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Sweet Potato Pie with Walnut Streusel and No-Roll Pie Crust

  Every year, pumpkin pie makes its way to the table.

  And every year, I've turned up my nose. 

  This is done for two reasons. 

  1) I'm usually stuffing myself with potatoes and turkey.
  2) I just don't like pumpkin pie.

  Oddly enough, even if there's other options like apple, cranberry, or whatever...I still turn them down.  For me, Thanksgiving has never really centered around dessert.  I'm all about the savory.

  When other bloggers started posting about sweet potato and pumpkin-themed desserts, I began to realize how weird my non-dessert Thanksgiving habits were.  I love pie, really!  But...it's Turkey Day.  You know?

  Well, guess what pushed me out of my comfort zone this year?  Sundays with Joy, duh.

  As I scanned the recipe for Joy's sweet potato pie, I really wondered what I was getting myself into.  The texture and appearance were all very similar to that of the dreaded pumpkin, but I decided to trust.  I had to try it!

  When SprinkleBakes posted this awfully decadent-looking thing, I had a revelation.  If texture was what often threw me off, why not add in a little crunch?  Streusel is never a bad move.  Just reeeally keep an eye on it while it's baking!  If the streusel starts getting too dark, cover that baby with foil.  Because, in Heather's own words, burned streusel is crying shame.

  And the crust?  Ridiculously easy!  It's similar to a shortbread layer with it's pressing-into-the-pan technique, but as long as everything stays nice and cold, it turns into a lovely, flaky bottom layer.  No rolling, no shaping, no cracking.  Done.

  And do note, you will end up with some leftover filling.  I had a couple of cups leftover.  Do what you will with that!  Freeze it, make mini pies, pour it into muffin tins...whatever!

  And so, the final verdict.  I don't like sweet potatoes, I don't like pumpkin-like pies, and I'm not a fan of mushy textures.

  Guess what?  I've already had two pieces of this, and I loved every bite!  I honestly don't know if I'd be able to down it without the streusel, the extra texture and flavor really made it for me.  So, for all those picky pie people out there, I hope this makes it onto your Thanksgiving menu!  If it's enough to convince me to save some room, then trust me, it'll be more than enough for you.

  Have a lovely holiday!

Sweet Potato Pie with Walnut Streusel and No-Roll Pie Crust
Yield: one 9-inch pie

Ingredients for the streusel:
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt
  • 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts

Ingredients for the pie:
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes (or 2 cups mashed)
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 (5-ounce) cans evaporated milk (about 1 1/4 cups)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Ingredients for the crust:
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, frozen
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil  
  • 1 tablespoon cream cheese, chilled
  • 2 tablespoons milk

To make the streusel, whisk together the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl.  Add the butter and use your fingers to quickly incorporate, until the mixture is crumbly.  Stir in the nuts.  Cover and store in the fridge until ready for use. 

To make the filling, in a large saucepan over medium heat, boil the sweet potatoes whole, in their skins, until very soft and tender.  A thin, sharp knife should go in without any resistance.  If there is any, boil longer.  Remove from water and allow to cool on a plate.

When cool enough to handle, peel the potatoes (the skins will come right off) and cut into chunks, placing them in a large bowlMash potatoes thoroughly with a masher.  Measure 2 cups of mashed potato and place in a medium-sized pot over medium-low heat.  Add the brown sugar, spices, salt, butter, and 1 can (or half) of the evaporated milk.  Cook for 5 minutes, while whisking, until butter and brown sugar have melted down and the mixture is well blended and starts to bubble.  Remove from heat and allow to cool in the pot.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs with a fork.  Add the remaining evaporated milk, granulated sugar, and vanilla and beat until creamy.  Add the cooled sweet potato mixture to the egg mixture and whisk well.  Mixture can be refrigerated overnight or used immediately.

To make the crust, whisk together the flour, salt, sugar, and baking powder in a medium bowl.  With a cheese grater, grate the frozen butter into the flour mixture.  Add the cream cheese.  Use your fingers to quickly incorporate the butter and cream cheese.  Some butter bits will be the size of oat flakes, others the size of small pebbles.  Mixture will be shaggy.

Whisk together the milk and oil.  Add, all at once, to the butter/flour mixture.  Stir together with a fork, moistening all of the flour with the liquid.  Mixture does not need to come together to form a ball, and will still seem a bit shaggy.  Dump the dough into a clean 9-inch pie plate.  With your fingers, press the dough evenly over the bottom and up the sides.  Don't worry about finger indentations, the crust will bake up smooth.  Place in the freezer while you preheat the oven.

Place a rack in the center of the oven and place a cookie sheet on the rack.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

When oven is ready, pour the filling into the crust until almost full (leave room for streusel!) and place on the cookie sheet in the oven (You'll likely end up with some leftover filling, this is normal!  Rather too much than too little.  Do what you will with the extra.).  Bake for 10 minutes, then lower the oven to 325 degrees F and bake for 25 more minutes.  Quickly top with streusel and bake for 25-35 more minutes, or until the crust is browned and the center has puffed and only shakes slightly.  Keep a wary eye on the streusel.  If it starts to over-brown, tent the pie with a piece of aluminum foil.  Burned streusel is no good.

Remove from oven and allow to cool to room temperature before slicing and serving (I prefer mine chilled).  Lasts, well wrapped in the fridge, for up to 4 days.

Sources: adapted from Joy the Baker's Cookbook and blog, streusel from SprinkleBakes