Editor's note: There's no such thing as too much pie at Thanksgiving, so this week on Sweets is Pie Week—a different recipe every day.
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I realize that when it comes to sweet potato pie, at face value I have very little to offer in the way of Southern street-cred. But my recipe for sweet potato pie is the result of many iterations, tested and approved by a sous chef—a bona fide southerner.
Sweet potato pie is all about balance. I like to keep the sweet potato front and center, with caramel notes from brown sugar, and just a touch of spice to enhance, but not overpower the flavor. With a pie that's less sweet in the filling, you can layer on sweetness with the marshmallow topping. I prefer to brulee the top just before serving (not pictured because I took it too far under the broiler—let this be your cautionary tale), which provides a rich warm contrast to the chilled filling.
When choosing sweet potatoes, look for those with firm, hard exteriors and minimal lacerations. The flesh on the inside should be deep, fiery orange, and the skin on the outside should be reddish-brown. Fresh sweet potatoes are an important crop in North Carolina and widely available in grocery stores, though there are also great local options at the Greenmarkets. I strongly advise against using canned.
This is a great recipe for folks who like to really taste the sweet potatoes, and who prefer their pie be very smooth and creamy. For those of you who enjoy this pie on the sweeter side of the spectrum, consider dialing up the brown sugar by 50 grams or so.