Monday, October 17, 2011

Sweet Potato Pie

It's one of those fantastic autumn afternoons where the trees a bursts of color but the sunshine still feels like summer, there's just the slightest chill in the air. And I came home early from campus to add my beloved green apron to my outfit, which already would have fit in well on the set of Julie & Julia. My church ward is having a pumpkin carving activity next week, and since we have an excess of graham crackers from our last s'more activity, I've been called upon to concoct a recipe for a marshmallow-topped sweet potato pie with a graham cracker crust. I'm not sure that I've ever been so happy about a church assignment.

I've never even tasted sweet potato pie until today—much less attempted to make one before—but I'm happy to report that my Tasting Committee (roommmates and boyfriend) all approved of this latest incarnation of my favorite starchy superfood. The flavors were warm without being overwhelming, the consistency was decadent, but not overly rich, and the addition of the toasted marshmallows added a bit of whimsy. Yes, pies can be whimsical. Since I lacked any experience with this particular pie, I turned to Smitten Kitchen; the filling recipe belongs to her, with a few minor tweaks. For a sweet way to celebrate autumn's goodness, try this pie!

Sweet Potato Pie

Graham Cracker Crust
12 Graham Crackers
5 tblsp. butter, melted, plus some softened for buttering pie dish
3 tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
(1/4 tsp. salt if using unsalted butter)

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Put your graham crackers in a plastic bag (layer two bags if yours are a bit flimsy). Find a sturdy object (I used a rolling pin) & bash them to bits. This is great fun, but may startle your neighbors. In a large bowl, melt 5 tblsp. of the butter. Also coat the inside of your pie dish in butter (I used the remnants that stuck to the wrapper). Add brown sugar and vanilla to melted butter and stir until smooth. Add crushed graham crackers and mix until butter mixture is thoroughly blended throughout. Spread crumbly crust mixture into pan and press it down firmly, pushing crumbs up the sides of the pan. Bake for 10–12 minutes, until crust is golden and crisp, but not dark brown. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

Sweet Potato Filling
This recipe is taken directly from Smitten Kitchen; my only additions were a dash of ground ginger and the marshmallows on top.

1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes (about 2 medium potatoes), peeled and chopped into a 1/2-inch dice (I used two fairly large potatoes and had twice what I needed. One large sweetie would do the trick.)
4 tblsp. butter, melted
1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. salt if using unsalted butter, 1/4 tsp. if using salted butter
3 large eggs, separated
1/2 cup sugar
2 tblsp. all-purpose flour
3/4 cup full- or lowfat buttermilk (or, you can make your own, see below)
About 20 large marshmallows, cut in half, or as many mini marshmallows as it takes to cover the pie

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Pour 1 1/2 inches of water into a 3-quart stock part with a strainer basket suspended over it and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the sweet potatoes, cover and steam until fork-tender, about 20 minutes. Place the steamed sweet potatoes in a large bowl and let cool to room temperature. Mash them into a smooth puree with a fork or potato masher. You should have 1 1/4 cups puree; discard any excess (by topping with a pat of butter, sprinkling with salt and cinnamon and making yourself a most-excellent snack). Add the butter, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, and salt; mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula after each addition.

2. In a small bowl, beat the egg yolks lightly with a whisk, about 30 seconds. Add the sugar and beat until they’re a creamy lemon-yellow color, about 1 1/2 minutes. Add the egg mixture to the sweet potato mixture and stir until the eggs are thoroughly incorporated and the filling is a consistent bright orange color. Add the flour a little at a time, stirring after each addition until thoroughly incorporated. Add the buttermilk and again stir until smooth and even.

3. With a cleaned whisk (or electric hand mixer), whisk the egg whites to soft peaks in a clean, dry bowl. With a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, gently fold the egg whites into the sweet potato-buttermilk mixture until thoroughly combined. Pour the mixture into the crust and bake on the middle rack of the oven until the center is fairly firm, only jiggling ever-so-slightly if you give it a light shake, about 30 minutes. Remove the pie from the oven and turn your oven to broil. Top with marshmallows and return the pie to the oven. BE VERY CAREFUL NOT TO BURN THE MARSHMALLOWS! Leave your oven door open a crack or even try simply baking them (at about 400°F). They will go from white to charcoal super fast under a broiler; this step of the baking process shouldn't take more than three minutes.

4. I suggest allowing the pie to cool slightly before serving, but it's good both warm and cold. Happy Baking!

1 comment:

Kristen said...

Yum! you're so nifty.