Sweet Potato-Brown Sugar Meringue Pie

This recipe calls for fresh sweet potatoes, but if you're pressed for time, a canned variety may be substituted (omit the microwaving in step 4). The cinnamon-flecked, brown sugar meringue is a showstopper, standing twice as high as the filling.

CRUST

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, chilled, cut up
4 to 5 tablespoons ice water

FILLING

2 lb. sweet potatoes (orange)*
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
4 egg yolks, room temperature
2 tablespoons bourbon, if desired
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt

MERINGUE

1/3 cup water
1 tablespoon cornstarch
4 egg whites, room temperature
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1. Combine flour, sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon salt in medium bowl. With pastry blender or 2 knives, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs with some pea-size pieces. Add 4 tablespoons of the ice water; stir until dough begins to form, adding additional water 1 teaspoon at a time, if necessary. Shape into flat round; cover and refrigerate 1 hour or until firm.

2. On lightly floured surface, roll dough to 12-inch round. Line 9-inch pie pan with dough. Trim overhang to 1 inch; fold under. Flute edges. Prick bottom of crust with fork. Refrigerate 30 minutes or until dough is firm.

3. Meanwhile, heat oven to 400ºF. Line crust with foil; fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until bottom of crust is partially baked and edge is light golden brown. Remove foil and pie weights. Cool completely on wire rack. Reduce oven temperature to 325ºF.

4. Meanwhile, pierce sweet potatoes all over with fork; place on microwave-safe plate. Microwave on high 6 to 10 minutes or until tender, turning occasionally. Cool 15 minutes or until cool enough to handle. Cut sweet potatoes in half; scoop out pulp. Coarsely mash with fork; measure out 2 cups. Place in food processor; pulse until smooth. Add 1 cup brown sugar and cream; pulse until combined. Add all remaining filling ingredients; process until smooth. Pour into crust; loosely cover edge of crust with foil.

5. Bake at 325ºF. 55 to 60 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out moist but clean. Cool on wire rack while making meringue.

6. Stir 1/3 cup water and cornstarch in small saucepan until smooth. Bring to a boil over medium heat; boil 30 seconds or until thickened, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; cover to keep warm.

7. Beat egg whites, 3/4 cup brown sugar and cream of tartar in large heatproof bowl of stand mixer at medium speed 1 minute or until egg whites are foamy. Place bowl over saucepan of simmering water (bowl should not touch water). Heat 4 to 6 minutes or until temperature reaches 160ºF., whisking constantly. Remove bowl from saucepan. At low speed, beat in cornstarch mixture and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. Increase speed to medium-high; beat 3 to 4 minutes or until stiff peaks form. Spoon meringue over filling; swirl decoratively.

8. Brown meringue lightly with a kitchen torch or broil 1 to 2 minutes or until lightly golden brown turning and checking frequently. Cool completely on wire rack; store in refrigerator. (Pie is best served the day it is made.)

8 servings

PER SERVING: 520 calories, 19.5 g total fat (11.5 g saturated fat), 7 g protein, 80.5 g carbohydrate, 140 mg cholesterol, 225 mg sodium, 3.5 g fiber

TIP *Look for deep orange-colored sweet potatoes, often labeled as yams.


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