Sunday, November 29, 2009
Split Personality Sweet Potato Casserole
In any large group of people gathered to share Thanksgiving dinner there are those who like their sweet potato casserole topped with marshmallows and those who prefer nuts and brown sugar. Last November I found a recipe that provides the perfect solution to the sweet potato divide: a casserole with a half-and-half topping, one side marshmallow, the other nuts. I prepared a different sweet potato dish last year for our very small Thanksgiving meal, but this year our Thanksgiving dinner included people from three different families, so I gave the recipe a test drive and everyone was happy with one side or the other of this side dish.
- You can find the recipe on Saveur's site, by clicking here.
- This is a great make-ahead dish - the sweet potato mixture can be prepared a few days in advance. The nut topping can also be made early and refrigerated until time to assemble and bake the casserole.
- I used mostly fresh sweet potatoes which I braised in a covered pan with a bit of water and butter on the stove top until tender. I didn't have quite enough sweet potatoes so I supplemented with a can of mashed sweet potatoes (the most convenient thing ever!)
- After I mixed the sweet potatoes with the other ingredients, I gave a little taste. The filling was not very sweet at all, so, very unusual for me, I actually added sugar (3 T brown sugar)
- I've never seen cashews as a sweet potato topping - pecans are much more common in these parts - but I decided to give them a try.
- At first the amount of marshmallows seemed meager compared to piled-up nut topping on the other side of the baking dish, so I added more. I later realized that the marshmallows puff up in the oven. My brother's family doesn't eat red meat, so I used the natural fish-gelatin marshmallows from Whole Foods. They got a little dry and hard in the oven, but softened up once I covered the casserole with foil to keep it warm.
This casserole was absolutely adorable on the Thanksgiving buffet, and proved to be quite a hit. I can report that the marshmallow side disappeared faster than the nut one (all of the children present opted for the marshmallow part, in fact some of them opted for only the marshmallows and no sweet potatoes at all!)
I loved that this recipe is far less rich than others I've made - the relatively low amounts of butter and sugar in the sweet potatoes was balance nicely by the sweetness of both toppings. In fact, I really didn't need to have added the extra bit of brown sugar.
I'm sure that this split personality sweet potato dish will become a regular offering on my Thanksgiving table.