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 to make Dad’s perfect Sweet Potato Pie:
• 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 making these sweet potato pie even more flavorful!
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 sweet potato 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 sweet potato 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.Print
For the Crust:
- 1/2 cup (4 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
- 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup cold buttermilk
For the Filling:
- 2 cups mashed cooked sweet potatoes, from 2 medium sweet potatoes
- 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
- 1 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup (2 ounces) unsalted butter
- 1 1/4 cup (10 ounces) evaporated milk, divided
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
For the Praline Topping:
- 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
- 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
- 3 tablespoons heavy cream
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup very coarsely chopped pecans (some halved pecan pieces are fine)
For the Meringue Topping:
- 4 large egg whites, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1/2 cup sugar
- To make the pie crust, in a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, and salt. Add cold, cubed butter and, using your fingers (or a potato masher), work the butter into the flour mixture. Quickly break the butter down into the flour mixture, some butter pieces will be the size of oat flakes, some will be the size of peas. Create a well in the mixture and pour in the cold buttermilk. Use a fork to bring to dough together. Try to moisten all of the flour bits. Add a bit more buttermilk if necessary, but you want to mixture to be shaggy and not outwardly wet.
- On a lightly floured work surface, dump out the dough mixture. It will be moist and shaggy. That’s perfect. Gently knead into a disk. Wrap the disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour. Allowing the dough to rest in the refrigerator will help rechill the butter and distribute the moisture.
- To roll out the pie crust, on a well floured surface, roll the crust 1/8 inch thick and about 12 inches in diameter. Transfer it to a pie pan. Trim the edge almost even with the edge of the pan Fold the edges under and crimp with your fingers or a fork. Cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for a minimum of 30 minutes and a maximum of 3 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Place a rack in the upper third of the oven.
- To make the filling, first peel the sweet potatoes. Dice the sweet potatoes into large, 3-inch chunks. Place potato pieces in a large pot and cover with cool water. Place over medium high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until the potatoes are tender throughout, about 20 minutes. Test the doneness of the potatoes using a thin knife. If the knife meets any resistance, simmer the potatoes a bit longer.
- Drain into a colander.
- In the same large pot place cooked potato pieces, the packed brown sugar, all of the spices, salt, butter, and half of the evaporated milk. Cook on low flame, using a potato masher to mash the potatoes and they cook. Simmer for about 5 minutes. Make sure that the mixture is as smooth as possible. I used an immersion blender to completely smooth the mixture. Once mixture is smooth and fragrant, remove from fire and let cool in pot.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the remaining evaporated milk, granulated sugar, eggs, and vanilla extract. Whisk well. Pour the egg mixture into the warm sweet potato mixture.
- Pour the prepared filling into the pie crust. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes at 375 degrees F. Reduce the heat to 325 degrees F and cook until cooked through, about 45 to 50 minutes.
- To test the pie for doneness lightly shake the baking sheet. If the center of the pie has a wavy jiggle it needs more time in the oven. If the center of the pie has a lighter, more structured jiggle, it’s done!
- To make the PRALINE topping: In a medium saucepan set over medium-low heat, combine brown sugar, butter, cream, and salt. Bring to a simmer and cook until thick and bubbly, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla and pecans. Allow to cool for 30 minutes before pouring on the pie. (If you make the topping ahead of time, reheat it over low heat until just pourable). Allow the pie praline topping to cool to room room temperature before serving. (Pie can also be refrigerated before serving- just leave it out on the counter for about an hour before serving.)
- To make the MERINGUE topping: Allow egg whites to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. In a large mixing bowl combine egg whites, vanilla, and cream of tartar. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed about 3 minute or until soft peaks form.
- Gradually add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating on high speed about 5 minutes or until mixture forms stiff, glossy peaks and sugar dissolves (rub a small amount between two fingers; it should feel completely smooth).
- Pipe the meringue over the baked pie (it’s ok if the pie is a bit warm), return to the oven (at 350 degrees F) and allow to bake for 10 minutes. Toast under the broiler, keeping a close eye and rotating the pie several times for an even toast, until browned all over. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before serving.
- Pie will last up to 5 days, wrapped in the refrigerator.