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Friday, November 28, 2014

Candied Pecan Sweet Potato Casserole

Years ago my Grandmother used to make sweet potato pudding that was like heaven on a plate and even though I have her recipe (in her handwriting) I can't make it like she did. Either the recipe is wrong or the directions are wrong or I'm not reading it right. I'm not sure what the problem is but mine always turns out soupy. I've tried everything from adding extra eggs to doubling the cooking time and it's still just not good. Even Admiral (who has probably made it dozens of times) can't get it to come out right.

I'm kind of sad because I'm not sure I'll ever taste Grandmother's sweet potato pudding again, at least not like she could make it. I remember one year at Thanksgiving when I was in elementary school and I was being punished for something (probably for eating more candy than I was supposed to) and wasn't allowed to eat dessert. Admiral said that he couldn't make an exception even for Thanksgiving because I knew the consequences when I misbehaved, but then that night after dinner he told me that since sweet potato pudding (which would have been my dessert) was meant to be served with dinner rather than as a dessert that I could have some anyway. It was the best part of the whole Thanksgiving dinner, just my dad and I sitting on the kitchen counter eating sweet potato pudding out of the casserole dish. Oh, if I ever get that recipe right I promise I'll share it with you immediately!

Anyway, as much as I love sweet potatoes I've never been a fan of the candied casseroles with marshmallows all over the top. However, when I saw this recipe I decided to give it a try. How can I turn down candied pecans? This is easily the best sweet potato casserole I've ever had. I could still do without the marshmallows but since they're tradition I included them this time. So for Christmas (or Easter, or next Thanksgiving) you should definitely consider swapping your normal sweet potatoes or yams for this lovely casserole. And, BONUS! You can make it in advance and just pop it in the oven half an hour before you serve.

*One quick note: The sweet potatoes have 2-3 teaspoons of salt in them. There's something wonderful about the contrast of sweet and salty flavors but if you're not into that then by all means reduce the salt.

Candied Pecan Sweet Potato Casserole

Source; Creme de la Crumb

5 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2 inch chunks
1 cup water
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
3/4 cup brown sugar
2-3 tsp salt (to taste)
1/2 cup milk
2 eggs

For the topping:
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 cup pecans, chopped
3-4 cups mini marshmallows (optional)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and spray a 9x13 baking dish with vegetable oil spray.

Place the sweet potatoes and the water in a large pot, cover, and simmer over medium-low heat until the sweet potatoes are fork tender, about 20-30 minutes. (I honestly don't know the exact time because I was busy bathing a child while the sweet potatoes were cooking but it didn't take too terribly long and I had the stove turned pretty low.) You could also do the same thing in a crock pot on high for 4 hours.

Once the sweet potatoes are cooked drain the water and add the vanilla, butter, brown sugar, salt, and milk.

Mash the sweet potatoes according to your preference. If you like them chunky stick with a spoon or fork and mix gently. If you like them smoother you could go with a potato masher or even whip them with an electric mixer. I did mine with a fork but they were very soft so I had a difficult time even mixing in the other ingredients without getting them fairly well mashed. Add the eggs and mix well.

Transfer the mixture to your prepared baking dish. I was using disposable this time for easy cleanup on Thanksgiving.

To make the topping combine the brown sugar, flour, and pecans in a small mixing bowl and stir or toss to combine. Add the melted butter and mix again, then spread the pecan mixture over the sweet potatoes.

Bake at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Remove the casserole from the oven and cover the top with the marshmallows.

Return to the oven for another 4-6 minutes, until the marshmallows are puffy and browned on top. Serve warm alongside your turkey.

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