Friday, October 29, 2010

Baked Sweet Potato/Pumpkin Custard or Pie

I don't know about your part of the world, but it seems pumpkins and sweet potatoes are everywhere here. My brother has begun harvesting some, so I'm making sweet potato custard this weekend. This is a rich decadent treat and will bring those holiday memories flooding back. Just the smell of it baking reminds me of holidays!

This recipe can also be used as the filling for a pie. I am refraining from the pie crust, because, like others, I have made a solemn oath to myself to remain Atkins friendly all through the holidays!

Sweet Potato Custard (or Pumpkin Custard)

4 - 6 eggs (for a particularly rich custard, I use six eggs, but four will make the custard just fine)
1/2- 3/4 cup granulated
splenda note- for sweet potato custard, I only use 1/2 cup of the splenda, since the sweet potatoes have a natural sweetness already.
2 cups cooked mashed sweet potatoes or 2 cups cooked pumpkin or I- 15 ounce can of pumpkin
   note- this is just straight pumpkin- not the pumpkin pie mix
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves 
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
3 cups heavy cream or half and half, heated until very hot (do not boil)
Ground nutmeg or cinnamon for garnish- optional 

Makes two eight inch pies, if you are using pie crust.

Whipped cream for topping if desired

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Begin whipping the eggs briskly with a whisk, adding splenda and spices and salt. Make sure there are no strings of egg white in the mixture and all is combined well. Temper this mixture by pouring a little of the hot cream into the eggs, whisking as you go to bring up the temperature of the egg mixture, so it will not scramble in the hot cream. I continue adding hot cream bit by bit until it is all incorporated into the egg mixture. (If you wish at this point, you can strain the whole mixture to make absolutely sure there are no cooked bits of egg. I usually don't bother.) At this point, you have a choice- using custard cups or a straight-sided souffle dish that will hold the whole thing. This should be baked using a hot water bath, to prevent toughness of the custard in the end. I sit the custard cups or souffle dish in a glass baking dish large enough to hold all with a little space around it. Add water around the custard cups or souffle dish, bringing the water ar least half way up the side.

Bakind time will vary- about 20 -30 minutes for the cups and 45 to 60 minutes for the one souffle dish. It is done when the sides are set and the center is still a little "jiggly." Do not wait until this is set firm in the oven, or the custard's leftover cooking time once out of the oven will make it too tough. Remove from the oven and the water bath and sit it on a cooling rack for at least one hour, or until very near room temperature. Then refrigerate for at least two hours or overnight. When serving, I use whipped cream on top- really makes you feel like you're "cheating!"

On other note of caution. As you know- all ovens are different, so do check your custard near the end, in case your oven is cooking faster than the recommended time. I always check, because my oven has a psychosis- it cooks on whatever temperature it feels like on any given day!


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