1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1 cup pecan halves
1 1/2 cups unbleached flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
4 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter (1/4 cup)
3 tablespoons shortening
3 - 4 tablespoons cold water
2 cups sweet potato puree (1-1/2 pounds sweet potatoes)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
3 large eggs
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
3 tablespoons creme fraîche or whipping cream
Praline Powder: Lightly butter a bake sheet. Combine water and sugar in a small saucepan. Bring mixture to a simmer, stirring to help dissolve the sugar. Stop stirring once the syrup begins to simmer. Cover the pan and cook for 5 minutes. Uncover and continue at a slightly faster pace until the sugar begins to caramelize. When the entire mixture is evenly colored and lightly browned, add the pecans, tilting and turning the pan to coat all the nuts. Pour the praline onto the buttered sheet and let it sit, untouched, until it cools and hardens. Break the praline into pieces, and coarsely pulverize it in or food processor or with a mortar and pestle. Reserve half of this for the pie. Store remaining pieces in a tightly sealed container for later use.
Crust: Mix flour with salt and sugar. Cut up the cold butter and work it into the flour until the mixture is mealy. Cut in the shortening maintaining a coarse texture. Sprinkle on the water and mix until the loose pieces come together into a rough ball of dough. Use a smearing movement to redistribute any unmixed fats. Dust the dough lightly with flour, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Roll out the dough between sheets of wax paper. Lift off the top layer and reverse the dough over into a 9" pie pan. Fold and trim the edge. Sprinkle half of the praline crumbs over the bottom. Lightly press them into the dough. Cover and chill for 30 minutes or freeze while heating the oven.
Sweet Potato filling: Bring 2 quarts of water to a simmer in a saucepan. Peel and cut the sweet potatoes into large dice. Boil pieces for 10 minutes, or until tender. Drain and when pieces are cool puree sweet potatoes through a food mill. Thoroughly mix in the remaining ingredients.
Filling and baking: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Remove the crust from the cold and spoon in the sweet potato filling gently so the praline stays at the crust level. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove the pie from the oven and sprinkle on the remaining praline powder over the top of the pie filling. Turn the oven down to 350 and bake another 30 minutes or until the top is puffed and browned. Allow to cool until warm before serving.
Garnish: Place the yogurt in a bowl and fold in the cream tablespoon by tablespoon until it reaches the consistency of lightly whipped cream. Spoon a tablespoon over each serving.