I’m not sure if it was naïveté, wishful thinking, or just plain delirium that gave me the idea that I could brave the ravenous pre-T-day crowds at the supermarket, overhaul the apartment with a good cleaning, wait out the Macy’s day parade from 6 am, cook a scratch Thanksgiving feast and have time to blog about it before the turkey hit the table, but my lofty delusions came to a screeching halt last week. I know it’s belated, but here is a peek at the making of the lovely pies I promised to send your way.
Pumpkin pie may only have its place at a Thanksgiving table, but this silky smooth sweet potato pie with its toasted marshmallow meringue topping brings about a nostalgia for campfires and smore-making that I think can wiggle its way into other parts of the year (still have leftover mashed sweets?). This recipe had been burning a hole in my back pocket for the better part of two years and I used the opportunity while visiting my sister last weekend to bake its debut. It was fun cooking in her kitchen with all the fancy cooking gadgets she received for her wedding last year and her beautiful KitchenAid mixer which whipped up the egg whites in a flash. Plus, she receives such lovely light to her kitchen windowsill, a pretty luxury after being subjected to the stingy, insipid glow that barely makes its way to my sun-starved sills at home.
This sweet potoato filling would be a cinch to make in the food processor, though I just used a standard potato masher. A squeeze of lemon and a dousing of spices makes the filling just right, keeping it from being too cloying or bland. The sticky marshmallow cream does take a little cohersion to come together with the delicate whipped egg whites, but when I saw and smelled that toasty, swirly crust, it was worth the extra effort. It would make such a pretty centerpiece at a holiday table what with it’s puffy cloud of meringue and sunset orange center.*
My one confession, although I’m sure you’ve already spied my secret, is that I used a store-bought graham cracker crust. My sister does not own a pie dish (hmm, Christmas present?), but I made up for my cheating with a homemade pecan-studded crust for my pecan pie and gingersnap tart dought that I made for my classic pumpkin custard. And by classic, I mean I took the recipe off the side of the condensed milk can, which has probably been there since pearls and beehives ruled the kitchen. I spruced up this tasty standby with a spicy gingersnap crust that I molded to a tart pan to make–voilà!–pumpkin tart.
And then because I can’t have a holiday, or a day, really, without chocolate, I made a chocolate bourbon pecan pie. Which really is just as heavenly as it sounds. Chocolate. Bourbon. Pecans. All melted and married together in one amazing pie. I never really liked pecan pie before working at a Cajun/Creole byob while in college. It was one of our signature desserts and I snuck a piece on break one day to see what all the fuss was about. Well, one bite of that pie, with its buttery crust, rich syrupy filling and toasty pecans and I was hooked. I know you’re supposed to serve pecan pie at room temperature and not stone cold, but I love to eat mine chilled. When its cold, the flaky crust shatters like phyllo dough in your mouth and the filling is like sticky toffee candy, a nightmare for any dentist, but a dream for me. Once in awhile, the pastry chef at the restaurant would thrown in some chocolate chips for a little intrigue and I quickly searched high and low for a copycat recipe. That’s when I stumbled upon this one from Tyler Florence. It’s infinitely better even than the one we served, spiked with a slosh of bourbon and with chocolate swirled throughout. This winner has graced my table before and I’m sure it will be making an appearance at Christmastime, as well.
Well that about wraps it up for the pies. Now that the Christmas season has officially started, I’ll be off and running with cookie baking. Stay tuned…
*Unfortunately, the sweet potatoes I chose did not have the warm orange hue as seen in the picture from Bon Appetit magazine. Although there was no reduction in sweet potato flavor, I’ll definitely be on the lookout for darker sweets when I make this again, if only for presentation.