Sweet Potato Pie with Gingersnap Crust
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
flour for dusting
1 cup gingersnap cookies -20-2 inch cookies or 5 ounces, finely crushed
1/2 cup pecans, toasted and finely chopped
2 tablespoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 pounds sweet potatoes--4 medium
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
3 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup whole milk
1 tablespoon dark rum
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
CRUST: Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour pie plate, knocking out excess flour.
Toss together all crust ingredients in a bowl with a fork until crumbs are moistened, then press evenly over bottom and up sides of 10" pie plate. Bake crust for 6 minutes, then cool on a rack.
FILLING: Increase oven temperature to 400 degrees. Prick each sweet potato once with a fork. Roast in a foil-lined shallow baking pan until tender, about 1 hour. Remove from oven and reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees. Halve potatoes lengthwise and cool. While potatoes cool, cook sugar in a dry 8" heavy skillet over moderate heat, undisturbed, until it begins to melt. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally with a fork until sugar melts into a deep golden caramel. Remove from heat. Carefully pour water down side of skillet (mixture will bubble and steam vigorously), then return to heat and simmer, stirring until hardened caramel is completely dissolved. Remove from heat.
When potatoes are cool enough to handle, peel, then cut away any eyes or dark spots. Puree potatoes in a food processor until smooth, then add eggs, cinnamon and salt and blend until smooth. Add milk, caramel, rum and vanilla and blend until combined well.
Pour filling into crust. Bake until filling 2" from edge is slightly puffed and center trembles slightly when gently shaken, 40-50 minutes (top may crack; filling continue to set as it cools). If the crust begins to brown too much before the filling is done, crimp a ring of foil or use a pie shield to protect it. Cool pie on rack for 1 hour. Serve warm or at room temperature.