But I had some home-grown sweet potatoes about as big as my arm and a new recipe to try, and I convinced myself that I could make sweet potato taste like pumpkin--I am, after all, a kitchen witch. Baking is the art of tastebud deception: you take flour, butter, and sugar with some odds and ends and turn it into CAKE or COOKIE or what have you. I made the pie, and not only did I fool the birthday boy, he gave me a high-five for "the best pumpkin pie ever." Apparently he is a pumpkin pie connoisseur and so fooling him felt really good.
This pie has a dirty secret. Something, in fact, that I usually call "baking heresy," but it gives the pie a je ne sais quoi that wouldn't be there otherwise, so I suggest leaving it in. I'm sure you could substitute it with some organic, vegan frippery, but that's your call. I say it's worth it.
High Five Pumpkin Pie
2 cups mashed sweet potatoes
1 cup sugar divided into 3/4 cup for the pie itself and 1/4 cup for the topping
1 stick butter, melted
1 cup whole milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 small package instant vanilla pudding
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon allspice
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Blend all ingredients thoroughly (I used a handheld mixer), reserving the 1/4 cup sugar. Pour into a 9" pie shell. Bake 45-50 minutes, or until pie is set. Cover the edges of the pie crust with foil, and sprinkle the 1/4 cup sugar on top of the pie. Broil in the oven for about 7-9 minutes, keeping the oven door open and turning the pie often to keep some spots from burning while others aren't brown at all. This part takes a little vigilance (unless you have a propane torch, in which case, light 'er up), but it's not difficult, and it's worth it. You want the top of the pie to be dark brown--like a creme brulee.