Hundreds of years ago colonists had already created and perfected an iconic Southern American dessert: The Sweet Potato Pie. They have transformed the humble sweet potato into a dessert that is absolutely sensational! I will never look at a sweet potato the same again. No longer will it be relegated to a Thanksgiving side-dish.
This is no ordinary sweet potato pie either. This is Mary Randolph’s Sweet Potato Pie and it is extraordinary. She masterfully combines brandy, lemon juice, lemon zest, vanilla extract and sweet potatoes into a pie that is positively bursting with flavor.
The zing of the lemon counterbalances the sweetness from the sweet potatoes, and the brandy adds additional depth of flavor. This pie would show up even the best pumpkin pies.
And I LOVE pumpkin pie.
Mary Randolph first published her influential cookbook The Virginia Housewife in 1824, which is generally considered to be the first Southern cookbook. This recipe is nestled in there as Sweet Potato Pudding. Mary Randolph was still in the habit of calling all desserts, pie or otherwise, puddings in the British sense of the word.
Call it what you will, the flavors blew me away.
I actually found this recipe in The Southern Heritage Pies and Pastry Cookbook (1984 Edition), which is my current obsession. You’ll be seeing a lot more from this cookbook because it’s ridiculous. Ridiculously Amazing.
Want. To. Make. Pie. Every. Night. Must. Resist.
I baked this pie in a cream cheese crust that will bowl you over. The crust was a botched first attempt at the pastry for Apricot Kolaches. It turns out that if you don’t follow the instructions exactly, you end up with a mess (and possibly tears).
Never one to waste, I pulled together the dough with some ice water, wrapped it in plastic wrap and threw it in the freezer to deal with later. Well thank heavens I sometimes forget to follow instructions! It’s now one of my favorite piecrusts and it’s super easy because you don’t have to cut the butter into the flour. Nope you get to use a hand mixer! Hell to the yes!
Instead of using the cream cheese crust as given below, you can also use my other favorite piecrust recipe, which would be equally amazing!
Paired with Lemon Whipped Cream this pie will be a hit in the Summer, Winter or a welcome addition to any Thanksgiving table.
P.S. – The secret to the bright orange color in this (and any) sweet potato pie is boiling the sweet potatoes instead of baking them.