With the delightful holiday, Thanksgiving, right around the corner, I wanted to try to make something I had never tried before. Yes, I was feeling daring. I had always stayed clear of sweet potato pie, because I thought I always favored pumpkin. And why mess with success, right?
But then something happened, as I guess it usually does, that changed my dessert-eating life. That may sound like an exaggeration, but it all started when my brother brought home a sweet potato pie from Charleston, South Carolina. He had balanced it lovingly on his lap for the entire plane ride, then setting it down on the table, announced we had to try the most amazing pie from the south. My appetite and interest were piqued.
That pie was something of legends. It was light and airy with almost a whipped quality. It had a double crust. And the crust on top was light and flaky. I have to tell you, reader, my heart swooned. And from that moment on, I have had a very deep-seated love for sweet potato pie.
Now I have scoured the Internet and delved into cookbooks with the small hope of finding a recipe that might even slightly mimic what I tasted on that delightful Thanksgiving night. All to no avail. Apparently, the south keeps that sweet potato pie recipe well hidden. But what I did find were some amazing recipes that are nice substitutions.
Sweet potato pie is so amazingly complex. If you have never tried it, I beg you to give it a chance. Perhaps using a vegetable as the foundation for a dessert scares you. But sweet potatoes lend themselves so easily to either savory or sweet.
This recipe uses coconut milk, and the result is a very light and custardy filling — not overly dense and unappealing. You do have to be careful not to over mix the potatoes when you add them to the custard mixture. Mix too much, and they get sticky and heavy. And your resulting pie will not be the dessert you were dreaming of.
So this Thanksgiving as you’re sitting around the table, bellies full and belt buckle unfastened, try this little addition to the dessert table. I think it will have your guests begging for more.
Coconut Sweet Potato Pie
adapted from The Minimalist, NY Times
2 medium sweet potatoes
1 1/3 cups graham cracker crumbs, made from one package graham crackers with 9 full cracker sheets
1/4 cup shredded and unsweetened coconut
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons ground ginger
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
8 tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
pinch ground cloves
large pinch salt
1 cup coconut milk
Heat oven to 450 degrees. Place sweet potatoes on baking sheet and roast for 40 min. to 1 hour; until soft. (Cooks tip: if you grease your potatoes with butter before placing them in the oven, they will turn out softer and richer. Just smear a tab of butter all over the skins of the sweet potato.) After removing the sweet potatoes from the oven, run them through a food mill. If you do not have one, mash them, but be careful not to over process them.
Turn the oven down to 350 degrees. Place the graham crackers in a food processor and pulse until they are finely ground. Add the shredded coconut, 2 tablespoons of the sugar and 1/4 teaspoon each of the ginger and cinnamon. Pulse once or twice. Then add the melted butter and pulse again. Press the mixture. into a 9 inch pie dish and bake for about 7 minutes. Remove.
Again in the food processor, combine eggs with the remaining sugar, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and salt. Pulse well until combined. Add the coconut milk and pulse again. Then add the sweet potatoes and pulse just until smooth. Again, making sure not to over process the potatoes.
Pour the sweet potato mixture into the crust and back until the pie is set on top but still quite moist, 40-45 minutes. Cool and serve warm or at room temperature. Some whipped cream on top of the pie is quite a delicious addition. Enjoy!
For more photos and recipe ideas, check out Corey’s blog, Intheorganickitchen.com. Visit weekly to see her latest organic obsession.