Purple Sweet Potato Pie with a mound of an Italian meringue inspired by Esther Williams (anyone younger than me will have to google her). I was gifted a box of super fun produce by my friend Chadwick Boyd and in the selection from Frieda’s were a pair of bright purple sweet potatoes. I knew immediately that they would be pie.
With Thanksgiving just a couple days away, how could my mind go anywhere else with such a fun bounty?! The real surprise came with the topping. Sweet potatoes with marshmallows has been a regular on many Thanksgiving tables, so it seemed natural to pile on meringue and toast it like a marshmallow (a pile of whipped cream would be super tasty too).
What I hadn’t planned on was the color. I had reserved the bright purple cooking water after boiling the potatoes, because it was just too pretty to throw away. I typically use a Swiss meringue on a pie, but the Italian version requires making a syrup of sugar and water, which meant I could use my potato water (BOOM, that’s how I’d tint my meringue purple). I had visions of a lavender colored cloud sitting on top of the pie, but when I added the boiling purple syrup to the spinning egg whites it turned bright, bright, bright blue. I’m not entirely sure why, but some chemical reaction in that bowl changed my vision for this pie. I was faced with a bowl of super soft, BLUE meringue and I went for it. I piled it on and then used a star tip to create the swimming cap of a topping (did you look up Esther Williams yet?)
Do you have pie questions or need to troubleshoot your recipe? Check out my guide on how to make pie crust.
- 2 cups (400g) sugar
- 1 tbsp corn syrup
- 3/4 cup purple sweet potato cooking water strained through a fine mesh sieve
- 6 egg whites
- 1/2 tsp cardamom extract
- 1 egg beaten (for brushing crust)
- Heat oven to 325°F.
- To make the filling: In a large bowl, whisk together the sweet potato puree, evaporated milk, sour cream, sugar, salt, extracts and eggs. Pour into the blind baked pie shell and paint the edge of the crust with the egg wash.
- Bake the pie for about 75 minutes (may take longer depending on the temperature of the ingredients when they go in the oven) or until the sides start to puff and the middle is set, but still slightly wobbly. Cool completely, about 3 hours. The pie will be easier to cut once completely cool or refrigerated.
- Prepare this and pile on JUST BEFORE SERVING! In a small sauce pan fitted with a Candy Thermometer, bring the sugar, purple potato water and corn syrup to a boil over medium-high heat. If any of the sugar crystals get onto the side of the pan, be sure to wipe them down with a wet clean pastry brush. The sugar needs to cook until it hits 248° F on the thermometer. This takes several minutes. Once the sugar syrup has reached 235° F, whip the egg whites in your stand mixer until they are medium peaks.
- Once the sugar reaches the final temperature of 248°F, slowly pour it into the bowl of whipped egg whites while the beater is going on slow. Be sure to pour it along the bowl so that the hot syrup doesn’t hit the beater and splatter. Allow the eggs and sugar mixture to beat on medium high speed until the meringue is light, fluffy, glossy and bright blue. Add the extract and whip for another 30 seconds.
- Mound half the meringue onto the chilled pie. Pipe the remaining meringue onto the mound to create a pattern. Toast the meringue with a Blow Torch just before serving.