One of my favorite things about holidays are the traditions that we build with the ones we love. It’s so much fun to pull out holiday decor or heirloom dinnerware or Christmas ornaments and share the memories we all have surrounding them. Recipes and special dishes are great traditions, too. Most of my family can pretty reliably predict what dishes will be served for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner. Pumpkin pie is always on the menu, which is sort of amusing. We don’t have anyone who hates it, but no one would say it’s their favorite, either. — lol — It’s just what’s done. At the holidays, there MUST be pumpkin pie, right?
Last week, I was having a great time trying out more products from King Arthur Flour and looking for a new dessert to use with pumpkin. I was totally diverted from the pumpkin search when I glanced up at the TV and heard Alton Brown say something about why would you go to all the work of scooping out and baking down a whole pumpkin to get enough pumpkin to make a fresh pie. (He is adamantly opposed to canned, which means he would shudder at my freezer-case-to-oven pumpkin pies, each year. 🙂 ) What he suggested, though, caught my attention. He was singing the praises of sweet potato pie, which I have never eaten, and then extolling the simplicity of making one. I was suddenly intent on the idea of making sweet potato pie, myself, and seeing if it would become a family favorite.
I also got to use King Arthur Flour’s Vietnamese Cinnamon and the Bake and Give Mini Round Pans with Lids to create beautifully delicious individual pies! They were absolutely adorable. What an awesome gift they would make. I ended up making nine mini-pies and one full-sized pie from this recipe. I used refrigerated pie crust dough (3 crusts) and baked the full-sized pie in my new Raspberry Colorwave Pie Plate from Noritake.
You know of course, my next step was to start googling sweet potato pie recipes, reading the reviews and studying what ingredients were common to all of them and what were the personal “flairs” that others added to their basic recipes. Who knew so many people loved sweet potato pie? I missed the point when they became “mainstream”, I guess, but we won’t be making that mistake again. My husband declared that sweet potato pie is indeed, so much better than pumpkin. That might have something to do with the fact that I also topped it with something he has never seen in my kitchen in all our 27 years — freshly-made whipped cream. (I’ve really started something, now. No more Cool Whip, for our family.) Anyway, I’m anxious to share this recipe and hopefully, it can become a favorite tradition in your home, too.
My camera battery died at the point of filling the crusts on these delectable desserts, but I threw it on the charger, and it was ready to go by the time the pies were baked, so I could get “finished” pictures for you. I won’t have any pictures of me actually filling the shells, but believe me, you can handle it. And you’ll be glad you did!
Sweet Potato Pie
Yield: 2 – 9″ pies or 18 mini pies
- 2 lbs of sweet potatoes (two large)
- 1 cup butter (2 sticks)
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 cup milk
- 4 eggs
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 Tablespoon Vietnamese Cinnamon from King Arthur
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 3 pie crusts
Put two pounds of whole sweet potatoes in a pot to boil. Leaving them whole will make them simple to peel, later. Expect it to take 30-45 minutes to fully cook them.
While the sweet potatoes boil, prepare your favorite pastry or pie crust recipe. Mine are from the refrigerator case at Wal-Mart 🙂 , so before I did anything, I laid them out on the kitchen counter to come to room temperature and become easier to work with.
When you can stick a fork to the center of your sweet potatoes and they are tender, all the way through, take them off the heat, drain off the hot water and cover them with ice water or at least very, very cold water. This will stop the cooking process and also shrink the potato pulp away from the skin, making them extraordinarily easy to peel. When they are cool enough to handle, remove the skins.
Put the sweet potato pulp and butter into your mixing bowl and blend until smooth.
Add the eggs, sugar, milk, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg. Mix the ingredients together and set the filling aside while you prepare the crusts.
I used the Bake and Give Mini Round Pans from King Arthur as a template to cut nine mini crusts. I reserved the pie crust scraps to make decorations for the top of the pie.
Press your crusts into the pie plates. I used 9 Mini Round Pans and then I made one large pie in the beautiful Raspberry Colorwave Pie Plate from Noritake. As you know, this is where my camera battery died, so I can’t show you the unfilled shells or me filling them. If you use the Mini Round Bakers, be sure to set them on a sturdy baking sheet before filling them. I poured the filling into the crusts, filling them to within 1/4 inch of the top. As the custard bakes, it will puff up, like a souffle, but don’t panic. It settles right back down as it cools.
Bake the mini pies 25-30 minutes in a 350° oven. The full-sized pie will need 55 – 60 minutes at the same temperature. Pie should be set in the middle. A knife inserted in the center will come out clean when it’s done.
While the pies were baking, I rolled out the reserved scraps of pie crust and cut out tiny maple leaf shapes. I mixed a little cinnamon and sugar and sprinkled the mixture over the leaves. I placed two maple leaves on top of each mini pie during the last five minutes of baking. I increased the oven temperature to 425° for that last five minutes.
Cool and serve with fresh whipped cream! YUM!!!
Homemade Whipped Cream
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
Whip all three ingredients together with your electric mixer. Whip until it forms soft, delicious peaks. Don’t over beat it or you will end up with sweet butter. That’s never good on pie. 🙂
This pie smelled so heavenly, we couldn’t wait for it to completely cool before plopping a big spoonful of fresh whipped cream right in the center. It instantly started to melt, which did NOT affect the fantastic flavor of this delightful dessert. I hope you’ll consider it for your own homemade holiday and enjoy it as much as we did!