The holidays have arrived and with that, I hope, more time to get caught up with my blog. My first contribution to the holiday season is a sweet, succulent sweet potato dish that will make believers out of the most ardent doubters who question the rightful place of this tuber on the dinner table.
First, a bit more of the backstory: the inspiration of this dish was a desire to meld the tastes of previous sweet potato casserole I made which layered whole slices of the ingredients (e.g. sweet potato and apple) with the cream and eggs into something that was a bit more custardy, like the down-home Southern examples of their casseroles or even their sweet potato pie. So, taking the idea of my own casserole, using the apple to introduce some moisture and sweetness (to reduce the fat and sugar of this already calorie-rich side), add some of the techniques associated with the Southern dish, and add the spices associated with my own pumpkin pie, and you get this – with one special addition: the praline topping. These sweet, crunchy bits had everyone thinking there was rum or some other alcohol in the dish, a product of the caramelization and the sweet earthiness of the nuts I think. And while you could certainly make some substitutions to get rum into the dish, I think all will agree, it didn’t need it.
What follows is a creation that will certainly be a mainstay of my holiday dinner table for many more years to come. Enjoy.
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 60 minutes
Total time: 90 minutes
Servings: dozen (plus leftovers)
Sweet Potato Praline Casserole
8 cups sweet potato, cubed
→ roughly 6 medium sweet potatoes
½ cup brown sugar
3 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons fresh ginger, minced
1 apple (unpeeled), coarsely grated
1 teaspoon ginger powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground mace
½ tablespoon of butter (to grease pan)
½ cup packed brown sugar
½ cup all-purpose flour
→ or substitute 1/2 cup of gluten-free flour mixture
4 tablespoons butter, softened
½ cup chopped pecans
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon sweet paprika (for a bit more colour)
- Preheat oven to 325°F and grease pan 13×9 (3L or 3QT) pan with butter and set aside. Alternatively, use personal sized ramekins or any other casserole dish you want.
- Peel and cube the sweet potatoes into 1” cubes. Place in a large pot and cover with water. Cover and bring to boil (roughly 10 minutes) and then uncover and simmer over medium heat until fully fork tender (about another 10 minutes). Don’t overcook the nutrients and flavours out of the potatoes — and it’s nice to leave them with a wee bit of texture.
- Drain thoroughly and add the ginger. Then mash with a potato masher until ‘pureed’ smooth. Let cool (in cooler weather, put it out on the back step) until just warm.
- Meanwhile, in a large bowl, beat the eggs until fluffy. Add the brown sugar, salt, olive oil, cream, vanilla and mix well. Now grate into the bowl the apple. Sprinkle in the spices and taste. Adjust if necessary.
- When the sweet potatoes have cooled to ‘warm,’ mix them into the egg mixture and then pour into the greased pan.
- To make the ‘praline’ mixture, in a medium bowl, mix together with a whisk the brown sugar and flour until smooth and light and no lumps remain (use your hands if necessary to smooth them out). Sprinkle in the cinnamon and paprika then mix in the softened butter and mix well until most of the lumps are gone and the butter is blended in. Add the pecans and stir until everything is evening incorporated.
… if the mixture is ‘wet’ or greasy, place in fridge for a few minutes until it firms up.
- Using your fingers, sprinkle the praline mixture over the sweet potato casserole, breaking the pralines up to evenly space them over the sweet potato mixture. They will not wholly cover the surface, but they will ‘melt’ out a bit when baked.
- Bake in the preheated oven 30 minutes.
- Broil until the topping is lightly brown and the pralines have hardened up.
Let cool 15-30 minutes before serving with your favourite holiday dinner.