Here in the North East, pumpkin pie is the customary Thanksgiving final course. But on the other side of the Mason-Dixon line, sweet potato pies are the traditional harvest dessert. There’s nothing quite like a made-from-scratch pie, but unlike trying to wrangle an unwieldy pumpkin, sweet potatoes are amiable and easy to handle. Fresh pumpkins can vary pretty wildly in terms of their sugar content and texture, but sweet potatoes (which, like pumpkins, are totally in season right now) will consistently yield smooth, creamy sweetness (perhaps thanks in part to their starch content). A sweet potato pie is truly a kissin’ cousin to a pumpkin pie with it’s earthy richness, caramel-y flavors, and familiar underpinnings of warm spices. So if a sweet potato pie satisfies all the pre-requisites of a Thanksgiving dessert, why not ditch the canned pumpkin and go for a fully fresh, wholly home-made, authentically autumnal treat? Just don’t let your Yankee Uncle know.
Sweet Potato Ginger Custard Pie
Makes one 9 inch pie
For the pie crust:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 to 5 tablespoons ice water
For the filling:
1 cup cooked sweet potato
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup milk
2/3 cup light brown sugar
2 tablespoons brandy
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon salt
1. To make the crust, in a food processor, briefly pulse together the flour and salt. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture forms lima bean-size pieces (three to five 1-second pulses). Ad ice water 1 tablespoon at a time, and pulse until the mixture is just moist enough to hold together. Form the dough into a ball, wrap with plastic and flatten into a disc. Refrigerate at least 1 hour before rolling out.
2. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the piecrust to a 12-inch circle. Transfer the crust to a 9-inch pie plate. Fold over any excess dough, then crimp as decoratively as you can manage.
3. Prick the crust all over with a fork. Freeze the crust for 15 minutes or refrigerate for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Cover the pie with aluminum foil and fill with pie weights (you can us pennies, rice, or dried beans for this; I use pennies). Bake for 20 minutes; remove the foil and weights and bake until golden, about 5 to 10 minutes more. Cool on a rack until needed.
4. To make the filling, cut a slit into one large sweet potato and wrap tightly in foil. Bake at 400°F until sweet potato is very soft, about an hour. Let cool.
5. Scoop 1 cup of cooked sweet potato into food processor, discarding skin. Reduce oven temperature to 325°F. Add all remaining filling ingredients to food processor and puree until smooth.
6. Spoon filling into pie crust and spread until flat and even. Place pie on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until the custard is mostly firm and set but jiggles slightly when moved, 45 to 55 minutes. Let cool to room temperature and serve with fresh whipped cream.
Cocktails, Appetizers, Salads and Breads:
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Epicurious: Chestnut and Sherry Soup
Yahoo! Shine: Spicy Caramelized Onion Jam With Goat Cheese
YumSugar: Kale and Chard Salad with Pomegranates and Hazelnuts
Whole Foods Market: Mixed Green Salad With Pears, Hazelnuts, Blue Cheese and Homemade Croutons
Food Republic: Cavatappi With Fontina and Fall Vegetables
Healthy Eats: Green Bean Casserole With Crispy Shallots
Saveur: Green Beans and Tomatoes
Diner's Journal: Fiery Sweet Potatoes
Real Simple: Brown Sugar-Glazed Carrots With Rosemary and Pecans
The Daily Meal: Bacon Brussels Sprouts
AP/ J.M. Hirsch: Ginger-Pear Cranberry Sauce
Food52: Mashed Potatoes with Caramelized Onions and Goat Cheese
Food.com: Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes
Food & Wine: Michael Symon's Swiss Chard and Leek Gratin
All You: Sweet Potato Bake
Fox News: Ginger Molasses Sugar Cookies