Sweet Potato Pie with Maple Meringue

Sweet Potato Meringue Pie

Sweet Potato Meringue Pie begins with one of my favorite types of crust… the press in crust. I’ll be honest, making and rolling out traditional pie dough IMG_7999induces anxiety and nightmares of ruined desserts; so logically, I try to avoid them when I can. This crust is the result of toasted pecans, graham crackers, fresh ginger, dark brown sugar, cinnamon, a pinch of salt and melted butter taking a spin in a food processor before being pressed into a pie plate. After baking in the oven for 25 minutes you’ve got yourself a delicious pie crust without any tears, curses, or tell tale signs of patchwork.

The filling is very similar to pumpkin pie, but made with roasted sweet potatoes, along with eggs, cream, brown sugar, and a splash of bourbon to round everything out. After baking in the oven, then cooling, the pie could very easily (and tastily) be served with a dollop of whipped cream. However, I highly recommend you spend an extra 10 minutes to push this pie over the top. Blanket it with a heaping cloud of maple syrup meringue and pop it under the broiler for mere seconds to achieve a golden blush. Your family and friends will thank you. You will thank you.

Another plus for this recipe, especially when entertaining, is that it can be broken down into tasks over the course of a couple of days. For example, on day 1 make the crust, roast the sweet potatoes and puree the flesh. Cover tightly and refrigerate. On day 2, prepare the filling and bake. Allow the pie to cool, then whip up the meringue, top the pie and brown. The pie can be served immediately, or covered and tucked in the fridge overnight before making its big debut on your table.

IMG_8062There are a number of ways you could have fun with this recipe if you’re up for experimenting. Simply swap:

walnuts for pecans
rum for bourbon
pumpkin for sweet potato
gluten free graham crackers for regular graham crackers

The original meringue recipe from Food & Wine calls for quite a bit of simple syrup and tastes cloyingly sweet to me, without doing much to enhance the seasonal tastes of the pie. Instead of simple syrup, I use maple syrup (less than half the amount of syrup called for in the original) to make the meringue which pairs beautifully with the fall flavors of the sweet potatoes, cinnamon, and ginger. I also reduce the amount of sugar in the crust, as the graham crackers already have plenty of sugar in them.

Sweet Potato Meringue Pie and Apple Cream Pie will be on our dessert table this Thanksgiving and possibly even Christmas… what will be on yours?

Sweet Potato Pie with Maple Meringue

Sweet Potato Meringue Pie

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Print

*adapted from a recipe Chef Andrew Carmellini contributed to Food & Wine

Ingredients:
For the crust:
1 cup (4 ounces) pecan halves
11 whole graham crackers, broken (gluten free, if needed)
4 teaspoons minced ginger
1 Tablespoons dark brown sugar
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For the filling:
32 ounces of sweet potatoes (about 3 large sweet potatoes)
½ cup dark brown sugar
3 large eggs
2 Tablespoons bourbon
½ cup heavy cream

For the meringue:
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
3 large egg whites
pinch of salt

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 325°F. In a pie plate, toast the pecans for about 10 minutes or until fragrant and browned. Let the nuts cool completely.

In a food processor, combine the pecans, graham crackers, ginger, brown sugar, salt, and cinnamon; pulse until crumbs form. Add melted butter and process until incorporated. Press the crumbs evenly into a 9-inch deep dish pie plate. Bake the crust for 25 minutes, or until lightly browned and fragrant. Set aside to cool. Keep the oven on.

Prick sweet potatoes all over with a fork and cook in a microwave oven for 10 minutes. Transfer the potatoes to the 325°F oven and roast for 10 minutes longer, or until soft. Let cool, then scrape out the flesh; you should have about 2¼ cups.

Transfer the sweet potato to the food processor and puree until smooth. Add the brown sugar, eggs, and bourbon and process until blended. Add the heavy cream and process until incorporated. Pour the filling into the crust and bake for 50 minutes, or until set; cover the crust edges with foil if they darken. Let the pie cool completely.

In a small saucepan, bring maple syrup to a boil. Cook over high heat until a candy thermometer inserted in the syrup registers 240°F, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk, beat the egg whites with the salt until soft peaks form. With the machine running, carefully and slowly drizzle in the hot syrup and beat at high speed until the whites are stiff, glossy, and warm to the touch, about 3 minutes.

Preheat the broiler. Mound the meringue over the sweet potato filling, swirling it decoratively. Broil the pie 4-6 inches from the heat for 30 seconds, or until lightly browned- do NOT look away(!), it can burn very quickly.

Cut into wedges and enjoy!

*Pie can be made a day ahead and refrigerated overnight.

