Grand Marnier Spiked Sweet Potato Pie

17th November 2016

GRAND MARNIER SPIKED SWEET POTATO PIE + THUMMPRINTSSweet potato pie is a culinary delight that NEEDS to be experienced by more people. I can feel some of you out there getting bent out of shape about potatoes being in your pie … might I remind you that pumpkin is a squash and tastes like squash UNTIL someone does some spicy magic to it in the kitchen; much is the same for sweet potatoes.

If you want some history on the sweet potato pie please read this delicious article by Adrain Miller in the Washington Post – the article DOES a great job tracing the potatoes origins (Peru) through history to West Africa, Europe, England (Shakespearian shout-out included), and how sweet potatoes / sweet potato pie took root in this country and how it’s grown past its once regional origins to be a dessert loved and eaten by Americans all over the country.

We never had sweet potato pie when I was growing up. In fact, the only time I ever saw sweet potatoes was at Thanksgiving (maybe Christmas) when my mother dutifully roasted, mashed, and sugared sweet potatoes into her famous less-sweet than anyone else’s sweet potato casserole (topped with pecan streusel and NEVER marshmallows) that won hearts and tastebuds of everyone that tried it. There as no way anyone was going to try and make a pie to follow that act … until me, because: PIE.

Sweet potato pie is subtle and warm. It’s like getting wrapped in the best blanket hug you can imagine. Personally, I like it served at room temp (and because why not – a dab of vanilla ice cream) or, better yet slightly warmed in the oven. It’s a delicate pie in which the flavors meld and separate on your tongue; you can taste the nutmeg and the Grand Marnier individually, but at the same time you can only taste the pie as a whole. Sweet potato pie is MAGIC.

Do your Thanksgiving table a favor and make a (or two) sweet potato pie … leave the pumpkin at home this year and expand your culinary views and embrace Americana in all its forms. Or not, but that means MOAR PIE FOR ME.

Note: 700g of roasted sweet potatoes will take 3 large potatoes (trust me on this); you’ll probably have a bit leftover – but better more than less. Preheat your oven to 350F. Wash and dry your potatoes. Make sure to poke the potatoes with a fork (exploding potatoes is BAD). Line a cookie sheet with tin foil as the potatoes will ooze a bit as they roast and you don’t want to scrub that off a cookie sheet. Your potatoes will need to roast for at least an hour (I honestly don’t know how long mine took … I checked them every 10 minutes after the hour and took them out once I could squish them down and they felt soft). Once the potatoes have cooled enough to handle peel off the skin (I used my hands). As sweet potatoes can be stringy and lumpy I put them in a mixer with a paddle attachment and beat them on HIGH for 1-2 minutes until smooth. 

Grand Marnier Spiked Sweet Potato Pie

Ingredients:

700g sweet potatoes, roasted until tender, peeled, mashed, and whipped (see note)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
4 TBSP butter, softened
2 eggs
1 yolk (reserve the egg white)
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup evaporated milk
4 tsp Grand Marnier
1 tsp vanilla
1 unbaked pie shell ready to go in a pie pan (store bought or homemade)

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 425F.

Cream butter and sugars together. Add the roasted sweet potatoes and mix until completely combined.

Next add the two whole eggs and one yolk individually, mixing thoroughly between each addition. Add in the spices and salt, followed by the condensed milk and the evaporated milk (mix in slowly and completely).

Finally add in the vanilla and Grand Marnier. The pie mixture will look and smell almost exactly like pumpkin pie (maybe a touch thicker) at this point.

Pour (and scoop) sweet potato mixture into awaiting pie shell. (As you can see I decorated my pie with some simple leaves made out of extra pie dough. I brushed the reserved egg white over the leaves and the crimped pie edges to give them that nice golden brown color).

Bake for 15 minutes at 425F and then lower the temp to 350F and bake for an additional 30 – 40 minutes (the pie will rise in the center … mine baked for 35 minutes as was PERFECTION). Also note that after the initial 15 minutes I loosely covered the crust in tin foil so it wouldn’t over-brown (I simply take two lengths of tin foil and crimp them together to form a circle and place it over the pie crust – NOT the pie) or burn. I baked the leaves alongside the pie after the oven confirmed it was at 350F (10-15 minutes, keep you eye on them).

Once the pie as cooled you can decorate with leaves if you wish. If you’re eating the pie the day you make if don’t worry about refrigerating it, but as sweet potato pie is a custard based pie (like pumpkin) it should be stored in the fridge long term.

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Edna Mae’s Fresh Strawberry Pie

26th May 2016

EDNA MAE'S STRAWBERRY PIE + THUMMPRINTSOnce upon a time, when I was nothing more than a wee lass, I told my mother with all the seriousness I could muster that instead of a wedding cake I wanted pie. Lots and lots of pie. Not one large pie, but lots of normal sized pies accompanied by freezer after freezer full of homemade ice cream.

I think I was trying to latch on to the feeling of summers in the country where my days were filled with chasing lizards in the vegetable garden, fishing, trailing around behind my grandfather asking him to play basketball with me, swinging, and finally, once evening came sitting on the back porch listening to the cicadas sing and the owls hoot.

Home; pie reminds me of home. And not even my childhood home, but rather Edna Mae’s home tucked away between the fields and hills on the edge of the Ozarks. My grandmother’s house always smelled like love: green beans, pie crust, and love.

The key to this pie is fresh, local strawberries. The season for strawberries is normally not long, and it’s early (though this year it was a bit late but that’s because of ALL THE WINTER we had this year). Local strawberries are the small, sweet, ruby red jewels of any local farmer’s market. I highly recommend purchasing more than one quart at a time, because really – is there such a thing as too many strawberries?

Summer is about barbeques and grand outdoor adventures … and pie accompanied by freezer after freezer full of homemade ice cream.

* For those of you keeping score at home – yes this recipe looks familiar. I first published it almost four years ago. Why are you repeating yourself, you ask? Simple. I pulled up this recipe and proceeded to make the pie just as the recipe said to … only after did I realize I’d made an error with the Jello. So I edited the recipe to have more concise instructions. Happy pie making!

Edna Mae’s Fresh Strawberry Pie

Ingredients:

1 cup sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1 1/2 T white corn syrup
2 T + 1 tsp corn starch
1 cup water
1/2 a packet (from a 3oz box OR 2-1/4 TBSP) strawberry Jello (regular OR sugar free)
1 – 1.5 quart Strawberries
1 baked pie shell

Directions:

Mix sugar, salt, corn syrup, corn starch and water; boil until clear.

Remove from heat. Add Jello mix.

Let Jello mix cool until just above room temperature. Spread a thin layer of Jello mixture onto the cool pie shell and let stand (this acts as a barrier between the strawberries and the pie shell – keeping the pie shell from turning to mush).

Add 1 quart strawberries (which have been cleaned, well drained, and cooled in the fridge) and mix.

Carefully spoon Jello coated strawberries into pie shell, pouring any remaining Jello mixture over the top.

After the pie is completely cool, store in the refrigerator.

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