Southerners love pie.
I don’t think this is an exaggeration, or even a generalization. It’s truth.
We love making pie, eating pie (obviously!), and especially serving pie to the ones we love. Watching it turn golden brown in our favorite pie plate. Cutting the dough, kneading it. Criss-crossing it over fresh berries and chocolate and cream and nuts and—in this case—sweet potatoes.
Did I mention we love sweet potatoes, too?
North Carolina being the number one producer of sweet potatoes in the country (we even have a state Sweet Potato Commission), it’s perhaps not surprising that the most delicious sweet potato recipe I’ve found to date comes from, well, the restaurant Sweet Potatoes. In Winston-Salem, NC.
I can’t remember when I first tore this recipe out of the Winston-Salem Journal, but it has remained tucked away in an old notebook of mine for years. Adapted from Well Shut My Mouth!: The Sweet Potatoes Restaurant Cookbook, which includes recipes from Chef Stephanie Tyson and and co-owner Vivián Joiner, this is my go-to when I’m in need of something sweet, simple, and Southern.
Or, as is the case with most pies, when I want to show someone I care.
The Perfect Sweet Potato Pie
Makes two 9-inch pies
2 cups cooked and mashed sweet potatoes
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon flour
3 eggs, beaten
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 cup melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon extract
1/4 cup sugar (optional)
1/2 cup water (optional)
2 sliced (peeled) sweet potatoes (optional)
2 unbaked 9-inch pie shells (alternatively, you can make your own)
1. Combine the mashed sweet potatoes with the 1 cup sugar and flour. Stir in the beaten eggs. Add the sweetened, condensed milk and add the cinnamon, nutmeg, butter, vanilla extract, and lemon extract. Mix well.
2. Optional (but worth the effort): Add 1/4 cup sugar and the water to a saucepan. Bring it to a simmer and add sliced sweet potatoes. Cook about 15 minutes, until sweet potatoes are barely tender. Allow sweet potatoes to cool to the touch. Layer slices of sweet potatoes evenly in the two pies.
3. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Evenly divide the filling mixture among the two pie shells. Bake for about 45 minutes or until done. Pies should rise and the middle should no longer look shiny or wet.
I’ve altered this recipe over the years to accommodate gluten allergies and the final product remains the same: comforting and divine.
Best of all? Two pies means one for you and one for another. Choose wisely and warmly. Then top each off with a scoop of whipped cream, and you’re done.
Andrea Fisher is a writer, blogger, and content specialist for Choose Home Security. Her work has been published in The Chicago Tribune and Business Insider, among others. Connect with her on Google+ and Twitter.