Coconut-Sweet Potato Pie

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LOTS OF PEOPLE TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE WINTER HOLIDAYS

and head to the Caribbean for vacation, eschewing itchy wool sweaters, irritating TV specials, and crazy relatives. If you can’t escape this year, at least you can bake this pie. The coconut milk provides a taste of the tropics, and the rum will soothe your frazzled nerves.

FOR THE CRUST:

1½ cups all-purpose flour 1 tablespoon granulated sugar ¼ teaspoon salt ¼ teaspoon baking powder 2 tablespoons shredded unsweetened coconut (optional) ¼ pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, well chilled and cut into ½-inch cubes 1 teaspoon coconut rum 4 to 6 tablespoons ice water

FOR THE FILLING:

2 large sweet potatoes (about 1¾ pounds) ¼ cup packed light brown sugar ⅔ cup canned, unsweetened coconut milk (do not use light coconut milk) 3 tablespoons coconut rum 3 large eggs ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon ¼ teaspoon salt

TO MAKE THE CRUST, combine the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and coconut,

if using, in the work bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine. Add the cubes of butter and pulse until the mixture looks like wet sand. Add the coconut rum and then the ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, and pulse until the dough comes together in large clumps. Gather the dough into a ball and flatten into a disk. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

Roll the dough out on a floured work surface into a 12-inch circle. Transfer to a 9-inch pie plate and crimp the edges with a fork. Transfer the crust to the refrigerator and chill while you make the filling.

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Preheat the oven to 350°F.

TO MAKE THE FILLING, pierce the potatoes several times with a fork. Bake the potatoes until they are tender and yield easily when pierced with a knife, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool slightly. Increase the oven temperature to 400°F, and position the rack in the lower third of the oven.

Cut open the potatoes and scrape the flesh into a large bowl. Discard the skins. Mash the potatoes with a fork until very smooth. You should have about 1½ cups.

Whisk the brown sugar, coconut milk, coconut rum, eggs, cinnamon, and salt into the mashed sweet potatoes. Pour the mixture into the chilled crust and bake for about 45 minutes, or until the pie is barely set in the center. Transfer to a wire rack and cool.

SHAKE IT UP: Substitute dark or light rum for the coconut rum. Substitute 1½ cups canned pumpkin purée (not pumpkin pie filling) for the sweet potatoes.

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