Bourbon Sweet Potato Pie with Molasses Meringue

Bourbon Sweet Potato Pie with Molasses Meringue
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Welcome to the final dish of my 2021 Holiday Menu and my last post before Christmas. And what a recipe to go out on. This Bourbon Sweet Potato Pie features a slightly savory pecan-studded crust, a velvety bourbon-spiked filling, and a crown of toasted molasses meringue. This pie hits all the festive notes. Warm, cozy, and boozy with a dash of nutmeg for good measure. Now, obviously, this dish breaks with the seafood theme of my holiday menu. But I figure you’ll forgive me this slight deviation from the rules because a seafood dessert is hard to come by. And a good seafood dessert seems impossible. But prove me wrong. I would love nothing more.

This Bourbon Sweet Potato Pie is exceptionally make-ahead friendly. The only portion of this recipe that needs to be made the day off is the meringue. And the meringue is more than capable of hanging out for a few hours at room temperature prior to serving. The pie itself can easily be made up to 2 days ahead. You need the pie to be fully cooled before adding the meringue anyway, so save yourself a potential time-crunch and make it well before the first guest arrives.

But I’m getting ahead of myself, let’s talk about actually making the pie. One of the common problems with sweet potato and pumpkin pies is their soggy bottoms. I address this by blind baking my crust prior to adding my filling. In the end, the pie will spend roughly an hour and a half in the oven, which admittedly sounds like a lot. But trust me, it needs it. Bonus! You can roast your sweet potatoes and blind bake your crust in tandem.

And yes, I like to roast my potatoes for this pie. I mentioned why I do this in my previous post but I will give you the cliff notes version here. Roasting the potatoes removes excess moisture resulting in a fluffier interior. I find boiling veg actually water logs them, which I’m not about. From there, the filling is nothing more than stirring. You could involve your toddler in this, it’s far from rocket science.

Bourbon Sweet Potato Pie with Molasses Meringue

Now, let’s talk meringue. This portion of the recipe is definitely not for toddlers because it involves very hot sugar. To make this molasses meringue, we’re going to use the Italian method, which involves heating sugar to 240°F prior to slowly whisking it into foamy egg whites. It’s a hot delicate process best accomplished with a stand mixer. I know you can see me using a hand mixer in the video below, but I did that for demonstrative purposes. When I’m not teaching, my preference is to use a stand mixer because it keeps me safer from potential hot sugar splashes.

Once the meringue is in place, create a series of swoops using the back of your spoon. This is honestly, my favorite part. I could swoop meringue until the cows come home. From here, you can serve it as is or you can toast the meringue with a torch. I always opt to torch my meringue, it makes it taste like toasted marshmallows. But honestly, this molasses meringue has such a lovely warm hue and flavor that if you don’t have a kitchen torch handy, your meringue will be no worse for wear.

So that’s everything you need to know about this Bourbon Sweet Potato Pie with Molasses Meringue. The perfect sweet send-off for my 2021 Holiday Menu. If you have any lingering questions about putting this pie together, I encourage you to check out the video below. I will be back after Christmas with a few easy New Year recipes.

Merry Christmas to all who are celebrating!

Bourbon Sweet Potato Pie with Molasses Meringue

Bourbon Sweet Potato Pie with Molasses Meringue

This Bourbon Sweet Potato Pie features a pecan-studded crust, a silky bourbon-spiked sweet potato filling, and a crown of toasted molasses meringue.
Prep Time 45 mins
Cook Time 1 hr 30 mins
Chilling Time 2 hrs
Course Dessert
Servings 8

Equipment

  • 9" Pie Plate
  • Stand or hand mixer
  • Small Baking Sheet
  • Candy Thermometer
  • small saucepan
  • Kitchen Torch

Ingredients
  

Pecan Pastry

  • 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp granulated sugar
  • ¼-½ tsp kosher salt **
  • ½ cup roasted unsalted pecans coarsely chopped
  • ½ cup unsalted butter cut into cubes
  • ¼ cup cold water

Bourbon Sweet Potato Filling

  • 3 medium0sized sweet potatoes scrubbed
  • 2 large eggs room temperature
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger grated
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ½ tsp ground cardamom
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter melted
  • cups half and half
  • ¼ cup bourbon

Molasses Meringue

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 tbsp fancy molasses
  • 4 large egg whites room temperature
  • ½ tsp cream of tartar

