Traditions are a big thing in my family. For nearly my entire life, we have eaten the exact same dishes for every holiday. Bloody Mary's are always and only served Easter Sunday. Christmas Eve is for prime rib. And Thanksgiving is not complete without sweet potato casserole. I remember the first time my mom put me in charge of making this candy-like side dish. We used canned sweet potatoes (which are not at all appealing unless they are made into a casserole, I'm quite convinced) with chunks of pineapple and plenty of brown sugar topping and marshmallows. I may have put the marshmallows on at the beginning of cooking time rather than the last few moments. My recipe reading skills were not yet developed.
Even before I tried my hand at making it, sweet potato casserole has been my favorite Thanksgiving dish. I feel like it was always the first leftover to disappear the next day, which was slightly disappointing and left me wishing we had made two batches instead of one.
This year, I wanted to bring a recipe to you that held on to the classic flavors and ingredients found in sweet potato casserole but was more grown-up in its presentation. These twice baked sweet potatoes are the perfect way to add a twist to tradition. Especially if you, like me, have a hard time letting go of the comfort and security consistency brings. The first year Brad and I spent in Japan gave me the motivation to bring my traditions overseas. We hauled a turkey in a (brand new and extremely clean) garbage bin on the back of a bicycle to a friend's house so we could use her oven. Maybe I'll tell you more about that story in another post...
Still, in our oven-less kitchen, I managed to serve sweet potato casserole, mashed potatoes, green beans, apple crisp and a pumpkin trifle-type of dessert. It was a wonderful event and everyone left with full tummies and, for some, the memory of their very first Thanksgiving.
Traditions are a wonderful thing, but they're better when shared and shaped by people you meet along the way.
What are your favorite Thanksgiving traditions? Dishes? Stories?
Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes with Brown Sugar, Pecans & Marshmallows
Makes 8-10 servings (half a potato per person)
- 5 small sweet potatoes, scrubbed and cut in half lengthwise
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- pinch of salt
for the topping:
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- pinch of salt
- 1/3 cup chopped pecans
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup mini marshmallows
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the sweet potatoes, cut side down, on the parchment and roast for 30 minutes or until tender.
- Combine all of the ingredients for the topping (except the marshmallows) in a small bowl.
- When the sweet potatoes are done roasting, take them out and let them cool enough to handle. Scoop out the flesh with a melon baller, taking care not to poke any holes in the skin. Collect the potato flesh in a medium bowl and set aside and return the skins to the baking sheet, cut side up this time.
- Combine the sweet potato flesh with the egg and salt. Mash with a potato masher or fork until well combined and fluffy. Do not overwork the mixture.
- Scoop the filling into the potato skins, dividing it evenly. Use your fingers to sprinkle the brown sugar and cinnamon topping over each potato.
- Return the potatoes to the oven and bake for another 20 minutes until the topping is melty. After removing the potatoes, preheat the broiler on low and move a rack to the top third of the oven.
- Top each potato with marshmallows.
- Return to the oven and bake until the marshmallows are golden brown, 3-5 minutes. Keep a close eye on them in this stage so the marshmallows don't burn.
- Serve immediately.
- To make these GLUTEN FREE: omit the flour from the brown sugar mixture and make sure your marshmallows are labeled GF.
- To make ahead: Do everything up to step 5. Refrigerate for 1-2 days. When ready to cook, proceed from step 6.