Pie crust ingredients ready to go into the food processor: pecans, graham crackers, ginger, sugar, cinnamon, salt, and melted butter.
In a food processor, combine pecans, graham crackers, ginger, sugar, cinnamon, salt, and melted butter.
Pecan and graham cracker crust
Press processed ingredients into deep dish pie plate. Bake at 325°F for 25 minutes.
Pecan and Graham Cracker Crust
Let the pie crust cool while you make the filling.
Roasted sweet potatoes cooling.
Microwave the sweet potatoes for 10 minutes, then finish roasting in the oven for an additional 10 minutes, or until soft. Allow to rest until cool enough to handle, then scoop out flesh and puree in the food processor. You should have 2 1/4 cups puree.
Sweet potato puree, brown sugar, eggs, bourbon, and heavy cream on cutting board.
Sweet potato puree, brown sugar, eggs, bourbon, and heavy cream are ready to combine in the processor.
Sweet potato pie filling in the processor
The sweet potato pie filling is ready to go into the pie crust.
Unbaked sweet potato pie
Bake at 325°F for 50 minutes or until set.
Baked sweet potato pie is cooling.
Filling is set and pie is cooling.
Maple syrup in saucepan.
Let’s make the meringue! Boil maple syrup until thermometer reads 240°F.
Soft peak egg whites on whisk.
At medium speed, beat the egg whites and salt to soft peak stage.
Pouring hot syrup into beaten egg whites.
With mixer going at high speed, pour the syrup in a slow steady stream.
Stiff peak egg whites on whisk
Continue beating egg white/syrup mixture until eggs are glossy and stiff peaks form, about 2-3 minutes.
Mound of maple syrup meringue in center of pie.
Mound maple syrup meringue in center of the pie and swirl decoratively.
Sweet Potato Meringue Pie
Place pie under broiler for 30 seconds or until lightly brown. Do NOT walk away from oven… it will quickly go from brown to burned. Watch it carefully!
Sweet Potato Meringue Pie
Sweet Potato Meringue Pie with Pecan Graham Cracker Crust

Pumpkin Pancakes

Pumpkin pancakes served with warm maple syrup and toasted walnuts.

Pumpkin PancakeI was going to post about Pumpkin Bread, and tie it together with the Roasted Pumpkin Puree (and I will) but I was seriously sidetracked by some Pumpkin Pancakes. And it was all quite by chance.

My husband is a wonderful cook. Weekend mornings he can be found whipping up the fluffiest pancakes; his chicken parmigiana is unbelievable and he can smoke a Boston butt or deep fry a turkey with the best of them.

This weekend the kids requested pancakes. While dear husband gathered the ingredients, I made the coffee. As I poked my head in the fridge for some half and half, my eyes landed on the last of the pumpkin purée. Eureka moment. “Hey, why don’t you throw this pumpkin in the batter?” Silence. Dead silence. I could hear crickets. Not one to give up I asked, “What do you think?” Long long pause. (Translation- don’t mess with my pancakes.) Finally a reply, “Let’s leave it up to B. Whatever she thinks.” I have to admit, at this point the deal was sealed because I knew exactly what B would say, “Pumpkin pancakes? Yum!”

The regular weekend pancakes were already top notch, but the addition of pumpkin, cider, and the classic spice combination of cinnamon, ginger, allspice, and cloves turned already stellar pancakes into something very special for fall and winter breakfasts (and dinners!).  Gently warmed maple syrup with butter added a touch of sweetness, while the toasted walnuts sprinkled on top provided a satisfying crunch to contrast with the fluffiness of the pancakes.

Needless to say, pumpkin pancakes have been officially added to the rotation at White House Red Door.

Have you ever had that moment of spontaneity in the kitchen? A eureka moment that led to something delicious?

Pumpkin Pancakes with Maple Syrup and Toasted Walnuts

Pumpkin Pancakes

  • Servings: 15-20 pancakes
  • Print

Ingredients:
2 cups all purpose flour
3 Tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon allspice
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
3 eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup apple cider
1 cup pumpkin purée
¾ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For serving:
warm maple syrup with butter
toasted walnuts or pecans

Instructions:
Preheat griddle to 350°-375°.

Mix dry ingredients. In a separate container, whisk eggs, then add vanilla, cider, and milk stirring well.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry and whisk until just combined.

Stir in pumpkin, then add melted butter.

When griddle is ready, spoon 1/3 cup batter onto the griddle for each pancake. Cook until the top of each pancake is dotted with bubbles and some have popped open. Carefully flip and cook until the other side is golden brown. Serve immediately with maple syrup and toasted walnuts. Though best enjoyed right away, the pancakes can also be kept warm in a 200° oven until ready to serve.

Pumpkin pancakes dry ingredients whisked together.
Whisk the dry ingredients together.
3 eggs ready for whisking.
Whisk the eggs together.
Whisking vanilla into eggs.
Whisk vanilla into eggs.
Whisk cider and milk into egg/vanilla mixture.
Whisk cider and milk into egg/vanilla mixture.
Pumpkin Pancakes- gently combine liquid and dry ingredients
Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and gently combine.
Stir the pumpkin purée into the batter.
Stir the pumpkin purée to the batter.
Stir melted butter into the batter.
Stir melted butter into the batter.
Pancakes on the griddle are dotted with popped and unpopped bubbles.
When the tops of the pancakes are dotted with popped and unpopped bubbles, it is time to flip.

Flipped pancakes on the griddle.

Pumpkin pancakes served with warm maple syrup and toasted walnuts.
Serve with warm maple syrup and toasted walnuts.