Sweet potatoes are a popular addition to the dinner table during cooler months in Texas. The root vegetable starts to appear in the fall, but winter is when it really demands the spotlight, and the light is bright at Roots Southern Table in Farmers Branch.
Owner and chef Tiffany Derry grew up eating sweet potato pie. “The kind we made was dense, but I remember one time I had it at a friend’s place, and it felt more custardy,” says Derry. She fell in love with the silky texture and took the inspiration to make a sweet potato crème brûlée.
Derry took the base of crème brûlée and simply added the taters, stopping before the dish picked up too much sweet potato flavor. “I made it at one of my restaurants and it was a big seller, so I brought it to [Roots] Southern Table. One girl who worked for me sat down to eat at the bar one day, and she took a bite of the crème brûlée and shed a tear. I was like, ‘Are you okay?! What’s going on?’ And she told me that it reminds her of her grandmother’s sweet potato pie.”
The recipe so good it brings a tear to one’s eye is below. The sweet, baked custard works as a dessert or as a replacement for its casserole cousin.
Sweet Potato Crème Brûlée
1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled
3 ¾ cups heavy cream
3 ¾ cups milk
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon nutmeg
1 ½ teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon salt
13 egg yolks
1 ½ cups sugar, plus a pinch for finishing
- Set the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Poke whole sweet potatoes with a fork, creating a few holes through which steam can escape, then place sweet potatoes on a baking sheet. Bake for about 45 minutes. Remove from the oven. Once they’re no longer piping hot, slice into 1-inch chunks. Set aside.
- In a saucepan, combine the heavy cream, milk, sweet potatoes, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and salt and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and set aside.
- In a separate bowl, whisk egg yolks and sugar together until light and creamy.
- Whisk the sugar-and-yolk mixture into the warm dairy mixture, working very slowly so as not to cook the eggs. Once combined, use an immersion blender to puree mixture until the potatoes are smooth. Set aside or place in refrigerator to cool.
- Set the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Once the mixture is no longer warm, pour it into a large, shallow ramekin and set in the middle of an ovenproof pan. Prepare a water bath: pour enough water into the pan to reach at least halfway up the sides of the ramekin. Bake at 300 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes, until custard is set, then remove from the oven and place in refrigerator until cool.
- Lastly, the fun part: add a thin layer of granulated sugar and torch to a golden-brown.