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Sweet potatoes are on a monthly rotation in my household; even my dog, Snoopy, loved them. The different components of the pie can be prepared on different days. Here’s a suggested order of steps you might find useful, especially if you make this for Thanksgiving. Day 1: Roast sweet potatoes, reduce the beer, and prepare the pie crust, but don’t blind bake (partially bake). Day 2: Blind bake the pie crust, prepare the sweet potato custard, and bake the pie. Of course, you can also do this all in one day.

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Nik Sharma

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Credit: Photo by Jennifer Causey / Food Styling by Melissa Gray / Prop Styling by Heather Chadduck Hillegas

Recipe Summary

active:
1 hr 25 mins
total:
4 hrs 25 mins
Servings:
8
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Ingredients

For the crust
For the filling

Directions

Instructions Checklist
  • To prepare the crust, line the base of a 9-by-1-inch [23 cm] round tart pan with parchment paper and grease lightly with a little butter.

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  • Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat with the paddle attachment on medium-low speed until the mixture is a uniform pale brown and fluffy, 4 to 5 minutes. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a silicone spatula. Add the egg and beat on medium-low speed until combined, 1 minute. Add the almond flour and salt and beat on medium-low speed until it comes together to form a ball of dough, 3 to 4 minutes. Scrape the dough from the bowl directly into the pre¬pared pan.

  • Using a small, flat-bottomed bowl or the base of a flat measuring cup (with parchment paper covering the dough if you wish), spread and level the dough until it covers the base and the sides in an even layer. Wrap with plastic wrap and freeze for at least 1 hour until firm. The crust can be pre¬pared in advance and frozen, wrapped and sealed in a resealable bag, for up to 2 weeks.

  • To partially bake the crust, at least 1 hour before it will be filled with the custard, preheat the oven to 350°F [177°C] and set a rack in the lower one-third position. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the crust on the baking sheet. Dock the surface by pricking it all over with a fork. Cover with a large sheet of parchment paper and weigh it down with pie weights. Bake until the sides just start to brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and cool for 5 minutes. Remove the weights and the parchment paper.

  • To prepare the filling, preheat the oven to 400°F [204°C]. Rinse the sweet potatoes to remove any dirt and pat them dry with paper towels. Place the sweet potatoes in a baking dish or on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Roast until completely tender, 35 to 45 minutes. Cool completely before handling. Peel the sweet potatoes, discard the skins, and purée the flesh in a food processor, about 15 seconds . You should have about 12 oz. [340 g – 1 1/2 cups] of sweet potato purée. Once the purée is completely cooled, proceed with the filling or refrigerate overnight in an airtight container. This can be done a day or two in advance.

  • When ready to complete the filling, pour the beer into a medium, deep, heavy-bottomed saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Watch carefully to avoid overflowing as the liquid foams on heating. Lower the heat to low and cook until the liquid reduces to about 1/4 cup [60 ml], 20 to 30 minutes. Cool to room tem¬perature before using, about 30 minutes.

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F [177°C]. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the reduced beer, sweet potato purée, sugar, honey, eggs, yolks, ginger, cardamom, turmeric, and salt. Slowly whisk in the milk and heavy cream until the sugar completely dissolves. In a small bowl, whisk the cornstarch and 1 1/2 Tbsp. of water to form a slurry. Pour the slurry into the custard and whisk until combined. Alternatively, add the ingredients to a high-speed blender and process on high speed briefly until you get a smooth slurry and sugar is dissolved, about 1 minute (this is my preferred method to obtain a silky-smooth filling).

  • Transfer the custard to a large saucepan and heat over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, scraping down the sides, until the mixture reaches 165°F [74°C] on an instant-read thermometer and begins to noticeably thicken, 10 to 12 minutes. Quickly remove from the heat. Set a fine-mesh sieve over a large measuring pitcher and strain the custard to remove any lumps; lightly tap the pitcher to remove air bubbles.

  • Set the tart shell on a large baking sheet and pour in the filling. Carefully transfer to the oven and bake until the custard is set and an instant-read thermometer reads 185°F [85°C] when inserted into the center of the custard, 25 to 30 minutes. The custard should be firm on the sides but slightly jiggly in the center. Transfer to a wire rack and let the pie cool to room temperature, about 1 hour, before serving.

Notes

You can use the same recipe to make a pumpkin pie, using 15 oz (430 g) unsweetened pumpkin purée in place of the sweet potato. Feel free to use a different crust, homemade or store-bought.

Most pie crusts tend to absorb a bit of water from the filling; nut-based crusts are notorious for this, because nuts release their fat on cooling and also absorb moisture from air (most nuts, including almonds, are hygroscopic). I’ve tried “waterproof¬ing” pie crusts with egg whites, but that’s never worked for me. Here’s a method that does work: Melt 3 Tbsp of white or dark bittersweet chocolate and paint the surface of the pie with a pastry brush. Let the chocolate set and harden before you pour in the custard and bake.

Reprinted from The Flavor Equation by Nik Sharma with permission by Chronicle Books, 2020.

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