Cream Cheese Will Transform Your Sweet Potato Pie Into A New Fall Favorite

Traditionally, a sweet potato pie is a fairly understated dessert, usually consisting of boiled sweet potatoes, butter, sugar, eggs, milk or cream, nutmeg, and little else. This simplicity leads to elegance and its light sweetness underscores a depth of earthy, caramel flavors that sugar bombs like pecan pies could never manage. Without overcomplicating things, we're here with an inspired idea: Add cream cheese to your next sweet potato pie. With its slight tang and creamy texture, this additional ingredient will take this dessert to a new level. Why try to synthesize cheesecake and sweet potato pie? The answer lies in what cream cheese brings to the table.

Despite the fact that it bears almost no resemblance to cheddar or Roquefort, cream cheese is definitely cheese. The process of making it involves nothing more than adding lactic acid bacteria to cream and draining the resulting whey away from the curds, which are then stabilized. The result is a mild, smooth, and creamy cheese that resembles a less-sweet Mascarpone. So, what can cream cheese bring to the sweet potato party? A couple of things. The first is taste: Cream cheese has a slight twang, which beautifully offsets the sweetness of the tubers and brown sugar, adding a needed high note to the savory proceedings. The second benefit of adding cream cheese to a sweet potato pie filling is its texture. Cream cheese lightens the filling because it tends to puff up as it bakes, resulting in a more complex, airier texture.

Cream cheese, meet sweet potatoes

When making the filling for this enhanced sweet potato pie, you'll want to start with 8 ounces of softened cream cheese. In a bowl, blend it with an electric mixer until smooth. (You might be tempted to buy the pre-whipped cream for this, but we think it's better not to). Next, you'll add a cup of mashed sweet potatoes (roughly the same as in a normal recipe) and sugar to the bowl and continue blending until incorporated. After that, add the dry ingredients like flour, spices (some combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, and ground ginger sounds about right), and salt. Once that's incorporated, in go the beaten eggs and vanilla extract. Voila: a gorgeous, autumnal pie filling. 

Pour this mixture into your prepared pie crust. (We're big fans of this simple graham cracker crust) and bake for about 40 minutes in an oven preheated to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. The pie will still be done even if the center jiggles a little. Let your toothsome creation cool on a rack, imbuing your house with the homiest fragrance imaginable, until cooled. Then restrain yourself and refrigerate it overnight. We love it served with just a dollop of whipped cream. Now it's simply a matter of waiting until a slight chill in the air rekindles the love of baking in your heart.