Sunday, December 20, 2015

LaBelle Cuisine: Norma's Black-Bottom Sweet Potato Pie

I remember back around Thanksgiving, there was a viral video of some guy reviewing a Patti LaBelle sweet potato pie he'd bought at Walmart.  Yes, Walmart.  People flooded the stores and bought every pie in sight.  At the time I thought I must be misreading the articles.  Seriously?  Over a pie at Walmart?  All the baked goods I've ever seen there look incredibly unappealing.  But these people were serious.  Well, come to find out the recipe for the pie is in an old cookbook Patti put out around 1999.  I decided I needed to try this magical pie that was sold out everywhere, but we already had a pumpkin pie lined up for Thanksgiving festivities.  So it's a little delayed, but delayed gratification is good, right?

Note: It seems like a lot of nutmeg.  It apparently freaks some people out. (Epicurious, I'm looking at you.) I promise it's the right amount.  It makes the pie delicious.  Also, I used a Marie Callender's frozen crust instead of following the recipe because I just didn't want to deal with rolling out a crust today.  I just wanted PIE.  And I think the Marie Callender's crusts are pretty darn good for frozen.

Norma's Black-Bottom Sweet Potato Pie
From LaBelle Cuisine by Patti LaBelle

For the pie crust:
1½ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup butter-flavored vegetable shortening, chilled
⅓ cup ice water

For the filling:
3 large orange-fleshed sweet potatoes (Louisiana yams), scrubbed
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
¾ cup packed light brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
¼ cup half-and-half
¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Whipped cream, for serving (optional)

For the crust: Sift the flour and salt into a medium bowl. Add the shortening. Using a fork or a pastry blender, cut the shortening into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs with a few pea-sized bits. Stirring with the fork, gradually add enough of the water until the mixture clumps together (you may need more or less water). Gather up the dough and press into a thick disk. If desired, wrap the dough in wax paper and refrigerate for up to 1 hour.

On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough into a 13-inch circle about ⅛-inch thick. Fold the dough in half. Transfer to a 9-inch pie pan, and gently unfold the dough to fit into the pan. Using scissors or a sharp knife, trim the dough to a 1-inch overhang. Fold the dough under itself so the edge of the fold is flush with the edge of the pan. Flute the dough around the edge of the pan. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate while making the filling.

For the filling: Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the sweet potatoes and reduce the heat to medium. Cook until the sweet potatoes are tender when pierced with a knife, about 30 minutes. Drain and run under cold water until cool enough to handle. Peel the sweet potatoes and place in a medium bowl.

Mash with an electric mixer on medium speed until very smooth. Measure 3 cups mashed sweet potatoes, keeping any extra for another use, and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Uncover the pie shell and brush the interior with some of the melted butter. Sprinkle ¼ cup of the brown sugar over the bottom of the pie shell. Bake until the pie dough is set and just beginning to brown, about 15 minutes. If the pie shell puffs, do not prick it.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, using an electric mixer on low speed, mix the mashed sweet potatoes, the remaining melted butter and ½ cup brown sugar, the granulated sugar, eggs, half-and-half, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Spread into the partially baked pie shell, smoothing the top.

Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F. Bake until a knife inserted in the center of the filling comes out clean, about 1½ hours. Cool completely on a wire cake rack. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve with whipped cream.

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