Instructions
 

For the Pecan Pastry

  • Pour the all-purpose flour into a large bowl. Add the sugar, salt, and pecans and whisk to combine.
    1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour, 1 tbsp granulated sugar, ¼-½ tsp kosher salt **, ½ cup roasted unsalted pecans
  • To this mixture add the butter. Toss the cubes lightly with your hands to ensure they are coated in flour. Roll the cubes through your thumbs and index fingers to create thin sheets of butter. Keep working the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. ***
    ½ cup unsalted butter
  • Once the butter is rubbed into the flour, add the water. Only add as much water as you need to get the dough to come together. You might not need it all. The dough shouldn’t be uniform, it should be a bit of a shaggy mess.
    ¼ cup cold water
  • Transfer the dough to the counter and lightly knead it into a ball. Just knead it enough to get it to hold together. Form the dough into a ball and press it into a disc. Chill the dough for an hour.
  • Roll the pastry out to about a 1/8 of an inch thickness. Line a 9-inch pie plate with the pastry, and using your thumb and index fingers, crimp the edges. Place the pie plate in the freezer and chill for 30 minutes. Now is a good time to preheat the oven to 400°F
  • Once the 30 minutes have passed, dock the pastry and cover it with parchment paper. Fill the center with dried beans and place the crust in the oven. Bake for 25-30 minutes on the lower rack to encourage browning on the bottom and discourage too much browning up top. Take the crust out of the oven and let cool slightly before removing the beans.

For the Filling

  • Place the potatoes on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and prick them all over with a fork. Transfer the potatoes to the middle rack and roast for one hour.
    3 medium0sized sweet potatoes
  • Take the potatoes out of the oven, and turn the oven off. We want the temperature to fall for 350°F, so hopefully, it will do just that while we make the filling. Set the potatoes aside until cool enough to handle. Slice down the center lengthwise and remove the skin. They should come off quite easily. 
  • Transfer the potatoes to a large bowl. Mash the potatoes until quite smooth. Whisk in one room temperature egg until fully integrated. Add another egg and again, whisk until fully integrated. 
    2 large eggs
  • Add the light brown sugar, fresh ginger, ground cinnamon, ground ginger, nutmeg, ground cardamom, and salt. Pour in the melted unsalted butter and mix until combined. Pour in the half and half and stir until well integrated. Finally, add a 1/4 cup of bourbon and stir once again.
    ½ cup light brown sugar, 1 tsp fresh ginger, 1 tsp ground cinnamon, ½ tsp ground ginger, ½ tsp ground nutmeg, ½ tsp ground cardamom, ½ tsp kosher salt, 2 tbsp unsalted butter, 1½ cups half and half, ¼ cup bourbon
  • Pour the filling into the pie shell. **** Smooth the surface of the pie and place it in a 350°F oven. Bake for 55 minutes or until set on the edges but still a little soft in the center. Set the pie aside to cool completely.

For the Meringue

  • Pour the sugar, water, and molasses. Stir to combine. Place mixture over high heat and cook until the mixture registers a temperature of 240°F.
    1 cup granulated sugar, ½ cup water, 1 tbsp fancy molasses
  • While the sugar mixture is cooking, add the cream of tartar to the egg whites and whisk until soft peaks form. This will require you to divide your attention, so you can keep an eye on the progress of both. 
    4 large egg whites, ½ tsp cream of tartar
  • Once your sugar mixture has reached its target temperature, whisk it into the eggs whites in a slow continuous stream. This mixture is extremely hot, so try to keep your fingers clear as best you can.
  • Once the meringue is whipped, pile it onto the pie, and using the back of a spoon, create a series of pleasing swoops. Use a culinary torch to toast the meringue and serve.

Notes

**You can walk back the amount of salt you use here. I like my pastry to be on the edge of savory to provide contrast against the sweet filling. But if you’re more of a sweet person, cut the salt in half. The pastry will be no worse for wear.
***Working with cold hands yields the best results, so if your hands run hot place them under cold water for a few minutes before plunging in. Even with cold hands, we want to be quick and efficient.
****You might have filling leftover. How much filling you have will depend on the size of the sweet potatoes your selected. If you do have leftover filling, you can pour it into ramekins and bake them alongside the pie for 20 minutes or until set.
Keyword bourbon, meringue, molasses, pastry, pecans, Sweet Potato

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