My brother makes pies. Not vegan pies, nor sweet potato pies, but apple raspberry pies. It's been his traditional Thanksgiving contribution for a few years now. His inspiration came from at little gourmet-type shop up near where my parents live. They sell all kinds of goodies, including pies. If I recall correctly, he made his first pie to take to a social event. I can't remember if it was to impress girls or if he was just super happy about the fact that it unexpectedly resulted in impressing girls, but he did do a great deal of bragging about the ladies' responses to his pie. He was pretty proud of his newfound baking skills and from that point forward has brought pie to Thanksgiving dinner, year after year. So proud in fact, that he's apt to order every person at the table to try his pie as soon as he arrives.
"Dude, we haven't eaten dinner yet. Not ready."
"I don't care! Taste the damn pie! It's fantastic!!!"
My family has pie covered. This year and every year. In fact, my mom will in all likelihood bake a pumpkin pie as well. Assuming that happens, we'll have two pies for six people.
So, I opted to serve this one to some friends, pre-Thanksgiving. Interestingly, I almost didn't serve it to them, initially thinking I didn't like it. Hasty me, I baked this pie on a Friday afternoon and began slicing it up shortly thereafter, impatient to taste and photograph it (things start to get a little iffy after 3PM this time of year). I was a bit disappointed with the texture. I stuck it in the fridge thinking I needed more time to consider this problem, gave it a little taste later on and was pleasantly surprised. It totally transformed into deliciousness. I had to ask for honest confirmation when I served it the next day and everyone seemed to dig it as much as I did. Oh, and it was even more improved by the addition of some coconut whipped cream, which I highly recommend serving it with. So, the verdict? This pie is awesome, and doubly so with topping.
I didn't add much sweetener. This is really a personal thing. In fact, I was initially all excited, thinking I could get away with a no-sugar-added vegan sweet potato pie. Upon tasting the batter I realized at least a little extra sweetness would be needed. I recommend tasting your batter to decide if you'd prefer a little more or less.
Finally, if you buy a premade crust, watch out. Most store bought pie crusts contain either dairy and/or lard. If you can't find a suitable vegan crust, go and make your own. Most recipes are as simple as flour, salt, water and vegetable shortening. If you can find yourself some vegan graham crackers, they would make a nice crust for this as well, given the not too sweet-spicy flavor.
Vegan Chai Spiced Sweet Potato Pie
1 vegan pie crust of choice
2 medium sweet potatoes
2 tbsp. cornstarch whisked together with 1/4 cup cold water
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup non-dairy milk of choice (you could just use more coconut milk here, for an extra rich pie)
2 tbsp. maple syrup
2 tsp. vanilla
2 tbsp. cinnamon
1 tbsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. cardamom
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. cloves
Bake sweet potatoes by poking some holes in them with a sharp knife and either (1) sticking them in a 400 degree oven for about 45 minutes or (2) microwaving for about eight minutes, checking every minute or so after the first five minutes. Either way, you want them nice and tender.
Preheat oven to 375 (or lower temperature to that, if you just baked your potatoes in there). Cut your sweet potatoes and let them cool for a few minutes. Scoop out the insides and place in food processor with all other non-crust ingredients. Process until smooth, scraping bowl as needed. Pour batter into pie crust and smooth out with rubber scraper.
Bake for about 40 minutes, or until set. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely, and, now this is key, refrigerate before cutting.
For an extra special treat, serve with coconut whipped cream.