The famous “Patti LaBelle Sweet Potato Pie” is sold out. It has been sold out since Thanksgiving, and probably a couple of days prior.
As of today, they’re still sold out at my local Walmart. Because of who I am as a person, I showed up to the party fashionably late, and I didn’t even hear about the illusive pies until a couple of days before Thanksgiving, and by then…well, you know what happened.
The pies began flying off of the shelves after singer, and YouTube personality James Wright uploaded this video. In the video, he gives a spirited, unbiased review of LaBelle’s pies and according to the video, it’s so good that you’ll turn into the singer herself after eating a slice.
I love a good sweet potato pie, so I didn’t let the fact that they were sold out deter me from getting my hands on a slice. I scoured the internet for what felt like 5 minutes, and ran across this recipe on Today.com.
The recipe calls for a homemade pie crust. Any other day I would’ve been up for making a crust from scratch, but I’d had a couple of Wholly Wholesome* pie shells in my freezer for almost 2 weeks at that point, and I wanted to make use of them.
The recipe also features a “black bottom”. I had never heard of this technique prior, and I thought that if it were to be a true blue “Patti LaBelle Sweet Potato Pie”, that I couldn’t do without it.
“Singer Patti LaBelle learned this pie recipe from her best friend and hairstylist Norma Gordon Harris. This sweet potato pie has a thin layer of brown sugar on the bottom crust. This “black bottom” doesn’t just add flavor, it also helps keep the filling from making the crust soggy.” –Today.com
Aside from the pie crust, I made a couple of modifications to the recipe. For starters, I swapped out all of the dairy products for non-dairy alternatives. For the milk I subbed organic unsweetened almond milk. You can make your own, or use a trusted store brand! For the butter, I noted at the bottom that I typically used “Earth Balance” as a butter alternative, and this recipe was no exception.
Other than opting to use a store bought pie crust, and swapping out the dairy, I followed the recipe to a T. I truly wanted to get that “Patti LaBelle Pie” experience that James Wright promised me!
I mentioned earlier that the Wholly Wholesome pie crusts come in packages of two. That being said, I was SO ready to make two whole pies! When I went to retrieve the shells from my tiny efficiency-sized freezer, I discovered that one of the shells didn’t survive their two week stay. The top shell was fine, but the bottom crust had shattered into more than a couple of pieces, much to my chagrin.
Initially, I was upset because I thought that that was such a waste of a wonderful pie crust! Then, determined, I decided to try to work the shell pieces into the recipe anyway.
I ended up making too much of the filling. I didn’t want to risk having the pie overflow, so I decided to make a couple of mini pies with the excess! I had some mini loaf-looking parchment paper liners hanging out in my cabinet, so grabbed a couple of those, and pressed some of the spare pie shell pieces into the bottom of each of them.
Then I filled each of the mini-pies up about halfway with filling, and topped them with more of the excess pie shell pieces. I didn’t really try to make the topping look very uniform, but honestly the sky is the limit.
In addition to the main 9-inch pie, I was able to make two 3-inch mini pies!
When I finished assembling the two mini pies, I discovered that I had lots and lots of the broken pie shell pieces left! Still determined not to waste anything, I decided to make little leaves to decorate the top of the pie. I had my partner show me the basic structure of a leaf, since he draws things like this in his sleep, and I went to work!
It took about 30 additional minutes to get all of the leaves cut out, and embellished with detail, but when everything was said and done, I couldn’t have been happier!
The pie looked beautiful, and it tasted even better! It was the perfect blend of creamy, sweet, and savory.
1 9″ Wholly Wholesome Organic Pie Shell*
3 lbs of organic orange-fleshed sweet potatoes, scrubbed**
8 TBSP (1 stick) organic vegan butter, melted***
1 cup + 1/4 cup organic sugar
2 large free-range eggs, beaten
1/4 cup organic unsweetened almond milk
3/4 tsp organic ground cinnamon
1 tsp organic ground nutmeg
1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. For the filling: Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil over high heat. Peel your sweet potatoes, add them to the pot of hot water, and reduce the heat to medium. Cook until the sweet potatoes are tender when pierced with a knife, about 30 minutes. Drain and run under cold water until cool enough to handle.
2. Brush your pie shell of choice with some of the melted butter. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of the sugar over the bottom of the pie shell. Bake until the pie dough is set and just beginning to brown, about 15 minutes. If the pie shell puffs, do not prick it.
3. Add the sweet potatoes to the bowl of a food processor, and pulse until broken up. Puree until silky smooth.
4. Add the pureed sweet potatoes to a medium-sized bowl. Mix in the sugar, and stir until combined. Add the butter, the eggs, the nutmeg, and the cinnamon one at a time, stirring well before adding the next item. Reserve some of the egg mixture to brush the top and edges of the pie crust with. Lastly, add the milk. Spoon your mixture into the partially baked pie shell, smoothing the top.
5. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F. Bake until a knife inserted in the center of the filling comes out clean, about 90 minutes. Cool completely on a wire cake rack.
The original recipe can be found here. Adapted from “LaBelle Cuisine.” Copyright © 1999 by Patti LaBelle with Laura B. Randolph. Published by Broadway Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House, LLC.
* I REALLY like this brand of pie crust! They come in packs of two, they’re organic, vegan (Dairy-free!!) and the ingredient list is short, sweet, and to the point. Of course, you may also use another trusted pre-made shell OR a nice homemade pie crust will work as well!
**As far as “orange” sweet potatoes are concerned, I used 1 medium-sized ‘Jewel’ and 1 medium-sized ‘Garnet’ sweet potato based off of a recommendation given to me by a wonderful Whole Foods Market employee.
***I typically use the organic tub version of “Earth Balance” when I need a reliable & tasty dairy-free butter alternative, otherwise I’ll use organic unrefined coconut oil. They recently released a new line of stick butters, so for this recipe I opted to try out their “Soy Free Buttery Sticks”. If you’re curious about the ease of use as compared to their tub varieties, it’s great! If you have any other questions, please comment below or send me an email! I love talking about the different dairy-free alternatives out there.
****This pie can be kept for 5 days or more! I don’t like cold pie, so I either left it covered on the counter top or in the breadbox. It tasted just as amazing on the fifth day as it did on the first day, if not better! It will undoubtedly last a lot longer if kept in the fridge.
I truly hope that you enjoy this dairy-free rendition of Miss. Patti LaBelle’s sweet potato pie. Please let me know if you give this recipe a try, and what you think of it in the comments below!