Chocolate Chipotle-Sweet Potato Pie

Chocolate Crust:

1 Cup Chocolate Wafer Cookie Crumbs

3/4 Cup Almond Meal

2 Tablespoons Natural Cocoa Powder

2 Tablespoons Granulated Sugar

5 Tablespoons Non-Dairy Margarine or Coconut Oil, Melted

1 Cup Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips

Chipotle-Sweet Potato Filling:

2 Cups Roasted Sweet Potato Puree*

1 Cup Dark Brown Sugar, Firmly Packed

1 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon

1/4 Teaspoon Ground Nutmeg

1/4 Teaspoon Salt

1/2 - 1 Small Chipotle, Canned in Adobo Sauce

1 Teaspoon Adobo Sauce

Pinch Freshly Ground Black Pepper

1/4 Cup Tapioca Starch

1 Cup Coconut Milk

1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Coconut Whipped Creme

Chocolate Shavings or Curls

*To get roasted sweet potato puree, crank up your oven to 400 degrees. Peel and roughly dice two medium - large sweet potatoes, and toss with about 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Sprinkle very lightly with coarse sea salt, and bake for 20 - 30 minutes, until the pieces are fork-tender and lightly browned around the edges. Let cool, and puree to a completely smooth consistency in your food processor or blender. Alternately, you could use canned sweet potato or even pumpkin puree.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and lightly grease a 9-inch round springform pan.

Beginning with the crust, combine the cookie crumbs, almond meal, cocoa powder, and sugar in a large bowl. Pour in the melted margarine or coconut oil, and mix thoroughly, until all of the crumbs are moistened and will stick together when pressed. Transfer this mixture into your prepared pan, and use lightly moistened hands or the flat bottom of a measuring cup to smooth it out, pressing it evenly into the base of the pan. Bake for 10 - 15 minutes, until it no longer appears shiny on top. Immediately after removing the crust from the oven, sprinkle it evenly with your chocolate chips, and let them sit for a moment to soften and become melted. Use a spatula to smooth them out over the crust, to form a fairly consistent layer. Set aside.

Moving on to the filling, simply place all of the ingredients (starting with the lesser amount of chipotle) in your food processor or blender, and pulse to combine. Pause and scrape down the sides of the work bowl as needed, to make sure that everything is getting incorporated, until the filling mixture is completely smooth and homogeneous. Taste for seasoning, and add in more chipotle (or even adobo sauce, if that's not enough for you) as desired. The heat does tone down a bit after being baked, but not too much, so go easy on those spicy little peppers! Once you're satisfied with the level of spice, pour the sweet potato mix on top of your prepared crust, and smooth out the top.

Tap the pan a few times on the counter to release any air bubbles before sliding it into the oven. Bake for 20 - 28 minutes, until the edges are set but the center still looks wobbly, much like a cheesecake. Let cool completely before moving the pie into the fridge to cool. Only after it is thoroughly chilled can you top it with the coconut whipped creme and chocolate shavings. Release the ring from the springform pan and and serve! And yes, if you added just a touch too much chipolte, a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream does help tame the flame.

©Hannah Kaminsky