KATIE WORKMAN 

Associated Press

Editor’s Note: SMDP will be providing recipe hints and recommendations in the coming weeks to help you plan your holiday season. 

In some areas of the country, especially the South, sweet potatoes make regular appearances at the end of the meal, yet for many of us elsewhere, it’s a surprise to encounter them in dessert form.

But they are called sweet potatoes for a reason!

This comforting, pretty and very simple pie makes a nice alternative to the more traditional pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving.

It’s made even easier if you take the shortcut of using a refrigerated crust — one of the best inventions ever, in this casual pie maker’s opinion. But if you have a pie crust recipe you like, please feel free to use it here.

And while I tout the marvels of refrigerated pie crust, I should also mention that homemade whipped cream is simple to make, and few things delight more than a hefty billow of sweet whipped cream on a pie.

Although their names are sometimes used interchangeably, there are differences between a sweet potato and a yam. Yams are from a different botanical family, and are generally larger, starchier and drier than sweet potatoes. Save yams for the savory dishes.

The best sweet potatoes are the small to medium ones, which are sweet and creamy. Larger ones tend to be starchier. They should be firm and free of bruises or breaks, and their skin should be smooth.

Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of the antioxidant beta carotene (choose ones with darker skins for more of it), and also contain high levels of Vitamin C and potassium.

Making the filling of this pie is simple, once you bake and mash the sweet potatoes.

Oh and if you are lucky to have any leftovers, be sure to tuck a piece in a secret spot in the fridge – I can’t think of a better post-Thanksgiving breakfast.

EASY SWEET POTATO PIE

Serves 8

3 medium sweet potatoes, about 1 1/2 pounds

1 refrigerated pie crust for a 9-inch pie

3 large eggs

Grated zest of 1 orange

⅔ cup sugar

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground ginger

½ teaspoon salt

1 cup heavy cream

Sweetened Whipped Cream to serve

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Prick the sweet potatoes in several places with a fork, and bake them right on the rack for 1 1/2 hours, until very soft. Leave the oven on. Remove and cool the potatoes until they are just slightly warm, then peel the skins off, and puree in a food processor or blender, or pass them through a ricer, and place in a large bowl. You should have about 1 ¼ to 1 ½ cups puree.

Unroll the prepared pie crust and fit it into a 9-inch pie plate. Attractively crimp the edges of the crust. (Or if you’ve purchased a pre-made pie crust already in the pan, skip this step).

For the filling, in a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and orange zest. Whisk in the pureed sweet potatoes, and then add the sugar, cinnamon, ginger and salt, and whisk into the sweet potato mixture until blended. Slowly whisk in the cream until well combined. Pour the filling into the prepared pie crust.

Bake the pie for about 50 to 60 minutes, until the filling is set. You can test this by inserting a sharp knife near the center; when it comes out clean, the pie is done. The pie will be a bit puffed up when it comes out of the oven, and then sink slightly as it cools.

Cool the pie completely on a wire rack. You can serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days.

Oh, and while the pie is cooling, whip that cream!

Serve the pie sliced, with whipped cream if desired.