Tuesday, December 7, 2010

High-Five "Pumpkin" Pie

I'm going to get some blank stares for the name of this pie because it's not pumpkin. But I can guarantee that you can use pumpkin to the same end, or you can fool people by telling them it is pumpkin. The story is that I was asked to make a pumpkin pie for someone for their birthday. The problem was that I was asked about a month in advance, and in the course of that month "pumpkin" translated into "sweet potato." The birthday crept up on me, and to my horror I learned that I had my facts wrong, and there was not a stray can of pumpkin in the house.

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
2 eggs
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.


Anonymous said...

I love the concept of fooling someone with sweet potato pie.
I have some friends from up here in teh PNW who just visited GA and SC last week; they had sweet potato pie in Plains, GA and loved that the locals told them "it's so tasty, it'll make you wanna slap your mama!"
Sadly, it was made with quite possibly the horror to even top that horror: sweetened condensed milk. I'm pretty sure that stuff is a form of euthenasia in a can.
Love, Camille

Jason said...

I'm looking forward to your use of the sweety potato in my recipe suggestion...if you haven't forgotten:)

meg said...

I'll make one of these for Christmas Eve at Grandma Overby's--it was amazing. The brulee topping was outstanding.