Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Bahamian Sweet Potato Pie – a great stand-in for Pumpkin Pie for the holidays

One year when we lived in the islands I couldn’t find canned pumpkin for pumpkin pie at the grocery store, so I substituted freshly cooked and mashed sweet potatoes for the pumpkin and it quickly became our favorite “pumpkin” pie. It can fool most tasters and when people compliment you on your pumpkin pie, just smile and say thanks. I’ve read this year that canned pumpkin is in short supply, so it is an excellent time to give this Bahamian Sweet Potato Pie a try. Feel free to use cooked or canned pumpkin in you like. In case you’re wondering, the Bahamians do not, of course, celebrate our American Thanksgiving, but they were always pleased to be invited to our home to share our Thanksgiving feast.

I adapted this recipe from a wonderful island cookbook, Gourmet Bahamian Cooking by Marie Mendelson and Marguerite Sawyer from Green Turtle Cay in Abaco, The Bahamas. Their recipe was Molasses Pumpkin Pie. They called for one-half cup of light molasses, but I used half molasses and half maple syrup. My liquor of choice is Myers Dark Rum, but a good Bourbon works well also.

I’m sure you’ve seen the fall piecrust cutters on the cover of the Thanksgiving edition of the Williams-Sonoma catalog or in their stores. There are four patterns: bay leaf, maple, acorn and oak leaves. I’m not a great baker and especially not the best pie decorator, but thanks to these cutters my pie looked very pretty. I was even able to hide the inevitable crack that always seems to occur somewhere. At Williams-Sonoma's website there’s even a video showing you how to use them. You can make them in advance, freeze them on a sheet pan covered with parchment paper, and remove from the freezer in time for them to thaw before you need them. I’m also told they are attractive on a wheel of brie, for instance, all during the year, so they aren’t just for the holiday season. You could also use them to decorate a Beef Wellington. They would also make a nice gift because it's not often you can find such a fun "foodie" present for under twenty dollars.

We’ve been traveling the last couple of weeks and just returned home after putting 2000 miles on the car along with helping my husband’s father celebrate his 97th birthday. My pie baking has been more last minute this year than I had wished and this was posted much later than I had originally planned. I hope that each of you have a wonderful holiday season and a happy Thanksgiving.

Bahamian Rummy Sweet Potato Pie
Adapted from Gourmet Bahamian Cooking by Mendelson & Sawyer

1 9” unbaked pie shell for pie itself
Separate 9” unbaked pie shell for fall pie crust decorations, optional but nice
3 eggs, slightly beaten
1 ½ cups freshly cooked and mashed sweet potato
1/3 cup sugar
1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup molasses
¼ cup maple syrup
1 can (12 ounce) evaporated skimmed milk
¼ cup dark rum or bourbon
1 beaten egg with 2 tsp. water for egg wash for the pastry leaves if using

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. (If you plan to make the decorative leaves, roll out the second crust and cut the leaves according to the package decorations and place them on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and set aside in the refrigerator.)

Fit the unbaked pie shell in a pie pan. In a large bowl, beat the eggs slightly. Add sweet potatoes, sugar, and seasonings; blend well. Slowly add the molasses, maple syrup and evaporated skimmed milk, stirring until well mixed. Add liquor. Pour into the pie shell.

Baked in a preheated 425 degree F oven for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. (If using the decorative leaves around the edges, remove the pie from the oven and decorate the edges. Brush the leaves with an egg wash (1 beaten egg mixed with 2 teaspoons water) Bake the pie for 40 minutes longer or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. Yield: 6 to 8 servings.

If you want to decorate the top of the pie with the leaves, brush remaining leaves with egg wash and bake on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper in a 375 degree F oven for 10 to 15 minutes, taking care not to burn them. When pastry is cooled, decorate the top of the pie with the leaves.

As a post script I wanted to share with you that there must be something in our house that doesn't like Thanksgiving. Last year the septic system backed up and we had to call one of our guests and ask if we could bring everything to her house to cook and also would she mind we dined there also. An embarrassing moment, but thankfully our friend said yes and even invited us to spend the night. This year the dishwasher is on the fritz. C'est la vie. I hope each of you have a wonderful Thanksgiving.


  1. great pie i missed your posts oh yep France has a magic in its food!
    Happy Thanksgiving classy lady

    Love Rebecca

  2. Those pie crust cutters are so cute. They make it look like a magazine!

    Happy Thanksgiving.

  3. I have eaten a sweet potato pie in the past and it was wonderful. Nice recipe and great memories for you. Have a wonderful day.

  4. I make SP every year, instead of pumpkin a childhood love from my grandmother...

    I love those cutter for the pie crust since I am not the best I admit at making thumb marks!

    Hope you have a wonderful holiday!

  5. The pie sounds wonderful and your crust is truly elegant!

    I'm trying something different this year -- frozen pumpkin mousse in a pecan crust. Keeping my fingers crossed.

  6. Once upon a time had a sweet potato pie and loved it. I will have to give yours a whirl - oh it is tempting me now. Congrats on your trip and your father's 97th! How beautiful. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

  7. Your pie sounds delicious and looks beautiful!

  8. The combination of molasses, maple syrup and dark rum had me from the get go. Sam, this sounds wonderful! Thanks for the heads-up re the pastry cutters. I haven't seen the latest catalogue. Have a wonderful holiday.

