When I was a lowly culinary student at Johnson and Wales University my "externship" (something we all had to do to finish our degree) was in sunny and beautiful Sandestin Resort in Destin Florida. My time there was not only a wonderful experience.... Not just on the cooking end, but also on the people end. The most memorable was the "mamma" of the banquet kitchen, Cozette Blackmon.
Cozette was a little African American woman, with red curly hair, and a gold capped front tooth, who didn't call everyone "baby", but did call me "baby". Cozette ran that kitchen surrounded by big, burley, old men cooks who didn't take (blank) for anyone, and yet turned into five year old little boys being directed by their grandmother when Cozette was speaking to them.
Cozette made this amazingly wonderful and delicious Sweet Potato Pie she brought to the kitchen one Thanksgiving, just for us...the cooks. Like most cooks, especially the young college aged wet behind the ears cooks, we worked holidays. Cozette brought the pies so that we could have our own Thanksgiving, and it was really special.
Up until that day I had never had sweet potato pie; heard of it just never had the pleasure of eating it. Well... I was in heaven. It wasn't the custard-esq squash like pumpkin pie I was use to. This pie was sweet, and dense, had texture from the lumps, and with a crisp flavorful crust. I would forever be a sweet potato pie fan.
When I decided it was time to move back to Oklahoma and get my life going, Cozette was happy for me but you could tell a little sad too. My last day I worked my last shift, my car packed and waiting in the parking lot, and ready to hit the road. Cozette walked me out to my car, with a little tear in her eye she said the most heartfelt genuine farewell I'd had ever heard. "Baby, don't pick up hookers and don't eat all that sweet-potato pie in your back seat before you hit Mobile (Alabama)". She sent me home with four pies, and only half of one remained uneaten by the time I hit Tulsa.
This pie recipe is as close to the flavor and texture as I remember from Cozette's pie; The marshmallow meringue was my idea. I hope you enjoy... Cozette would be tickled.
1 1/2 cups + 2 tablespoons AP flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cold butter, cubed
2 tablespoons cold vegetable shortening, cubed
5 tablespoons ice water. Add more if needed
Sift together the flour, sugar, and salt into a bowl. Begin "rubbing/cutting" in the butter and shortening by hand.... Or use a food processor. The key is keeping everything cold. Blend in the fats with the flour until it resembles course crumbs.
Add in ice water one tablespoon at a time until the dough comes together. Do not overwork the dough. Shape into a ball and place in the fridge at least 30 minutes.
THE FILLING :
2 pounds baked sweet potatoes (3-4 medium size)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 large eggs
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons In The Kitchen With Scotty "More Than Pumpkin Pie" Spice
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons bourbon (I use Jack Daniels "Honey Bourbon")
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cups whole milk
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Pierce the potatoes and roast until tender... About 40 minutes. Now is a good time to roll out your pie crust dough and prebake to a light brown. Remember when prebaking crust, fill with dried beans to keep the dough's form and prevent shrinking.
Reduce the oven to 350 degrees. Scoop out the sweet potato flesh into a bowl. Add the butter and begin mashing. Lumps are not a bad thing, so don't wear yourself out trying to get smooth. Add the nutmeg, and mix in.
In a separate bowl add eggs, both sugars, salt, and vanilla. Mix until smooth. Slowly mix in the milk and bourbon until everything is combined.
Pour the filling into your prebaked pie shell. Place on a cookie sheet, then into the oven. Bake approximately 45 minutes or until the center is set with a slight jiggle.
Remove from the oven and let cool. Let's get to work on the meringue!
3 large egg whites
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Good pinch of salt
1/4 cups sugar
7 ounces marshmallow cream (about a cup)
Whip egg whites until fluffy. Slowly sprinkle in a a bit of the sugar and keep whipping. Keep going until all the sugar is used
Add in the marshmallow and continue whipping until light peak stage
Spread the meringue on top of your pie, making sure the meringue reaches/touches the inner pie crust. This seals the deal. Bake in a 400 degree oven until lightly browned. Let cool and serve. Enjoy!!