Mary Randolph’s Sweet Potato Pie

Ingredients

For the Cream Cheese Crust:
    • 1 cup +2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
    • ¼ teaspoon salt
    • 4 oz cream cheese
    • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
    • ice water as needed
For the Sweet Potato Filling:
  • ¼ cup butter, unsalted, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 cups cooked, mashed sweet potatoes
  • 3 eggs, room temperature
  • ¼ cup brandy [I use E&J XO Extra Smooth Brandy]
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (be careful not to get the bitter, white pith!)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1 unbaked (9-inch) pastry shell

Instructions

To Prepare the Cream Cheese Pastry:
    1. Sift flour and salt together in a medium bowl and set aside.
    2. Beat the cream cheese and butter together with a stand mixer or a hand mixer until completely incorporated and creamy (3-5 minutes).
    3. Reduce the speed of the mixer and add in the flour. Mix until the dough comes together. If the dough is not cohesive and will not stay in a ball, sprinkle ice water a teaspoon at a time over the dough and mix with a fork until it comes together in a ball.
    4. Flatten into a circle, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until hard, at least 4 hours. Overnight refrigeration is recommended.
    5. Roll out your pastry to 1/8th inch thick and line a pie dish, trim the edges, roll them under and crimp decoratively. Cover loosely and place in the refrigerator until ready to fill.
To Prepare the Filling:
  1. Preheat oven to 400°
  2. Place brandy in a small pan and heat until warm. Do not boil. Keep warm.
  3. Cream butter in a mixing bowl with a hand mixer: gradually add sugar, beating well after each addition. Add potatoes; beat on medium speed until well blended.
  4. Add eggs, one at a time; beating after each addition.
  5. Add the brandy, lemon zest, lemon juice, vanilla and nutmeg to the sweet potato mixture; stir until well blended.
  6. Pour mixture into pastry shell.
  7. Bake at 400° for 15 minutes. Lower the temperature to 350° and continue baking until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean, about 25 more minutes.

Notes:

For the photos, I halved the filling recipe to make two mini pies, so that is always an option!

Cooking and Mashing Sweet Potatoes: Peel the sweet potatoes (you will need 2-3 for this recipe). Cut them into golf ball sized chunks and place in a medium saucepan. Pour in cold water just to cover then bring to a boil over medium high heat. Boil until a fork can be inserted easily into the center of the largest chunk. Drain. You have several options at this point: you can use a ricer, which is what I did; you can throw them in a food processor, which is probably what I should have done; or you can mash them by hand, which is so not recommended! Let them cool to room temperature prior to preparing the filling.

A note on Brandy – I use E&J XO Extra Smooth Brandy; a more expensive, barrel aged brandy with almost floral notes. If you use a different brandy or one with a higher alcohol content (greater than 80 proof), you might want to reduce the brandy by half and taste as you go. You want to have a subtle brandy flavor but it shouldn’t overwhelm the dish.

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