Sweet Potato Pie with Hazelnut Crust

I think Thanksgiving recipes are kind of silly. Each year, there’s an onslaught of ‘new twists on old favorites’. Grapefruit in the cranberry sauce. Andouille in the stuffing. The brines. Oh, the brines. And don’t even get me starting on spatchcocking.
My family keeps it real. Depending on which side of the family we spend the holiday with, it’s a similar story. Roast turkey. Gravy. Stuffing (sometimes from a box…yup), cranberry sauce (homemade and from the can). You know the drill. Sure, there’s always something a little new thrown in, like Brussels sprouts with bacon. But otherwise? Super traditional. And I bet most families feel the same way. It’s the one meal that stays constant (for a reason).

Now, I confess, I do not prepare the Thanksgiving meal for my family. Not yet. So for now, I offer up this pie. It’s reminiscent of pumpkin pie, but somehow, better. The crust is a basic pie dough, with the addition of toasted nuts. You might go so far as to call it a twist on an old favorite, but I’d like to think of it as a new tradition.

Sweet Potato Pie with Hazelnut Crust

From Joy the Baker

Sweet Potato Pie (filling)

2 cups mashed cooked sweet potatoes
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted
2- 5oz cans evaporated milk (1 1/4 cups evaporated milk)
3 large eggs
1 Tablespoon vanilla

Heat oven to 425F. Poke sweet potatoes with a knife and roast until fork tender, about 45 minutes (depending on size of the potatoes). Set aside to cool. This can be done ahead of time.

Peel potatoes, cut into chunks and place in a large bowl. Mash potatoes thoroughly with a potato masher. There should be NO lumps. You can also do this in a food processor.

Measure 2 cups and put in a medium sized pot with the packed brown sugar, all of the spices, salt,  the 1/2 stick butter, and one 5 oz can of evaporated milk. Cook on low flame for about 5 minutes, whipping with a wire whisk until butter and brown sugar are melted down and mixture is well blended, smooth and starts to bubble. Remove from fire and let cool in pot.

In a medium sized bowl, beat the three eggs with a fork. Add the second 5oz can of evaporated milk, granulated sugar and vanilla to the eggs and continue beating until creamy. Pour the cooled sweet potato mixture from pot into a large bowl. Stir  in the egg mixture. Blend thoroughly with a whisk and refrigerate mixture overnight or use immediately.

Hazelnut Crust

1 cup all-purpose flour (preferably unbleached)

Large pinch salt

1/2 cup toasted shelled hazelnuts*, ground

1 stick unsalted butter, cold, cut into chunks

Ice water

Egg, beaten and sugar, for finishing crust

In a food processor, blend the flour, salt and hazelnuts until just combined. Add the butter and pulse, about 10 seconds, until butter is the size of peas. Add a few tablespoons of ice water, pulsing just until mixture comes together with you squeeze it. Transfer to a floured surface and gently form into a disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least 10 minutes (or overnight).

*To toast and shell hazelnuts: spread nuts on a baking sheet and place in a 325F oven. Toast until fragrant, about 10 minutes. Place hazelnuts on one side of a clean dish cloth, fold over, and gently rub, loosening hazelnut skins.
To assemble pie:

Preheat oven to 425F

Roll out crust to form a disk. Place into a 9″ pie plate. If you need to stop for any minute, stick the pie shell in the freezer (you want the dough to remain cold, this keeps it flaky).  Brush a little beaten egg or heavy cream on crust and sprinkle with sugar. When you are ready to bake, add sweet potato filling. Place pie on a baking sheet. Bake at 425F for 10 minutes, then lower oven to 325F and bake for 50-60 minutes or until crust is golden brown and filling is set (not jiggly). Allow to cool before serving.

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