A Yam from Yam: Sweet Potato Non-Pies

It’s the apocalypse!

Ok, not really. Seems like it though. For the past few days I’ve been hearing about how temps are going to dip to the lowest they’ve been in twenty or something years, and Monday the HIGH is going to be NEGATIVE FIFTEEN DEGREES. Fahrenheit.

Welcome to Chiberia.


Yesterday, in preparation for the upcoming deep freeze I attempted to run some errands, get some groceries and go to Target to buy supplies to occupy all the me time that will be happening in the next few days. This was a horrible decision since I grossly underestimated exactly how bad the roads were, and at one point even considered abandoning my car and taking public transportation home. However, since the current slush will be turning to ice in the next few hours faster than you can say Bob’s your uncle, I figured it was best to plow through.  Hitting up both the Jewel and Target, I walked down aisle upon aisle of empty shelves. Apparently everyone knows that the world is ending, and I slinked back home without eggs.

I just got the word that the office is closed tomorrow, so it’s time to put this forced hibernation to good use. This means two things:  1) binge watching a few new TV series and 2) lots of creativity in the kitchen. The former means that I’m now a Gladiator, addicted to Scandal  (have you seen it? You should). The latter means I’m finishing up what’s left of The Holidays, and moving forward to Japan and beyond.

How many dishes can I make in the next two days with the ingredients I already possess?  Time will tell.

First, the last dish for this year’s holiday tour:  Sweet Potato mini “pies.

Ok, not pies at all. They were meant to be pies, but then I realized that I don’t like pie.

Cake > Pie

However, I had to make this for a few reasons. First, I found sweet potato pie on every single list of Kwanzaa dishes. Second, Yam has been RAVING about her family’s sweet potato pie for as long as I’ve known her (hence her code name, Yam).  For approximately 10 years now I’ve been hearing about this pie, so now was the time to make it.

How I reconcile my dislike of pie for my desire to face the fuss? I simply made crust-less sweet potato custards.


When I asked Yam for a recipe, she said her family’s recipe was a more of “a little of this, a little of that.” Don’t we all know how that goes? She sent me Patti LaBelle’s, claiming it to be similar and probably the next best thing.  It was upon this recipe that I adapted my filling, making it a little less rich, a little less sweet, but no less deep in flavor.  In lieu of that recipe’s black-bottom crust, I kept it plain on the bottom and sprinkled the top of each with a dark brown sugar/crushed gingersnap mixture.  It just so happened that I had some gingers in the freezer and had taken them out to remake the Dutch Hare Stew (with chicken this time), so it was almost like me and these mini non-pies and me were meant to be.

Ok, enough rambling. See what happens when I’ve already been alone in my house for a whole weekend? I suspect these posts will just be getting longer and more rambley.

You’ve been warned.

Makes approximately 6 custard ramekins


3 large sweet potatoes (Louisiana yams), scrubbed, peeled and diced

4 TB butter, melted

½ cup packed light brown sugar

¼ cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs, beaten

¼ cup half-and-half or milk

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground nutmeg

½ tsp vanilla extract

About 6 tsp dark brown sugar

About 6 tsp ground gingersnaps


1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the sweet potatoes and reduce the heat to medium. Cook until the sweet potatoes are tender when pierced with a knife, about 30 minutes.

2.  Drain and run under cold water until cool enough to handle. Mash with an electric mixer on medium speed or use a food processor and process until very smooth. Measure 3 cups mashed sweet potatoes, keeping any extra for another use.

3.  Preheat the oven to 350F.

4.  Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, using an electric mixer on low speed, mix the mashed sweet potatoes, the melted butter and 1/2 cup brown sugar, the granulated sugar, eggs, milk, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Spread into the 6 buttered ramekins, smoothing the top.  Sprinkle 1 tsp of the dark brown sugar and 1 tsp of the gingersnap crumbs onto the top of each one.


5.   Bake until a knife inserted in the center of the filling comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Cool completely. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

6.  Serve with what? Altogether now!


Whipped cream!

I wish it took less than 30 seconds to make this.  Maybe if it was harder I wouldn’t be so obsessed.


To be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I mean, I’ve had pumpkin pie, and in my mind they’re quite similar. However, the potatoes were definitely different enough to make this not taste like pumpkin pie like I suspected it would. Shows what I know. Anyway, a definite keeper!


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