It’s Thanksgiving Week — Today’s Recipe: Phoebe’s Sweet Potato Cream Pie from Sara Foster’s Pie: A Savor the South Cookbook (plus a bonus!)

As we enter into the final preparations for Thanksgiving, we’re highlighting delicious recipes from recent UNC Press cookbooks.  Each day this week, our authors bring you their best dishes to help make your holiday special and memorable.

(Plus, since you’re probably at wit’s end by now, we thought you could use a pick-me-up, so we’re offering a bonus recipe, just for the cook.)

Today, it’s —

Pie: A Savor the South Cookbook by Sara FosterPhoebe’s Sweet Potato Cream Pie from Sara Foster’s Pie: A Savor the South Cookbook

At Scratch bakery in Durham, North Carolina, Phoebe Lawless has been turning out pies since 2008. Starting as a one-woman operation at the Durham Farmers’ Market, she now has the bakery and a restaurant, where she whips up everything from Shaker lemon pie to sea salt chocolate crostatas on the sweet side. And on the savory side (my favorite), she makes pigs in a blanket, squash and apple crostatas, turnip and sausage empanadas, and many more flavorful pies, all driven by the seasons. If you’re looking for a good gluten-free crust for other pies, the crust in this recipe is a great option.

Makes one 9-inch pie / Serves 8–10

For the crust
1 1⁄2 cup rolled oats
1⁄4 cup sesame seeds
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1⁄2 teaspoon kosher salt
6 tablespoons (3⁄4 stick) unsalted butter, melted

For the caramel layer
1⁄2 cup heavy cream
1 cup granulated sugar
1⁄4 cup water
1⁄4 teaspoon kosher salt

For the filling
1 1⁄4 cups milk
1⁄2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
3⁄4 cup granulated sugar
1⁄4 cup cornstarch
1⁄2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1⁄4 teaspoon ground ginger
1⁄4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1⁄4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1 cup sweet potato purée (see Note)
4 tablespoons (1⁄2 stick) unsalted butter

For the topping
1 cup heavy cream
1⁄4 cup granulated sugar

For the crust:
Preheat the oven to 350°.

Combine the oats, sesame seeds, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to crush the oats. (Do not pulse to a fine dust; the crumbs will have small pieces remaining.)
Add the melted butter and pulse until the dry ingredients are moistened.

Press the mixture evenly on the bottom and up the sides of the pan to form the crust. Freeze or refrigerate for 30 minutes until firm.

Place the pie pan on a rimmed baking sheet on the center rack in the oven to bake just until golden brown, 15–20 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

For the caramel layer:
Pour the cream into a heavy-bottomed, non-aluminum saucepan over medium heat and bring to just under a boil, stirring occasionally, to warm the cream. Remove from the heat and set aside.

In a separate deep, heavy saucepan-bottomed, combine the sugar, water, and salt. Stir to mix and bring to a boil over medium heat. Continue to boil without stirring, swirling the pan occasionally, until the mixture is amber colored, 5–8 minutes.

Remove the caramel from the heat. Slowly add the cream, pouring it to the side of the pan; it will boil rapidly. When it stops boiling, whisk until smooth and allow to cool. Whisk the caramel periodically as it continues to cool. Once cooled to room temperature, spread in the bottom of the prepared crust and refrigerate until firm.

For the custard layer:
Place the milk in a heavy-bottomed, non-aluminum saucepan over medium heat. Add the vanilla bean and seeds and whisk to mix. To scald the milk, bring to just under a boil, whisking often. The milk will start to bubble around the edges and steam. Remove from the heat and discard the vanilla bean.

In a large bowl, combine the sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, ginger, pepper, and salt and stir to mix. Add the eggs, egg yolks, and sweet potato purée and whisk until combined. Slowly add about 1 cup of the warm milk mixture, whisking constantly, to temper the eggs. Whisk the egg mixture back into the remaining milk mixture in the saucepan and place back over medium-low heat. Continue to cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens, 3–4 minutes. You want to see a few bubbles begin to rise slowly from the bottom of the pan. Do not let the mixture come to a full boil or cook too long—you will overcook the eggs. The mixture is thick enough when the whisk leaves tracks as you stir. Remove from the heat to stop the cooking process and strain through a mesh strainer into a large bowl. Add the butter and whisk until melted. Place a layer of plastic wrap directly on the custard and set aside to cool slightly.

Once the filling has cooled to room temperature, spread it evenly over the caramel layer and refrigerate the pie until firm, at least 2 hours or overnight.

For the topping:
When ready to serve, place the heavy cream in a medium bowl and beat with an electric mixer on high speed until soft peaks form. Add the sugar and continue to beat just to combine. Remove the pie from the refrigerator. Top with the whipped cream, slice, and serve cold or refrigerate until ready to serve.

NOTE:  To make the sweet potato puree, preheat the oven to 400°. Wrap 1 large sweet potato in foil and bake for 50–60 minutes until very soft to the touch. Remove the foil; when cool enough to handle, slip the skin off. Place the sweet potato in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade and puree until smooth. One medium-large to large sweet potato makes about 1 cup of puree.

From Pie:  A Savor the South Cookbook,
Copyright © 2018 Sara Foster


Sara Foster is the owner of Foster’s Market in Durham, North Carolina, and the author of five cookbooks.  Visit her website here.

And now, for your bonus, here’s a recipe for —

Distilling the South: A Guide to Southern Craft Liquors and the People Who Make Them by Kathleen PurvisPitcher of Rum Punch from Distilling the South by Kathleen Purvis

From Regina and Doug Charboneau of Charboneau Distillery and Kings Tavern, Natchez, Mississippi.

Makes 6 to 8 servings, depending on size

1 1/2 cups gold rum, such as Charboneau
1/2 cup frozen limeade concentrate
1/4 cup frozen orange juice concentrate
4 cups pineapple juice
1/4 cup grenadine
3 cups water
Lime slices (garnish)

Combine all the ingredients in a pitcher. Stir well. Serve over ice with a lime twist.

From Distilling the South:  A Guide to Southern Craft Liquors and the People Who Make Them by Kathleen Purvis
Copyright © 2018 Kathleen Purvis


Kathleen Purvis is an award-winning food writer, food editor for the Charlotte Observer, and the author of two cookbooks, Bourbon and Pecans.