No More Mr. Nice Pie

No More Mr. Nice Pie
Drawing by Retsu Takahashi

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Countdown to Thanksgiving DAY 4 Sweet Potato Pecan Pie

Sibling Baker From Seattle’s Sweet Potato Pecan Pie, Updated with a Kick

My younger sister is the hip one in the sibling line-up. When she isn’t brilliantly planning and developing in the City of Seattle, she is often found baking up a pie/cake/cookie storm. We share a fondness for Sweet Potato Pecan Pie. This probably stems from our love of New Orleans plus the countless number of slices we served (and consumed) at A Slice of Heaven, crowned with Frangelico whipped cream. That was a few lifetimes ago. The updated version doesn’t stray too far from the original recipe except the filling has been kicked up a notch with a hit of Sriracha. The heat of the chili sauce plays nicely with the sweet and spicy. I suspect if you were giving thanks in the Pacific Northwest, you would want to be seated at the cool kids’ table. This pie would guarantee you a spot.

K-Paul’s Sweet Potato Pecan Pie, Updated with a Kick (one 9” pie)

First things, first: roast 2 or 3 sweet potatoes in the oven. When cool enough to handle, remove the skins and puree in a food processor. (You will need 2 cups of sweet potato puree; you want it smooth, not pasty, so don’t overdo.)

The crust:
1¼ cups all purpose flour
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon sugar
generous pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
½ teaspoon orange zest
¼ cup cold unsalted butter, cut in small cubes
½ cup chilled non-hydrogenated shortening, cut in small cubes
3-4 tablespoons fresh orange juice, chilled

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment, place the flour, salt, sugar, nutmeg and orange zest. Add the butter and shortening, pulsing just until the mixture becomes crumbly. Don’t over process. Turn the mixture into a large mixing bowl and using a fork, add the orange juice combining gently just until the mixture forms a soft dough. If it’s a touch dry, you can add a bit more orange juice. Pat the dough into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour. When the dough has chilled, roll out on a lightly floured piece of parchment and fit it into a 9”x 1½” deep pie plate. (It is important that the pie plate is at least 1½” deep- if you use a shallower pan, the filling will overflow and you don’t want that.)  Crimp the edges and place the unbaked shell back in the fridge.

The filling:
2 cups of sweet potato puree
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
¾ cup dark brown sugar
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
¾ cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon orange zest
2 tablespoons bourbon
1 teaspoon Sriracha
3 eggs
1 yolk

Pecan Syrup:
¼ cup granulated sugar
½ cup dark corn syrup
1 small egg, room temperature
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch salt
¾ cup pecan halves

To assemble: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

A few words about the oven temp and time. The original recipe has you bake the pie for 1¾ hours at 325 degrees. I prefer to start the pie at 350 to set up the crust. After 25 minutes, I reduce the heat to 325 and bake the pie for an additional 35-40 minutes. Every oven is different- check the pie to make sure the edges aren’t getting too brown. If they are, cover them with strips of aluminum foil. The K-Paul recipe says the pie will test clean with a knife when fully baked. I think the center should jiggle just slightly, as the pie continues to set up as it cools. 

In a large bowl, combine the sweet potatoes with 4 tablespoons of butter. In a separate bowl, combine the brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. Add the brown sugar and spices to the sweet potatoes. Then add the heavy cream, vanilla, zest, bourbon and Sriracha. In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs and the yolk; blend them into the sweet potato mixture.

Prepare the pecan syrup by combining the sugar, corn syrup, egg, melted butter, vanilla and salt until the sugar dissolves and it is well blended. Stir in the pecans.

Turn the sweet potato mixture into the chilled pie crust, smooth the top with an offset spatula and place on a baking sheet. Carefully and slowly pour the pecan syrup evenly over the top of the pie. A bit will sink into the filling. (Depending on the depth of your pie plate, you may have a bit of extra syrup. Don’t overfill the pie plate.) Bake the pie for 25 minutes at 350 degrees on the bottom shelf of your oven. Reduce the temperature to 325 degrees, move the baking sheet to the middle rack of the oven and bake for an additional 35-40 minutes. The pecans will rise to the top as the pie bakes. The edges should be firm, the center should jiggle ever so slightly.  Let cool and serve with Frangelico whipped cream.

Frangelico Whipped Cream
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons Frangelico

In a chilled bowl with an electric mixer, beat the heavy cream until it holds soft peaks. Add the Frangelico and beat on high just until the cream forms stiff peaks.

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