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Brown Butter Sweet Potato Pie

Courtesy Erin Rae Lucas, chef/co-owner, Model Citizen, New London, MN

With a classic crust and custard that’s packed with warming spices, this dessert offers a slight twist on the perennial favorite. This recipe comes from Model Citizen in Minnesota. In addition to regular lunch and dinner service, the facility is home to a nonprofit teaching kitchen and agricultural center for teens to learn to farm, harvest, cook and repurpose food scraps.

Brown Butter Sweet Potato Pie Ingredients

6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup light brown sugar
½ cup heavy cream
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1⅔ cup sweet potato purée (from 2–3 large sweet potatoes)
½ teaspoon ground allspice
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon molasses
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 cup evaporated milk
1 parbaked pie shell (ingredients and directions below)

Brown Butter Sweet Potato Pie Directions

Heat oven to 325˚F. In heavy-bottomed skillet, brown butter over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally. Add brown sugar, whisk, and add 2 tablespoons water to loosen. Bring to boil, then lower heat to simmer. Cook until candy thermometer registers 225˚F, or mixture smells like caramel and begins to darken. Remove from heat, slowly add heavy cream, and whisk until smooth. Let cool at least 10 minutes. Add vanilla, and mix to combine.

In small stainless-steel bowl, whisk eggs, yolks and salt. Set aside.

In food processor, blend sweet potato purée with spices, molasses and lemon juice until smooth. With machine running, slowly stream in brown butter, followed by egg mixture and evaporated milk. Blend until smooth, stopping once or twice to scrape sides of bowl.

Strain through fine-mesh sieve, then pour into pie shell. Bake on middle rack of oven, and rotate halfway through. Cook until edges are completely set, but pie remains slightly jiggly in the center, about 45–55 minutes. Cool completely before serving. Serves 8–10.

Pie Shell Ingredients

2½ cups all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 sticks plus 2 tablespoons very cold butter (preferably European style), small cubed

Pie Shell Directions

In large stainless-steel bowl, whisk together flour, sugar and salt. Add butter cubes, and toss gently to coat. Working quickly with pastry blender or hands, gently cut and rub butter to work into flour mixture.

When butter pieces are pea-sized or smaller, add 1/2 cup ice-cold water. Using hands, fold flour mixture into water. When dough starts to come together, knead together gently with palms. Form dough into ball, wrap in plastic wrap and let rest in refrigerator overnight.

On floured surface, use rolling pin to shape dough into ¼-inch-thick circle with 10-inch diameter. Cover 9-inch pie plate with dough gently. Use back of hand to press gently into creases of pan. The dough should hang over sides of pan. Use fork or pinch to crimp excess dough even with edge of pan. Let rest in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, up to overnight.

To parbake, heat oven to 350˚F. Cover dough with aluminum foil and fill with baking beans or weights. Bake until edges are set, but not browned, about 20 minutes.

Pair It

Marco de Bartoli 2012 Bukkuram Padre della Vigna (Passito di Pantelleria). Gretchen Skedsvold, co-owner of Henry & Son, a Minnesota bottle shop dedicated to sustainable and low-intervention wines, recommends Marco de Bartoli Bukkuram Padre della Vigna Passito di Pantelleria, made from 100% sun-dried Zibibbo grapes grown on volcanic soils. “When I think sweet potatoes, I think of…recipes with warm spices and nuts, and honey and yogurt,” she says. “[This wine] with concentrated honeyed notes and skin-fermented, tannic structure, not to mention Mediterranean terroir, immediately come to mind.”