Confession: I love pie. All kinds. I assumed all people felt that way until I met my husband, who hates cooked fruit and all citrus desserts so almost all pies are out the window. I’m left with the cream, custard, and root vegetable pies. But I ain’t complainin', because I have this sweet potato pie recipe in my life. I love this pie so much I would choose it over pumpkin pie any day, and the flavor and texture of the filling is so superior that I can eat it without whipped cream. Coming from MoreIcingThanCake I hope you realize this must mean it's special because usually my motto in life is the more toppings the merrier.
Sweet potato pie originated in the South, and so does the story behind this recipe. I was visiting friends in Memphis, Tennessee for the first time quite some years ago and was dying to go visit Graceland, the mansion on the huge estate where Elvis Presley lived. Too embarrassed to be seen doing something so touristy in their own town, my friends graciously offered to drop me off and pick me up whenever I was done. I did the tours, loved every bit of it, but about 3 hours in, realized I was losing my will to live because I had completely skipped lunch and it was now late in the afternoon. I wandered into the little cafe and grabbed the first thing I saw in the case below the register— a slice of sweet potato pie. I didn’t expect greatness, I was just trying to solve the crashing blood sugar situation in the fastest way possible. So I sat, alone at a table, started in, but enjoyed this piece of pie so immensely that I didn’t bother holding back the sound effects of approval or the happy dance.
After I’d scarfed it down in record time, realizing it was by far the BEST pie I’d ever eaten and quite sad the whole experience ended, I approached the counter and told the woman I HAD to have the recipe, if she could share it. She said if I wanted to purchase it, I actually could next-door at the gift shop. I ran over, found it on a postcard with sweet Elvis' face on it, and to this day I still have it, use it, and think it’s the best .50 cents I ever spent. So thanks, Graceland.
I decided to turn the recipe into minis because they can be passed around a party on a platter and they don’t require forks or plates, just two or three blissful bites each. Half the clean up, double the adorableness factor. This recipe will make 24 mini’s, which requires the equivalent of two 9 inch pie crusts. If you want to make a whole pie instead of minis, this filling recipe is enough for just one pie and you can omit the second pie crust. I reshaped and rolled out scraps of the leftover dough and made little leaf cutouts as decorations for the top, but it is certainly not required.
The beauty of this recipe is how easy it is to make! It also keeps at room temp, travels easily because they aren’t particularly fragile, and you can make it ahead of time! The filling only requires 7 ingredients, and most of them are pantry staples. So with the exception of the potatoes, you most likely could make this right now without having to even go shopping first.
WHAT YOU'LL NEED
2 large sweet potatoes
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 Tbs Vanilla extract
1 Tbs ground Nutmeg*
1 stick (8 oz) butter, softened
1/2 cup milk
Two 9-inch unbaked pie crusts, store-bought or homemade**
*This is not a typo. One whole tablespoon of nutmeg. I know it seems like a lot, but I promise you, it is partly what makes this pie so incredible and cuts the sweetness. After baking, there is nothing overpowering about it. So even though it may seem like a lot, don’t skimp on the nutmeg.
**If you are looking for a good pie crust recipe I personally like this one from Martha Stewart, you’ll just want to double it.
WHAT YOU'LL DO
Start by roasting your sweet potatoes until tender. Scrub potatoes, pierce each in several places with a fork or knife, place on foil-lined baking sheet and bake at 425 degrees F for 45 mins to 1 hour, until soft and oozing from the punctures. Cool, peel, and mash. (This can also be done a whole day in advance).
Preheat your oven (or turn it down) to 350 degrees F.
Roll out your pie crust on a lightly floured surface until it is about 1/4 inch thick. Use the rim of a glass, large mason jar lid, or large biscuit cutter to cut rings in the pie crust. Re-roll out scraps to cut out more rounds until you are able to make a total of 12. Press crust rounds into an ungreased regular size 12-cup muffin tin. It doesn’t have to be pretty, but make sure you really press it down flat on the bottom and tight up against the sides. Repeat with the second pie crust for the other muffin tin. Throw them in the freezer for a few minutes so they get nice and cold again while you mix your filling. Cold pie crust that stays cold prevents warpage during baking and makes it stay flaky. If desired, roll out remaining scraps and cut out small shapes to place on top of the pies.
Mix the potatoes and all other ingredients in a bowl. Remove your muffin tins and fill about 3/4 of the way full (a few spoonfuls), leaving room for it to puff up without spilling out over the pie crusts. Top with leaf cutouts if using. Bake them for 40 mins, or until the crust starts to brown and the filling darkens in color on top and centers are no longer wobbly. Like a soufflé, the filling will puff up during baking, and flatten out once cool. Let them cool completely in the muffin tins, then transfer to a platter and serve at room temp.
Again this makes 24 mini pies and it’s been my experience that people want to eat at least one, usually two, three if no one is looking.