Sweet Potato Casserole

Sweet potato casserole is one of those things, along with green bean casserole, that I thought made an appearance every year on the holiday dinner table just because it’s tradition.  In fact, I was going to try to get away with not making sweet potato casserole this year.  I had a guest request it, and I’m not known for being a bad hostess, so I added it to the menu.  I’m so glad I did, as it ended up being my favorite side dish this year.  The guest also stated that the sweeter the casserole, the better and this didn’t disappoint in that regard.  As far as the “extra” work that adding this as a side dish created, I’m pleased to say that this recipe is nearly effortless.  I did use my stand mixer to do a lot of the work, but a hand mixer would be fine as well and either one makes quick work of mashing the potatoes, which is really the most labor-intensive part of this.

I should warn that the cinnamon did settle to the bottom of the baking dish at some point before I baked this.  I made the potato puree mixture a day ahead of time*, and stored it in the refrigerator in the baking dish overnight.  When I baked it, I didn’t stir up the puree again before I put it into the oven, but I suspect that if I had, the cinnamon wouldn’t have been settled in a dark layer on the bottom of the baking dish.  In fact, I saw the dark layer at the bottom of the dish and feared I had served my guests burnt sweet potatoes.  One guest had a large amount of the dark layer on his plate, and when I noticed, he told me that was all of the cinnamon, “the best part.”  Whoops.  I did take a spoonful of the dark stuff just to be sure he wasn’t merely being polite, and it was indeed, delicious and cinnamon-y  Even with the cinnamon snafu, this was very tasty and had a good cinnamon flavor.

sweet potato casserole (1280x857)

Sweet Potato Casserole

Ingredients:

for the potatoes:

  • 5 lbs. sweet potatoes (about 10)
  • 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 2/3 C. granulated sugar
  • 1/2 C. light brown sugar
  • 1/2 C. honey
  • 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 1/2 C. hot milk

for the topping:

  • 1 C. all-purpose flour
  • 1 C. light brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 -inch dice and chilled
  • 1/2 C. (2 ounces) coarsely chopped pecans
  • 1/2 C. (2 ounces) coarsely chopped walnuts

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Spread the sweet potatoes on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for about 1 1/2 hours, or until tender.

Let the potatoes cool for 10 minutes, then peel.

In a large bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment), beat the hot sweet potatoes on low speed.

Beat in the butter.

Add the granulated sugar, brown sugar, honey, vanilla, salt and nutmeg and beat until blended.

Add the eggs and then beat on medium speed for 2 minutes.

Reduce the speed to low and gradually add the hot milk.

Heat the oven to 375 degrees.

Butter a 13-by-9-by-2-inch baking dish and pour in the sweet potato mixture, spreading in an even layer.

In the bowl of a food processor, pulse together the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt (or combine in a mixing bowl).

Add the butter and pulse (or cut it in) until the mixture resembles coarse meal.

Add the pecans and walnuts (if using a food processor, pulse until the nuts and butter mixture are almost smooth, otherwise, stir in the chopped nuts).

Sprinkle the nut mixture evenly over the potato mixture and bake for 1 to 1 1/4 hours, until the topping is golden brown and crisp.

If the topping browns too quickly around the edge before the center is crisped, cut a large hole in the center of a sheet of foil and rest it on the dish while it finishes baking.

Serve hot.

*To make ahead, The sweet potato puree and the topping can be refrigerated separately for up to 1 day, bring to room temperature before baking at 375 degrees for 1 to 1 1/4 hours as directed above.

Makes 12 generous side servings.

Source: adapted from Food and Wine

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