  9. I want to pick at that lovely crust, mmmmm!! Happy Thanksgiving my friend!!!

  10. I love pies with a touch of bourbon or rum. I also went the sweet potato route this year, as I had several pounds from the farm. I can't wait to taste the result, although the little sampling I did last night was promising! Happy Thanksgiving, Sam!

  11. When I was in San Francisco the leaf pie cutters at Williams/Sonoma were a big hit with me, so were their gold sugar flakes for Christmas. Sweet potato may even be better than pumpkin for that "what did you use in this pie" taste.Add rum and voila!!!!

  12. Bahamian sweet potatoes in a pie...sounds amazing! After your description and photo, you know I'm going to have to make this!

    Happy Thanksgiving!!

  13. Sounds divine. I really do miss Thanksgiving. I hope yours is filled with joy. We all know it will be filled with fabulous food.


  14. Waw,...Sam!! Your alternative festive sweet potato pie sounds heavenly & very festive to me!!

    MMMMMM,...I wish you & your family a Happy Thanks Giving!! Enjoy!

  15. The pie sounds delicious. And it's not like we can't try it for Christmas or New Year's Day. :) Hope you had fun on your travels. Happy Thanksgiving!

  16. I miss your posts, I'm glad to hear you are back! Your pie sounds delicious, I love the addition of rum!

    I hope your family and you have a delcious and happy Thanksgiving!

  17. This sounds delicious (and if looks are any indication...!) and not as high calorie as many sweet potato pies.

    I'll try it!

  18. This is serendipity: I was contemplating of using sweet potatoes and there I got my recipe! Thank you!

    Happy Thanksgiving and thank you for your wonderful blog and the delicious recipes you share with us. ;-)

    I still have a couple of Thanksgiving brochures from Williams Sonoma (I sadly left my catalogue collection behind, moving is such a disruption in one's life!) and bought the leaf cutters there some years ago. They are really useful.

  19. Happy Thanksgiving, Sam.

    My husband would love this pie. Sweet potato pie is his favorite.

  20. I love Sweet Potato Pie. When I was in the hospital, the cafeteria had the best Sweet Potato Pie and every day I had my husband bring me a piece!

  21. Rum, maple syrup and molasses would work magic on a pie. This looks sooooo good.

  22. Sam,
    I am printing this out and making it for next Thanksgiving!
    It is gorgeous!
    Happy Turkey Day!

  23. I have sampled sweet potato pie but never made it...this sounds delicious! I am motivated even though it is after Turkey Day! Thank you for sharing.

  24. Belated Happy Thanksgiving, Sam! I love this recipe, and I just copied it. I'm crazy about sweet potatoes, so this sounds perfect to me. Thank you for sharing.

    Hope you're having a good weekend and resting from the feast on Thursday. I'm still feeling a bit full. ;-)



    P.S. I love Fostoria crystal... it's so elegant. I'm sorry that yours didn't make it. This last Christmas and spring after years of not breaking but maybe one or two pieces and hand washing carefully, I had someone helping me who chipped five of my goblets and set up a table of champagne glasses (in patterns I loved and had collected over the years) on the brick-floored porch behind my French door. Hence, not knowing it was there, I smacked the door into the table and sent crystal flying. If I didn't love this person so much, I would have had her scalp! LOL! But things happen when you are doing large parties, and she pulled my feet out of the fire a couple of times when I was late getting things going due to one thing or another. So, it all comes out in the proverbial wash. I can replace crystal (even though mine is discontinued), but I can't replace friends. :-)

  25. That is a beautiful pie and not too far off the sweet potato pie of my youth. GREG

  26. Your pie has be drooling, and planning to head to Price Rite for some sweet potatoes and molasses. We've got the rum and the maple syrup is in custom's in Marsh Harbour, to be delivered to us this week!

    Now an interesting thing - in church last weekend in Hope Town Vernon said that four countries DO celebrate Thanksgiving. First is Canada, since we do it in October (around the harvest) and the other three were - the US, the Bahamas and the Phillipines! We never knew.

    Our house south of Hope Town is to be finished by February 1st. We're renting two months to make all the big decisions. :-)

    Happy holiday season to you and yours!

  27. Ive never made a sweet potato pie, this sounds delish with the maple and rum.

    Can't even imagine the panic that would ensue with a septic tank issue. Have sewers here in nj.

  28. I LOVE sweet potatoes .. my problem is most French don't! I'd love to make this pie, sounds delicious and looks beautiful!

  29. This sounds like a wonderful version of sweet potato pie. I shall have to try it.
    Your blog looks wonderful, and delicious!

  30. The sweet potato pie sounds amazing with rum! I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

  31. My husband would absolutely adore this pie. It is gorgeous as well! I hope you had a very Happy Thanksgiving.

  32. This sweet potato pie looks yummie with the rum in it...hope you had a nice Thanksgiving :-)

  33. I enjoy sweet potatoes any way they can be served. It's been a while since i had a sweet potato pie. I love your embellishments, they really make your look beautiful. The rum really makes it festive!

  34. My mom has been always using Myers Dark Rum whenever she bakes cakes that need rum :)

    I love the way you decorate your pumpkin pie, Sam... It really represented autumn :)

  35. Absolutely beautiful pie!! Love the various leaf cutters.



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