I'm on cloud nine having just had a small helping of my sweet potato casserole. It's perfect and I'm making a second batch on Wednesday to bring to Thanksgiving dinner. I'm sure to get lots of complements with this one!
I began my quest for the perfect sweet potato casserole last weekend when I saw a picture of a sweet potato casserole recipe in one of the many magazines I subscribe to. I was dying to make it. The picture was mouth-watering and how could any sweet potato casserole be bad?
I remember that I was surprised that the recipe called for cream, but no butter. There were no eggs to give it structure. I should have trusted my instincts - it was a clunker! There simply must be butter! Also, the sugar just has to be brown sugar. So I tossed the batch and I started over this weekend on my pursuit of an acceptable sweet potato casserole to share with you.
Now, there are sweet potato casseroles with pecan crunchy toppings (struesels), and there are those with the mini marshmallows. I am combining them here and using a special little twist that came from the recipe I tried last weekend: the pecans are toasted in butter and sugar, and they have a little zing and smokey flavor from our spice rack friend, Mr. Chipotle Chili Powder.
And you can make the pecans days ahead of time. In fact, you may like the pecans so much that you make them and keep them for snacks! I have been picking at the ones that broke and weren't photogenic.
I baked my sweet potatoes days ahead of time. Bake them at 350 degrees. Mine were large, so they took over an hour. If you aren't familiar with baking them, just make sure you poke them with forks and I recommend putting them on tin foil. As they become good and cooked, the sugars will escape through those holes. So if you don't have the tin foil underneath them, the sugars will clump up and stick to the oven grate and drop to the bottom. Then, every time you turn the oven on, they will re-burn and stink up your house.
After I made my sweet potatoes, I stored them in the fridge for a number of days. So as I began preparing the casserole this morning, I took off the skins, and I reheated the sweet potatoes in the microwave.
By the way, I won't feel guilty eating this entire batch throughout the week because I cut back on the typical amount of butter and sugar that most other recipes have. Sweet potatoes are a wonderful thing, and they don't need that much sweetening. The butter is great, but let's not overdo it! Baked sweet potatoes are creamy enough with less butter.
Without further ado, here's the recipe. Enjoy, and Happy Thanksgiving!
Sweet Potato Casserole
For The Sweet Potatoes:
3 cups mashed sweet potatoes (from baked sweet potatoes)
½ stick butter, melted
1 tsp. vanilla
½ cup brown sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
For The Topping:
1 (6-oz) bag of pecan halves
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup honey (I used chestnut honey)
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
Let's begin with the topping.
Melt the butter in a pan. Add the pecans, sugar, honey, and chile powder. Toss them around for about 8-10 minutes so that the sugar and honey caramelize around the pecans. Empty out the mixture onto parchment paper so it can cool. Store the pecans in an airtight container till you are either ready to eat them or put them on this special casserole!
The only utensil you will need to mash the sweet potatoes is a fork. In fact, you won't need to even mash them, just cut them into large chunks with the fork and ass you mix in the butter, vanilla, and brown sugar, they will fall apart into the perfect consistency.
Add the eggs once everything else is mixed.
If your sweet potatoes are especially hot, you should temper the eggs. That means, that you take a hunk of the hot sweet potato and mix it into the eggs separately. That evens out the temperature before you add it to the rest of the sweet potatoes. By doing this, you prevent cooking the eggs before they are mixed in. If that were to happen, you'd have scrambled egg hunks in your casserole, and that wouldn't be pleasant.
Coat a 9 x 9 inch baking dish with cooking spray and spread the sweet potato mixture evenly throughout the dish. Top with the marshmallows. Personally, I think I had too many marshmallows on mine (just a bit too may). I would have one layer of marshmallows - no extra. Place the pecans on top with plenty of space between them.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 40-35 minutes. Check toward the end so that the marshmallows brown, but do not burn.