Maple-Pecan Sweet Potato Pie


A little Southern style comfort for the cold weather months. photo: Nancy Duran

Note to self: you will receive lots of sweet potatoes if you join a winter vegetable share. Unfortunately, my husband absolutely does not accept this vegetable in a savory dish. No way, no how. And if I’m being perfectly honest, I’m happy to give it a miss as well. But mash it up with bourbon, sugar, and maple syrup and things start looking up for this humble tuber.

Because I’m not a huge fan of pie crust, I make this with my classic shortcrust pastry. However, a traditional pie crust is perfectly acceptable as well. In fact, if you want a quick and easy dessert that looks like you spent loads of time on it, get yourself a good quality pre-made frozen pie crust and whip up this filling. It’s pretty foolproof.

This is a wonderful pie to serve at a holiday dinner. The festive flavors of bourbon and nutmeg practically scream out for a traditional turkey feast to precede them. And it’s just a little unexpected. Where most would turn to pumpkin pie, you can stand out by showing up with this boozy little Southern charmer. Now I ask you, isn’t that exactly what every party needs?

Serves 8 to 10

Shortcrust Pastry
1 cup all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
2 to 4 tablespoons ice water

Sweet Potato Filling
1 1/2 cups cooked and mashed sweet potato (from about 1 pound)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup creme fraiche
2 tablespoons bourbon
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 tablespoon maple syrup
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup chopped pecans
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon maple syrup

  1. First, make the pastry: In the bowl of a food processor, add the flour, salt, and butter. Pulse just until the ingredients come together and resemble coarse meal. Add the sugar, egg yolk, zest, and 2 tablespoons of the water and process to combine. Add more water, a tablespoon at a time, just until the dough comes together into a ball. Be careful not to over-process or your dough will become tough.
  2. Turn the dough out onto a surface that has been lightly dusted with flour and give it a turn through the flour. Using the balls of your fingers, gently press the dough into a 9-inch round removable-base fluted tart tin. Press up the sides and around the entire base of the tin to create an evenly covered surface with no holes in the dough. Place on a baking tray in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to chill.
  3. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  4. Remove the pastry from the fridge to blind bake it. This will set the crust so that it doesn’t become soggy when you add the filling. Cover the crust with parchment paper and line the top of the parchment paper with pie weights (or if you don’t have pie weights use dried beans). This will weigh down the crust and decrease shrinking and puffing. Bake, covered, for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and remove parchment and pie weights. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F.
  5. Meanwhile, to make the filling: In a medium bowl, stir together the sweet potato, sugar, creme fraiche, bourbon, butter, syrup, eggs, nutmeg, and salt. When throughly combined, pour into the par-baked pastry.
  6. To make the topping: In a medium bowl, combine the pecans, butter, sugar, and syrup.
  7. Pour the nut topping over the pie and bake for 35 minutes, until set. Cool slightly then slice and serve with ice cream or whipped cream.



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