Fri | Dec 9, 2016

Thanksgiving Sweet treats

Published:Thursday | November 27, 2014 | 12:00 AMElizabeth Karmel
(AP Photo/Matthew Mead) The key to a great sweet potato pie is using fresh sweet potatoes.
(AP Photo/Matthew Mead) Fluffy sweet potato-bourbon pie with gingered whipped cream and toasted pecans
Associated Press Spiced pumpkin cannoli
Associate Press Instead of having to fuss with a pie crust, with this dessert simply purchase prepared cannoli shells, which are easily filled with the pumpkin filling.
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As much as I love a classic pumpkin pie, I have to be honest - my heart belongs to sweet potato pie.

Both are rich and warmly spiced. Both go wonderfully with whipped cream (particularly whipped cream that has been hit with a splash of bourbon). And both ooze warmth and family celebration. But for me, sweet potato pie is just a bit more complex, a bit more satisfying, and a whole lot more Southern.

The key to a great sweet potato pie is using fresh sweet potatoes. You can't skip this step. Canned sweet potatoes do not work well in this pie. Furthermore, don't boil your sweet potatoes. Boiling produces a pie filling that is watery and diluted. You want to roast the potatoes, which concentrates the natural sugars and intensifies the flavour.

Once the potatoes are baked, they need to be processed in order to produce a silky texture. In the past, I peeled the hot sweet potatoes and ran them through a food mill to remove all the tough fibre. But these days, few people own food mills. I also thought that it was a pity to remove the nutrient-rich fibre from the potato.

So I decided to try the food processor, which also let me add the other filling ingredients at the same time. It was so easy and fast, I loved it. The food processor created an ethereal fluffy texture, and it was the best sweet potato pie I'd ever eaten or made!

Start to finish: 21/2 hours (30 minutes active)

Servings: 10

2 to 3 large sweet potatoes (11/2 to 2 pounds)

5tbs unsalted butter, melted

3 large eggs

3/4 cup heavy cream

2 tbs bourbon

1 generous teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp kosher salt

1/4 tsp grated nutmeg

1/4 tsp ground dry ginger

Pinch ground cloves

10-inch graham cracker pie crust, homemade or store-bought

For the topping:

1 cup heavy cream

2tbs granulated sugar

1/2 tsp ground dry ginger

Toasted pecans, to garnish

Method:

n Heat the oven to 425?F. Wash and dry the sweet potatoes, then pierce them on top with a fork. Set the sweet potatoes on a baking sheet and roast until soft - about 1 hour, or until you can see juices bubbling where you pricked the potatoes. Set aside until cool enough to handle.

n Once the potatoes have cooled, peel and roughly chop them. Measure out a generous two cups of the flesh, then transfer to a food processor. Process for two minutes, or until very smooth.

n With the processor running, add the melted butter, eggs, cream, bourbon and vanilla. The mixture should begin to look light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then add both sugars, the cinnamon, salt, nutmeg, ginger and cloves. Process again to combine and fully incorporate the final ingredients.

n Place the prepared pie crust on a baking sheet, then transfer the sweet potato mixture into it. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until the filling jiggles just slightly at the centre. Let cool to room temperature.

n When ready to serve, prepare the gingered whipped cream. In a large bowl, combine the cream, sugar and ginger. Use a whisk or electric mixer to whip until stiff peaks form. Mound the whipped cream over the cooled pie, then sprinkle with toasted pecans.

Editors's Note: Elizabeth Karmel is a barbecue and Southern foods expert. She is the chef and pitmaster at online retailer Barbecue Shack and author of three books, including Taming the Flame.

Who says the Thanksgiving pumpkin dessert has to be a pie? We decided to tinker with tradition just a bit by turning the usual pumpkin pie filling into cannoli. Same great taste, whole new packaging.

Not only is this an impressive, finger food-friendly way to get a pumpkin dessert on the table, it's also easy. You simply purchase prepared cannoli shells, which are easily filled with the pumpkin filling. It all comes together in just minutes. We suggest garnishing the ends of the cannoli with chopped pistachios or chocolate, but feel free to improvise with whatever toppings inspire you. Chopped candied pecans would be particularly good.

Ingredients

Start to finish: 20 minutes, plus cooling time

Makes 15 large or 30 miniature cannoli

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp ground dry ginger

1/4 tsp nutmeg

3 eggs

15-ounce can pumpkin purÈe

1 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese

30 miniature or 15 large purchased

cannoli shells

Chopped pistachios or chopped dark chocolate (optional)

Method

n In a medium saucepan off the heat, whisk together the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. Add the eggs and whisk until smooth. Last, whisk in the pumpkin purÈe.

n Set the pan over medium heat and, whisking constantly, bring to a simmer. Cook until the mixture thickens, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the ricotta. Set aside and allow to fully cool.

n When the pumpkin mixture has cooled, spoon it into a zip-close plastic bag and snip one corner. Gently squeeze the bag to pipe the mixture into the cannoli shells. Once each shell is filled, gently press both ends of each into the chopped pistachios or chocolate to lightly coat the exposed filling. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Can be prepped 2 hours ahead of time.