A House Divided

A tale of two pies from Martha Foose's kitchen


The yearly debate commences around the Sunday before Thanksgiving. The subject always centers around the virtues of Sweet Potato Pie verses the qualities of Pumpkin Pie. My father-in-law grew up in Ft. Wayne, IN, where pumpkin was the pie of choice. Although he spent over 35 years living in Mississippi and teaching at Ole Miss, his dedication to pumpkin pie never waned. My Delta-based family members are adamant supporters of sweet potato pie.

Team loyalty shuffles, however, when it comes to the Egg Bowl, an annual Thanksgiving-weekend, intra-state football match-up. Alliances run deep between the Ole Miss and Mississippi State supporters among our family. A gold spray-painted, foam football trophy gets passed up and down the road with much fanfare after each contest. My father-in-law always made a nickel bet with my little cousin. He was a loyal UM supporter and she a raised-from-the-cradle Bulldog fan. One year he was unable to make the drive down from Oxford and, unfortunately, Ole Miss lost, so he mailed her the nickel in an envelope requiring a 42-cent postage stamp.

Good-natured ribbing and a brimming sideboard are just two of the things that make Thanksgiving Day a happy family tradition. We all agree on what makes the day special; we are grateful that despite our differences of opinions our family is bound by strong ties to each other. So, make a little something for everyone.

Crumb Crust Sweet Potato Pie

For the crust:

11/3 cups crushed gingersnaps or peanut butter cookies

3 tablespoons turbinado sugar

1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For the filling:

3 large eggs, room temperature

1/2 cup turbinado sugar

1 3/4 cups peeled, mashed, baked sweet potatoes (about 2 medium)

1/2 cup half-and-half

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 teaspoon fine sea salt

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

1 cup marshmallow fluff or miniature marshmallows

Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a food processor, pulse the cookies, sugar, and salt until finely ground. Add the butter and pulse until well combined. Press the crumbs into a 9-inch pie pan. Be careful to make the crust an even thickness around the edges and sides.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar until well combined. Add the mashed sweet-potato, half-and-half, lemon juice, vanilla extract, salt, and allspice; whisk until completely smooth. Pour the filling into the crust. Tap pan on counter to knock out any bubbles and to level.

Bake until filling is set, 45 to 50 minutes. Transfer the pie to a wire rack and cool completely.

Heat broiler. Top the cooled pie with tablespoon sized dollops of fluff or marshmallows. Broil 6 inches from heat for 3 minutes or until brown.

Maple Cardamom Pumpkin Pie with Cardamom Chantilly Cream

1 unbaked 9-inch pie crust

2 large eggs, room temperature

1 (15-ounce) can pure pumpkin puree or baked and mashed sweet pie pumpkin

1 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup pure maple syrup

1 teaspoon ground green cardamom

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

Set an oven rack in the lowest position and heat oven to 350ยบ F.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, pumpkin, cream, maple syrup, cardamom, and salt

Pour the pumpkin mixture into the crust and bake until the center is just set, 55 to 65 minutes.

Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.

For the Chantilly cream:

1 cup very cold heavy whipping cream

1 tablespoon light brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract

1/8 teaspoon ground green cardamom

In a very cold mixing bowl using a very cold whisk, whip the cream until frothy. Add the brown sugar and almond extract. Whip until soft peaks are formed. Serve the pie with dollops of cream.