole sweet potatoes, drained and mashed, or one small (15 ounce) can of mashed sweet potatoes or sweet potato puree. If you use a canned sweet potato in heavy syrup, you'll want to drain well and take care with any additional sugar. Taste the mash for sweetness first before adding any brown sugar, then add a little, taste and adjust. Do not use sweet potato pie filling for this recipe.


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©Deep South Dish
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