Sweet Potato Pie with Pecan Crumb Topping
Sweet potato pie is a classic American dessert that is not overly sweet. The texture is similar to a pumpkin pie, but firmer. I jazzed mine up with a little anise extract, other flavorings and a crown of pecan crumb topping. It's a great pie for Thanksgiving, but really, you can enjoy it any time of the year.
I made this for a reader named Bill who e-mailed me a request for a sweet potato pie recipe. If you're reading Bill, I hope you like it!
Yields: 14 mini pies6-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon extract
3 tablespoons powdered sugar
4-1/4 sticks unsalted butter, 34 tablespoons
2 teaspoons canola oil
3-1/3 cups candied sweet potatoes
1-1/2 cup evaporated milk
2 egg whites
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/2 cup condensed milk
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger (or candied ginger)
1/4 teaspoon butter pecan extract (optional)
1/4 teaspoon anise extract
1-1/2 cups pecans, finely chopped
For the pie crust:
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Grease 14 4-inch diameter individual non-stick pie molds (or 2 9-inch diameter pie pans)with a thin layer of butter.
In a bowl, combine 6-1/4 cups of flour and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. In another bowl, place the powdered sugar. Sift all the dry ingredients separately.
Make sure the butter is chilled. Dice 3-3/4 sticks of butter (30 tablespoons).
Using a handheld mixer, whisk 2 egg yolks with 3 tablespoons of powdered sugar until you get a pale, yellow foam. It'll take about 5-6 minutes. The consistency should be very airy. Add 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon extract. Stir well using a spatula. Set aside.
Lightly oil the bowl of your food processor with a silicone brush. Add the flour, salt and cold diced butter. Blend for a few seconds. Pulse the mixture until it forms sandy crumbs of butter and flour. Add the egg yolk mixture and 1 to 1-1/2 tablespoons of evaporated milk. Pulse another 3-4 times until it forms a dough. Do NOT over-mix. Transfer the pie dough into a bowl. Allow to chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
Once chilled, transfer the dough onto a pastry board lined with a sheet of parchment paper. Place another sheet of parchment paper on top of the dough like a sandwich. Using a rolling pin, even out the dough to about 1/2 inch thick. Create 14 (5-inch) disks of dough. Top each mold with the disks of dough. Press the dough well into the edges of the mold (I use the tip of a chopstick). Prick the dough with a fork. Line the dough with small (about 2-1/2-inch) squares of parchment paper and top with ceramic pie weights (or dried beans).
Place the pie shells on a baking sheet and bake for about 12-14 minutes. Allow to cool to room temperature. Remove the pie weights and discard the pieces of parchment paper. Set aside.
For the sweet potato filling:
Separate the egg yolks from the whites. Place the 6 egg whites in a stainless steel mixing bowl.
Using an electric mixer, whisk the 2 egg yolks with granulated sugar until you get a pale, yellow foam. Add the condensed milk, anise extract, butter pecan extract (if used), ground ginger and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon extract.
In a clean food processor, smooth the candied sweet potatoes (click on the link for the recipe) with 2/3 cup of evaporated milk.
Pour the sweet potatoes in a saucepan. Cook over low heat (simmer) for about 8 minutes, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thickened. Add the 1/3 cup of brown sugar. Mix well. Turn off the heat. Add 2 tablespoons of butter. Stir well until melted. Add about 2 tablespoons of the sweet potatoes to the egg yolk mixture to ensure the eggs don't curdle. Slowly stir using a wooden spoon and add the rest of the sweet potatoes.
Add 1/8 teaspoon of salt to the egg whites. Beat them for about 2 minutes at a medium speed. Increase to the maximum speed and keep beating for another 2-3 minutes until the whites are stiff. Do not over-whisk or the texture will become grainy.
Pour 1/3 of the egg white mixture into the sweet potato mixture and gently stir everything to soften the batter. Pour the rest of the egg whites and, using a spatula, gently fold the egg whites into the sweet potatoes to get an airy batter.
Fill the pie shells with the sweet potato filling. Place the pie shells on a baking sheet and bake at 400°F for about 15 minutes.
For the pecan crumb topping:
Make the pecan crumb topping while the sweet potato pies are baking. Using a pastry blender or the back of fork, combine the remaining 1/3 cup of brown sugar, remaining 1/2 cup of flour, 1/8 teaspoon of salt, remaining 2 tablespoons of cold diced butter and chopped pecans until it forms crumbs of butter, pecans and flour. Add the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon extract. Do NOT over-mix. Set aside.
Remove the pies from the oven. Decorate them with the pecan crumb topping. Bake for another 25-30 minutes at 350°F.
Serve the pecan pie warm with molasses and butter pecan whipped cream or a scoop of ice cream.
Enjoy with a pumpkin spice latte.
I found butter and pecan extract at my local market but you can also find it online or replace it with vanilla extract or any other flavorings you like, such as cinnamon, maple, amaretto, brandy or even cognac.
I use McCormick anise extract. If you don't have any, you can use star anise seeds. Dry roast them and grind them finely in a mortar and pestle. Same substitute works well for the cinnamon flavor if you don't have cinnamon extract.
You can use any sugar pie shells; I like the addition of cinnamon extract to the dough, which complements the sweet potato filling very well. You can make it in advance and store it in the refrigerator overnight. The dough will be easier to roll and won't be crumbly.
Published By: on December 2, 2009.
I tried several ways to spread the pecan crumb topping but I think the best way to is create a ring around the outer edge of the pie, so it leaves a perfect spot for the whipped cream or ice cream in the center.