Thursday, December 8, 2011

Brown Sugar Cardamom Sweet Potato Pie

Whereas in my last post I went out on a limb to try Eggnog Scones, a treat that brought together a couple of the flavors that I usually dislike, this recipe incorporates two of the ingredients that I've gone completely nuts for in the past year: cardamom and sweet potatoes.  When I saw this recipe from Baking Bites last month I couldn't wait to try it--two of my favorite flavors combined in one dessert! It's like she knows me!--and, honestly, I can't believe I didn't think of it myself since I'm pretty much a cardamom fanatic at this point and add it to anything and everything possible.

I was actually completely unaware of cardamom until relatively recently when I ate at one of my now-favorite DC restaurants, Rasika.  The delicious gulab jamun I had for dessert there were unlike anything I'd tasted and I HAD to know what spice was at work in the dish. And the rest is cardamom-scented history :)

If you haven't worked with cardamom before, it's very aromatic and has a slight citrusy taste that you'll probably recognize if you've ever had chai.  It can be purchased as whole pods (often crushed and used for infusing flavor before being removed) as well as ground, which looks like a cross between cinnamon and nutmeg.  If you're a big cardamom fan like me, you might also want to check out this recipe for Cardamom Panna Cotta, which showcases the flavor beautifully.

Even though Thanksgiving has come and gone, this would also be a great alternative for next year's pumpkin pie if you're not a pumpkin fan, or just looking for something different--although sweet potatoes have more calories from sugar than pumpkin, they are significantly higher in fiber, vitamins A and C, as well as calcium and iron.  So go ahead and have a second slice ; )

*A Few Notes: I've included the Martha Stewart graham cracker crust recipe I used but, if you don't feel like making the crust from scratch you honestly don't lose anything to taste in the recipe by buying a pre-made crust.  If you do make the crust, you should be more adventurous than I was and try it using cinnamon or gingerbread graham crackers (but in that case you might want to omit the added 3 Tbs sugar).  You can also cut sugar by skipping the caramelized brown sugar layer added to the crust before pouring in the filling.

Brown Sugar Cardamom Sweet Potato Pie
     from Baking Bites
1 9 or 10-inch graham cracker pie crust, prebaked or store bought
1 cup brown sugar, divided
1 1/4 cup cooked, pureed sweet potato or canned
3 large eggs
3/4 cup milk
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp all purpose flour

1. Preheat oven to 350F.

2. Place graham cracker crust onto a baking sheet. Sprinkle 1/4 cup brown sugar evenly over the bottom of the crust. Bake sugar-lined crust for 10 minutes while you prepare the filling.

3. Press sweet potato puree through a wire strainer to make it as smooth as possible, adding a tablespoon or two of water if you are working with leftover potatoes to make them a bit more pliable.

4. In a large bowl (or the bowl of a food processor), whisk together all ingredients except the flour. Whisk until very smooth. Sift flour over the sweet potato mixture, and whisk until fully incorporated.

5. Slide brown sugar-filled crust out of the oven and pour filling into pie crust (do not overfill crust if your pie is slightly shallow, just discard excess filling), then return pie to oven.

6. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until pie is set and jiggles only slightly when the pan is bumped.

7. Cool on a wire rack to room temperature. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight, before serving.

Graham Cracker Crust
     makes 1 9-inch crust
12 graham crackers finely ground
6 Tbs unsalted butter, melted
3 Tbs sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Pulse graham cracker crumbs, butter and sugar in a food processor until combined.

2.  Firmly press crumb mixture into bottom and up sides of a 9-inch pie dish.  Bake until edges are golden, 12-14 minutes.  Cool on a wire rack.

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