Thanksgiving is a special holiday in the Kapustein household. In previous years, preparing for Thanksgiving was a week-long process of deep cleaning the house and refrigerator, shopping, and, of course, baking.
We baked everyone’s favorite desserts – cheesecake, apple pie, pumpkin pie, and especially, sweet potato pie – the night before. Oven space was limited, which meant you would often find sweet potatoes roasting with other Thanksgiving staples. So much time went into these pies – roasting, mashing, mixing, baking, and chilling. Slicing through the soft custard topped with whipped cream was the perfect ending to a perfect family meal.
This year, our Thanksgiving will be a bit different. We will probably not be with our extended family. A huge meal might be overkill. How can we still make this Thanksgiving special? We can try with dessert.
Although we’ll have fewer people at our house for Thanksgiving, we still want to eat all our favorite desserts. Get creative and combine them. I combined elements of a cheesecake with my favorite pie to make a sweet potato pie with chocolate almond crust. See the recipe below.
This year, don’t feel like you have to do it all. I encourage you to improvise, much like the jazz music of Miles Davis and Charlie Parker playing in the background of my kitchen. As I suggest in the recipe, you can use almond flour or hazelnut flour, depending on what you have on hand. Both work and each adds a different level of complexity to the dish (hazelnut flour is a bit nuttier than almond flour). You can follow the recipe the way it is written or add something you think will work better.
This is definitely a choose-your-own-adventure year, but it’s the family memories that mean the most. Experiment and create a new dessert that becomes a family-favorite for future Thanksgivings to come.
Sweet Potato Pie with Chocolate Almond Crust
- 2 cups almond or hazelnut flour
- 2 tsp coconut oil or butter
- ½ cup semisweet dairy-free chocolate chips
- ¼ tsp salt
For the filling
- 4-5 medium-sized sweet potatoes or yams
- ½ cup of nut or oat milk
- 3 eggs
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- Zest and juice of half an orange
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ¼ tsp nutmeg
- ¼ tsp salt
Preheat oven to 400°.
To make the filling, clean the sweet potatoes and, using a fork or paring knife, poke holes into the potatoes to create air pockets. Place on a baking sheet and roast for 45-50 minutes, until a knife passes through easily. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely, then peel off and discard the skins.
Lower oven temperature to 300° and have a 9-inch spring form pan nearby.
To make the crust, in a skillet slowly toast the flour over low heat, stirring constantly so it does not burn, about 5-6 minutes for hazelnut flour and 10-12 minutes for almond flour. Once the flour starts to smell like popcorn, turn off the heat and add the chocolate, oil or butter, and salt. Continue to stir until the chocolate is melted and everything is combined into a course crumb. Dump the mixture into the bottom of the spring form pan and press down evenly across the bottom and about an inch up the sides. The mixture is still warm, so use the bottom of a cup if you are sensitive to heat.
Make the filling by combining the nut or oat milk, eggs, brown sugar, vanilla, orange juice and zest, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt, and peeled and cooled potatoes in a blender or using a hand mixer. Blend until smooth and pour into the crust.
Place pie in the oven on the middle rack and bake for 50-55 minutes or until the center is set. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly, then refrigerate for four hours or overnight.
Slice and serve with whipped coconut cream, made with vanilla and a touch of maple syrup. Add roasted almonds for crunch.
Photos by Kimberly Kapustein.
NOTE: This article was published in October 2020 Connections, featuring “Homebound Holidays in the Highlands: Celebrating Together, Apart in Issaquah Highlands.” Stories were provided by the Issaquah Highlands Cross-Cultural Committee. Read more stories in this series here.