Monday, November 11, 2013

My Favorite Sweet Potato Casserole

It's almost Thanksgiving!  That means it's time for me to share one of my favorite recipes, one I think could make a fine addition to your family's table.  Seriously, this is my favorite sweet potato casserole, and I wouldn't be surprised if it becomes yours.
My husband and his friends have this awesome tradition of sharing a Thanksgiving meal together one Saturday early in the month.  And by meal, I mean feast.  It's just like when your real family gets together: tons of food, lots of laughter, and plenty of wishing for one's elastic pants.  Anyway, this was my first year joining the festivities, and I wanted to share a couple of my favorites.  Between this casserole and the pumpkin cheesecake I brought, I think I guaranteed my seat at next year's table.
Sweet Potato Casserole
4 large sweet potatoes, baked
1 cup half-and-half
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups miniature marshmallows
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. chilled butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted
Bake potatoes at 450 degrees for 1 hour or until very soft.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Combine peeled potatoes, half-and-half, 3/4 cup brown sugar, 1 tsp. salt, and vanilla.  Beat with a mixer at medium speed until smooth.  Add eggs, and beat well.  (Mixture will be thin.)  Scrape mixture into 9x13-inch baker.
For topping, sprinkle top of casserole with miniature marshmallows.  Combine flour, 1/3 cup sugar, and 1/4 tsp. salt in a medium bowl.  Cut in butter with a pastry blender until it resembles coarse meal.  Stir in toasted pecans, and sprinkle topping over marshmallows.
Bake at 375 for 30 minutes.

You know how I love prep.  When there are two stages for the same recipe, I like to separate my ingredients into their own stations.  Here, I have everything for the casserole on the Large Cutting Board and what I need for the topping is on the standard Cutting Board.  This just helps me know which brown sugar goes where and all of that good stuff.  There were all kinds of fun things used - Easy Read Measuring Cups, Prep Bowls, Measuring Cups, Pinch Bowls, Measuring Spoons, Stainless Mixing Bowls, and more!

I baked my potatoes the day before since they required zero effort.  All I did was wash them and arrange them on the Medium Bar Pan to catch anything that found its way outside the peel.  No butter.  No foil.  Nothing but potatoes and the pan.  Once they cooled, I threw them in a gallon Ziploc and pulled them out when it was time to make the casserole.  Think about Thanksgiving at your house.  Do you really want the oven at 450 for an hour of potato baking when you've got ten other dishes you're trying to prepare fresh?  If it can be done ahead, go for it.

The original version of this recipe called for peeling, chopping, and boiling the potatoes.  Seriously?  Who has time to do all of that when you can just throw them in the oven?  Besides, I think roasting gives a depth of flavor with which boiling water just can't compete. (Sorry, Cooking Light!)  I put the peeled potatoes in a Stainless Mixing Bowl and used the Mix 'n Chop to roughly combine them with my sugar and salt before adding liquid ingredients.

This is the Small Bar Pan, the one that fits inside a toaster oven.  I chopped my pecans with the Manual Food Processor and threw them in for a quick while I prepared the rest of the topping.

You need a Pastry Blender.  Trust me when I say it just makes life easier.  It's been redesigned since I got this one, but it's the same concept.  The same beautiful, beautiful concept that keeps you from using a dinner fork for something like this.

The potato mixture goes into the Rectangular Baker, and the only thing left is the topping.  I don't bake in anything but Stoneware, and this recipe is a perfect example of why.  None of my marshmallows around the edges got scorched, and there were no hard sides.  Each square inch of this casserole was the exact same as the others.  Even baking is huge, especially when you're talking about cooking for the holidays.

How delicious does this topping look after adding the toasted pecans?  I promise it's one of the most delicious things you'll ever eat!  I mixed it up using the Mini Mix 'n Scraper, but this was also the perfect tool for sprinkling topping over the marshmallows.  The well shape acted as a spoon, so I didn't have to dirty anything else for the job.

Let me know if you add my favorite sweet potato casserole to your family's table this Thanksgiving or Christmas.  I can promise right now that you'll have zero complaints, and you may even have a few people hit you up for the recipe.

One last thing: Can we all just add "desserts that we choose to treat as side dishes" to our list of things for which we're thankful this year?  It's the small things, people.

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