This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo
This is a Lee Bros, original, born of our boredom with conventional sweet potato pies, which we find often to be leaden and dull. (One notable exception is a sweet potato pie we ate at the home of the Texas sweet potato farmers Rona and Dale Smith, which had a fabulous crunchy Rice Krispies, brown sugar, and butter topping.) We wanted our pie to resemble the light, tangy buttermilk pie Robert Stehling of the Hominy Grill makes. So we whisked sweet potato puree into a filling we adapted from Stehling’s recipe for buttermilk pie, and the result was astonishing. Some have compared it to a cross between sweet potato pie and cheesecake, which rings true when you taste it. But we’d like to note that it doesn’t weigh on you the way cheesecake does. It’s ethereal, frothy, and divine, and it just may be our most crowd-pleasing dessert.
OccasionCasual Dinner Party, Family Get-together
Dietary Considerationpeanut free, soy free, tree nut free
Taste and Texturebuttery, creamy, light, spiced, sweet, tangy
- 1½ pounds sweet potatoes (about 2 medium potatoes), peeled and chopped into ½-inch dice
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 large eggs, separated
- ½ cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup whole or lowfat buttermilk (preferably whole)
- 1 Sweet Pie Crust , prebaked
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Pour 1½ inches of water into a 3-quart stockpot with a strainer basket and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the sweet potatoes, cover, and steam until fork-tender, about 20 minutes. Strain the sweet potatoes, place in a large bowl, and let cool to room temperature. Mash them to a smooth puree with a fork or a potato masher. You should have 1¼ cups puree; discard any excess. Add the butter, lemon juice, nutmeg, cinnamon, and salt, mixing thoroughly with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula after each addition.
In a small bowl, beat the egg yolks lightly with a whisk, about 30 seconds. Add the sugar and beat until they’re a creamy lemon-yellow color, about 1½ minutes. Add the egg mixture to the sweet potato mixture and stir with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula until the eggs are thoroughly incorporated and the filling is a consistent bright orange color. Add the flour a little at a time, stirring after each addition, until thoroughly incorporated. Add the buttermilk and stir to incorporate.
Wash the whisk in a stream of hot water to wash away any butter residue, then rinse in cold water to cool it down and dry with a paper towel. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites to soft peaks, about 1½ minutes. With a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, gently fold the egg whites into the sweet potato-buttermilk mixture until thoroughly combined. Pour the mixture into the prepared pie crust and bake on the middle rack until the center is firm and set, 35 to 40 minutes.
Remove the pie from the oven and cool completely on a rack. Serve at room temperature (or cover with plastic wrap, chill in the refrigerator, and serve cold), with a dollop of whipped cream and a mint leaf on top.
2006 Martens Maxwell Inc.
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