Saturday, November 23, 2013

coconut-sweet potato pie.

Let's talk about pie.  Pie is the official dessert of that little holiday that happens next Thursday and it also happens to be the kind of thing that intimidates people.  They get nervous about the crust and how to roll it out and what blind baking means.  They get overwhelmed by the filling and how to make the filling cook with out burning the crust.  It's an utterly intimidating thing which is why I tend to avoid pie.  

I should rephrase that, I used to avoid pie, now I am a pie-a-holic. 

Nothing really changed, I didn't take a pie class or read a book, I just kind of accepted that pie is suppose to be homey.  It doesn't need to look perfect (though if it does all the more power to you), it just needs to taste exceptionally good which is why I love this sweet potato pie. 

I embraced my inner Southern woman with this recipe.  Or rather I embraced my inner Southern woman but added a very me twist to the whole thing with the addition of coconut milk.  This is a nice twist on the classic. The interplay of crunchy graham cracker crust (which is an easy way to introduce yourself to pie!) with creamy sweet potato custard is divine  The coconut milk brings an unexpected flavor and it also lightens the whole dish which is why its such a perfect ending to a Thanksgiving meal.  

Coconut Sweet-Potato Pie
Recipe adapted from Mark Bittman at the NYTimes

So! Considering my level of insanity, I made my own graham crackers.  (Would you ever expect anything less from me?)  Obviously homemade graham crackers are beyond wonderful but you don't need to make yourself crazy if you choose to buy them, that is probably the more sane option when you are preparing an entire turkey dinner.  The graham cracker recipe is here.  You only need a half batch to make the crust but I would make a full batch and store the rest in the freezer.  I have another graham cracker crust pie already bookmarked.  

I also made candied nuts for the top.  Also unnecessary but it makes for a nice presentation and the crunchy nuts pair beautifully with the creamy pie. Recipe for those is here.  I just halved it and omitted the vanilla and added a pinch of cayenne.  

2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks (or 2 cups of puree)
1 1/3 cups graham crackers which is 1 package of graham crackers if it has 9 full crackers
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar (brown or white)
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon 
6 - 8 tablespoons butter melted 
3 eggs
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Pinch of ground cloves
Large pinch of salt
1 cup full-fat coconut milk

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Put the sweet potatoes in a medium saucepan, add water to cover by about an inch, and bring to a boil; reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until the potatoes are very tender, 12 to 15 minutes. Drain, then rice the potatoes or run them through a food mill.

While the potatoes cook, put the graham crackers in a food processor and pulse several times until they are finely ground. Add 2 tablespoons of the sugar and 1/4 teaspoon each of the ginger and cinnamon, and pulse once or twice; add the melted butter (start with 6 and add the other 2 tablespoons if it doesn't come together) and pulse just to combine. Press the mixture into a 9-inch pie dish and bake for about 7 minutes. Remove the crust from the oven and cool.

In a food processor, combine the eggs with the remaining sugar, ginger and cinnamon, along with the nutmeg, cloves and salt; pulse until well combined. Add the coconut milk and pulse to combine, then add the sweet potatoes and pulse until just smooth.

Put the pie plate on a baking sheet. Pour the sweet potato mixture into the crust and bake until the mixture is set on top but still quite moist, 40 to 45 minutes. Cool on a rack and serve warm or at room temperature.


  1. You've not listed how much shredded coconut in the ingredient list so I don't know how much to put in the crust??

    1. Hi Cherie!

      The original recipe called for 1/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut. I actually omitted this since I didn't have any on hand and it was too cold to venture out to the store again. Either way it is a great pie!

      Thanks for catching that mistype and let me know how yours turns out!

  2. This looks divine by the way. I"m considering turning this filling into a Sweet Potato Haupia pie. It would definitely be an experiment, but I think one worth trying. Thanks for the great recipe.