2012 Advent Calendar, Day 15

Today, we liberate sweet potato pie from the tyranny of Thanksgiving! We free it from the bonds of turkey and gravy, mashed potatoes and green beans! No more shall this dessert be relegated to one holiday when 364 days of the year are so glaringly sweet potato pie-deficient. Radiating a spirit of Christmas generosity, give the world a slice of heaven; I assure you, no right-minded pie-eating person could deny it.

2012 Advent Calendar, Day 15

Like a lot of people, I grew up eating pumpkin pie, which was fine because I didn’t know better; the spices were there, but the flabby, wet consistency was a turnoff. I grew up with this idea that sweet potato pie could be amazing because my dad gets this dreamy look in his eyes when he talks about the ones his co-worker used to bring in. But he never tried to duplicate them at home, so sometime in adulthood I discovered sweet potato pie on my own and wondered if there were other secrets my family kept from me all those years. If you can have the real thing, why suffer through a Jell-o approximation?

W. Kamau Bell put sweet potato pie front and center in his Thanksgiving episode, maintaining, “Black people like sweet potato pie and white people are wrong.” If the breakdown is that stark, then yeah, he’s got us there. So I’m getting evangelical about it . . . Make This Pie! The gluten-free version is just as good as the regular, so you really have no excuse.

2012 Advent Calendar, Day 15

I also made my own pie spice, using the recipe here. Totally worth it to have something so fresh and, you know, spicy on hand. As the recipe yields a lot, it gives me plenty of reason to make more pies as often as possible.

So treat yourself this holiday season. Make a sweet potato pie.

recipe after the jump

Sweet Potato Pie adapted from Epicurious

I used Mary’s Gone Crackers Ginger Snaps for the crust. Of the gluten-free gingersnaps I’ve tried, these are by far the best and have a softer texture than other more cardboard-y cookies. If there are others you’d recommend, please let me know in the comments section.

For crust
1 cup gingersnap crumbs (from about 4 1/2 ounces gingersnap cookies ground in processor)
1/2 cup toasted pecans (about 2 1/4 ounces)
1 1/2 tablespoons (packed) dark brown sugar
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted

For filling
1 1/4 cups (packed) roasted sweet potato flesh (about 8 ounces)
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons whipping cream
1/2 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 tablespoon dark rum or bourbon
1 1/4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
Pinch of salt
8 pecan halves

Make crust:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Blend gingersnap crumbs, toasted pecans, sugar and salt in processor until pecans are finely chopped. Add butter and process until mixture forms moist crumbs. Press crust onto bottom and up sides of 9-inch-diameter pie pan.

Make filling:
Purée sweet potatoes in processor. Add 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons cream, brown sugar, egg and yolk, rum or bourbon, pumpkin pie spice and salt; blend until smooth. Pour into crust. Smooth top. Place pecan halves around edges.

Bake until filling is set in center, about 40 minutes. Cool pie on rack. Chill until cold. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Keep refrigerated.) Pipe or spoon sweetened whipped cream on top of pie between pecans, if desired.

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