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
- 5 sweet potatoes
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- pinch of salt
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/3 cup chopped pecans
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon (I like lots of cinnamon, but you can reduce this if you prefer)
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons butter, cubed
- 1 1/2 cups mini marshmallows
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
- For the topping, combine all of the ingredients (except the marshmallows) in a small bowl.
- Mix with a fork until the mixture is well combined and resembles sand. Set aside.
- Poke 3 or 4 holes in each sweet potato with a fork or pairing knife.
- Microwave them until the flesh is soft, about 5 minutes. Turn the potatoes halfway through cooking.
- When the potatoes are cool enough, cut them in half lengthwise.
- Scoop out the flesh, leaving enough next to the skin to support the filling later on. Collect the flesh in a medium bowl and set aside.
- Place the skins on a baking sheet and bake until the edges are browned and slightly crisp, about 15-20 minutes.
- While the skins are cooking, combine the sweet potato flesh with the egg, brown sugar and salt. Mash with a potato masher or fork until well combined and fluffy. Do not overwork the mixture.
- Remove the skins from the oven and scoop the filling, dividing it evenly.
- Return the potatoes to the oven and bake for another 20 minutes until the topping is melty and bubbly.
- Remove from the oven and 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.