It began as a joking comment about my southern heritage on Twitter: I should make a chocolate sweet potato pie. Because (self-evident). Shortly afterwards, I had people inviting themselves to my house for Thanksgiving dinner.
I ended up not making sweet potato pie for Canadian Thanksgiving, but the image stuck with me and began to take form. American Thanksgiving was still yet to come, and so I set the wheels in motion. The other details were vague, but I wanted a marbled chocolate sweet potato pie. It wasn’t going to be as candied-sweet as so many sweet potato pies and casseroles were. But marshmallows and pecans were required. I mean, you can’t really have a real southern sweet potato pie without pecans and marshmallows–I’m pretty sure it’s against the law.
Bit by bit, over the course of staged bake testing, the final form came together: a fully-from-scratch (and incidentally gluten-free) mellow roasted sweet potato dessert pie with a dark chocolate bite, topped with a HFCS-free honey-sweet sticky home-made marshmallow creme, served in a buttery pecan crust. See below the recipe for info on the marshmallow creme.
The pie itself is shockingly easy to make–the only special equipment required is a blender, which not only makes the process speedy, but also ensures a smooth texture. ROAST YOUR SWEET POTATOES. Don’t break down and boil them, or worse, used canned. It’s just like I said last week: roasting makes everything more awesome. Leave the potatoes whole, and toss a couple in whenever you’re using the oven to make dinner, then just store them in the fridge till you’re ready to make pie.
If you buy your pecans ground, the crust is easy enough for a novice; there’s no futzing with butter cubes or delicate pastry dough required. Low and slow are the only things to keep in mind: nut crusts can burn easily, and don’t have to blacken to smell and taste burnt. Don’t exceed 350F, no matter what the rush, and protect the crust with a simple tenting of foil.
Chocolate Swirl Sweet Potato Pie with Pecan Crust
|Prep time||1 hour, 15 minutes|
|Cook time||1 hour|
|Total time||2 hours, 15 minutes|
|Allergy||Egg, Milk, Tree Nuts|
|Misc||Pre-preparable, Serve Cold|
- 2 eggs
- 3/4 cups table cream
- 3/4 cups white sugar (brown will taste fine but muddy the orange of the sweet potato)
- 1/3 cup butter, melted
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 3/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher (coarse) salt
- 2 cups roasted and mashed sweet potato (about two large potatoes)
- 1/4 cup cocoa powder
- 1/4 cup table cream
- white sugar (to sweeten chocolate to taste, if desired)
- 1/3 cup white sugar
- 2 1/2 cups ground pecans
- 1/4 cup butter, melted
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
The nut crust will require a little patience and care to ensure that it is firmly packed and doesn't burn. Nut crusts can burn easily, so ensure that you do not overbake it, keep the temperature at 350F maximum, or a little lower if your oven runs hot, and make sure you protect the exposed crust with a shield.
Dark chocolate is one of those love it or not kind of things, and my family prefers its chocolate on the bitter side. If you are playing to a crowd that prefers super sweets, or you do not intend to balance the bite of dark chocolate in the pie by topping it with marshmallow creme, you may want to add additional sugar to the chocolate mix.
I found this marshmallow creme recipe by Elizabeth Ennis when I was looking for one that didn’t require corn syrup. In spite of having to use a handmixer (which died just before I got to stiff peak) instead of a fancy Kitchenaid Stand Mixer (I don’t have one, yet…:( ), using honey instead of corn syrup turned out quite well, and everyone loved the taste of honey against the chocolate. She’s got a handy instructional video, and the recipe makes tons. I did only attempt her recipe once, so I can’t 100% vouch for it as failproof, and it did take significantly longer with a handmixer than she claimed it did with a stand mixer. You can try it or cave and get store bought. Your choice.
If you make it, use care when handling the hot sugar syrup. Reaching the soft ball temperature may cause the syrup to foam up suddenly (extremely messy), and you can get some nasty burns from hot sugar. Marshmallow creme is candy-making, which isn’t necessarily for the faint of heart and unprepared, but can be extremely rewarding. DO make this in advance of making your pie, and if you do not have a stand mixer, have a spotter to help you pour and mix, a good, reliable candy thermometer or know how to test for soft ball using a cup of water.