I made the season’s first Sweet Potato Pie this past weekend and got tears in my eyes. That’s a true fact. Some things just always taste the same and always taste right.
If you’ve been around this humble corner of the internet for long enough, you know that my Dad’s Sweet Potato Pie is near and dear to my heart – meaning that at least a third of my heart is actually made up of this pie. It’s our family recipe and a major part of our holiday traditions, but beyond that – it’s just a solid gold recipe. The flavors are completely correct.
Dad, ya nailed this one.
So many of you have made this recipe a part of your holiday traditions and that’s incredible. We’re connected and that’s really the point of everything, isn’t it?
The offering today is two light variations on my dad’s perfect pie. The pie is the same (save for the option of adding heaving cream) but here are two sweet and toasty topping options you might want to use to shake up the dessert table, with tradition in mind.
I hope you have a delicious and peaceful week in your travels, kitchen times, and table gathering. I’m really so thankful you’re here.
Here’s what you’ll need, friends:
• PIE CRUST! You can and should make it from scratch. I’m here for you. Here’s all the pep talk you need: How To Make Pie Crust By Hand.
• Sweet potatoes, peeled, quartered, and boiled to fork-tender.
• Butter for richness in crust, filling, and topping.
• Brown sugar, granulated sugar, vanilla extract. Baking classics.
• Evaporated milk – as my dad’s classic recipe calls for. I’ve since experimented with this a bit and found that heavy cream is also a welcome alternative. For a non-dairy option, I’ve added barista style almond milk with lots of happiness.
• Spices are important! We’ll use cinnamon, freshly grated nutmeg, and a very good dose of ground coriander.
• Pecans for praline or egg whites for a toasted meringue.
We’ll start by cooking our sweet potatoes.
Sweet potatoes are peeled to reveal a bright orange flesh. Cut the potato pieces in halves (if the potatoes are small) or quarters (if the potatoes are larger). Just see about cutting all of the pieces in relatively similar sizes so they cook to tender at the same time.
I like to boil the potatoes so they maintain their moisture.
The potatoes will boil for about 12 minutes, depending on their size. Drain well and mash while they’re still warm.
Stir the mashed sweet potatoes with the brown sugar, half of the milk or cream, butter, and spices.
Warming the mixture will dissolve the sugar and bloom the spices.
In a separate bowl, or giant measuring cup, whisk together granulated sugar, eggs, the remaining milk or cream, and vanilla extract.
Whisk the egg mixture into the sweet potato mixture.
Give it a big wiff. It should smell exactly like heaven. You’ll know.
Can you see the butter streaks in the rolled out crust. Look close. See? It’s worth the effort.
Pour the filling to just the edge and bake until the outside ring has puffed and the center has baked away its waterbed-style jiggle.
Praline topping comes together so simple! Once you know praline topping is this easy to make – well, it could be a problem.
Simmer sugar, butter, cream, and salt. Allow it to simmer, remove from the heat and add pecans and vanilla.
BOOM! Ya did it!
The praline topping will firm up as it cools. Let the praline topping rest for 20 to 30 minutes before pouring it on the mostly cooled pie. Allow the praline topping to settle and cool slightly before slicing into the pie.
Both the praline topping and the pie can be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator. Assemble the two just before serving. Bring the praline topping back to pourable by reheating it lightly on the stovetop.
If praline topping isn’t you thing, go for a simple meringue topping.
Egg whites are whipped to stiff with salt and cream of tartar. Sugar is added gradually while the eggs whirl around, adding structure and gloss to the whites.
A star tip and piping bag will make for some fancy swirls but you could also just as beautifully use a butterknife to create some meringue waves.
Return the pie with meringue to the oven to allow the meringue some time to cook. A quick ten minutes at 350 degrees F will do!
And a good strong toast under the broiler.
Don’t walk away. Now is no time to multi-task. Stand watch and rotate the pie to toast evenly.
It’s such a dream to me that you make my family holiday tradition part of yours!
I hope this pie graces your table and I hope these thoughts bring you some new inspiration!
Have a most lovely holiday! xo
Photos with my dear Jon Melendez.