Sweet Potato Pie

What we like and don’t like is greatly influence by what we experienced growing up. When I tell people I make a sweet potato pie for Thanksgiving, they often ask, “What about pumpkin?” I never have liked pumpkin pie. Every time I eat it, I wish it was sweet potato. Once folks accept that answer, the next question they ask is, “Don’t you put any spices in your sweet potato pie? Cinnamon? Nutmeg? Allspice?” Nope. Just eggs, butter, and sugar.

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Preheat oven to 350°.

Crust

(Do not bake crust.)

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon shortening
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons cold water

Mix flour and salt in a medium bowl. Cut shortening into the flour by crisscrossing 2 knives until it’s the size of small peas. Add water a tablespoon at a time and mix with a fork until dough holds together. Form into a ball, handling the dough as little as possible. Do not knead the dough.

Prepare surface with flour and flour your rolling pin. Roll one ball of dough into the size of the pie pan, being sure to turn the dough over and reflour the surface at least once, and leaving enough dough to hang over the edge of the pie pan. Roll the crust onto the rolling pin and roll it out over the pie pan. Pierce the crust with a fork. Roll dough along edges of pan and crimp with a four or your fingers and thumb.

Filling

  • 3-4 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed (2 cups, cooked)
  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup Karo Syrup
  • 3 beaten eggs

Boil the sweet potatoes until tender. Drain. Combine butter, sugar, and Karo Syrup with the potatoes while they are still hot. I put it all in my stand mixer bowl. Mix until smooth. Gradually add the mixture to the eggs, increasing the temperature of the eggs so you don’t cook them. Add the eggs to the mixture.

Pour the filling into the pastry shell and bake at 350° at least 40 minutes or longer. To be sure it’s done, you can check the center of the pie with a toothpick or a knife. You don’t want the filling to stick to the knife.

You can serve topped with whipping cream, but it really doesn’t need it.

Aunt Mary’s Chocolate Pie

Aunt Mary's Chocolate Pie

Even though Aunt Mary and Uncle Walter Lee lived close to town, we didn’t visit very often. But every Christmas, we’d drive to their house on Brigham Branch. My memory of the meals she prepared is the opposite of the rigid Thanksgiving menu from my childhood. It seemed like Aunt Mary cooked everything imaginable and it sat on her dining room table for anyone who came to visit all day long. If you didn’t sample some of all of it, you’d truly offend her and she’s say, “Well. I guess it wasn’t fit to eat.”

Aunt Mary kept her desserts on the back screened-in porch where it was cool. Premier among them was her chocolate pie.

Preheat oven to 350°.

Crust

1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon shortening
2 to 3 tablespoons cold water

Mix flour and salt in a medium bowl. Cut shortening into the flour by crisscrossing 2 knives until it’s the size of small peas. Add water a tablespoon at a time and mix with a fork until dough holds together. Form into a ball, handling the dough as little as possible. Do not knead the dough.

Prepare surface with flour and flour your rolling pin. Roll one ball of dough into the size of the pie pan, being sure to turn the dough over and reflour the surface at least once, and leaving enough dough to hang over the edge of the pie pan. Roll the crust onto the rolling pin and roll it out over the pie pan. Pierce the crust with a fork. Roll dough along edges of pan and crimp with a fork or with your fingers.

Bake at 350° for 20 minutes. Let cool.

Filling

1 cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups milk
3 egg yolks
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 (maybe even 3) Baker’s unsweetened chocolate squares (4 squares of their new packaging)

Combine sugar, flour, salt, and broken up chocolate squares. Add milk and gradually bring to boil, stirring constantly or using a double boiler. When the chocolate melts and the filling is thick, add the hot mixture to the egg yolks a tablespoon at a time, gradually increasing the temperature of the yolks. If you add the yolks to the boiling pot, it will cook the eggs and you’ll have to start over. Add the heated yolks to the pot and stir about 3 more minutes. Stir in the vanilla. Cover the top of the filling with plastic wrap. This keeps a film from forming. Let it cool completely before spooning it intot the baked pastry shell.

Meringue:

Beat 3 egg whites. Gradually add 6 tablespoons of sugar and 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla. Poor filling in to pastry shell. Spread meringue, sealing it to the edges of the crust. Bake at 350° until meringue is golden brown. Cool and keep the pie refrigerated.