You will never find a sweet potato casserole topped with marshmallows on my dinner table (unless someone would bring it to the house as a contribution to the meal, in which case I would politely set it on the table and ignore it after that)–marshmallows, to my mind, don’t belong on top of a vegetable. The practice of marshmallows being added to sweet potatoes dates back to the 1930s and per “Fashionable Food” by Sylvia Lovegren, is still traditional with some families at Thanksgiving as a vegetable accompaniment.
Personally, I don’t like my vegetables to taste sweet–least of all coyingly, achingly, sweet.
That being said – I do love yams and sweet potatoes–a baked sweet potato, split open and topped with butter? Yum! And the next best thing may be a properly made sweet potato casserole. The best version of this that I ever tasted was a side-dish at the Kenny Roger’s restaurants some years ago. I spent years, without success, trying to find that sweet potato recipe which was more like a custard. Since I couldn’t find Kenny Rogers’ recipe, I began experimenting with sweet potato casserole recipes that I found in cookbooks. Most are, like the marshmallow one, much too sweet–hello? SWEET potatoes are already sweet, in case no one has noticed —-so I began playing around with the ingredients to reduce the amount of sugar. I’ve discovered dozens of sweet potato casserole recipes but here is one that is not too sweet:
SWEET POTATO CASSEROLE
A sweet potato casserole recipe, made with mashed sweet potatoes and a crunchy pecan topping.
- 3 cups mashed sweet potatoes
- 1 cup brown sugar (if you use Splenda brown sugar, use ½ cup)
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 cup milk (I prefer evaporated milk)
- 1/2 cup melted butter
- 1/2 cup brown sugar (if using Splenda brown sugar, use ¼ cup)
- 1/3 cup flour
- 1/3 cup melted butter
- 1 cup chopped pecans
Combine first 6 ingredients. Pour into a buttered 1 1/2 to 2-quart casserole dish. Mix remaining ingredients together and sprinkle over top. Bake at 350° for 30 to 40 minutes, until hot and browned. Serves 6 to 8. This can easily be doubled if you are feeding a crowd!
I found the following original handwritten recipe in one of my recipe notebooks and note that although it calls for one cup of white sugar – I lowered that to half a cup and if you are using Splenda, I think half a cup would be more than enough.
SWEET POTATO CASSEROLE
3 cups cooked and mashed sweet potatoes (incidentally, you can bake the potatoes in their skins, and when they are fork tender, split them open and scoop out the cooked potatoes)
1 cup white sugar
½ cup butter
1/3 cup evaporated milk
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup light brown sugar, packed (or half a cup if using Splenda Brown)
½ cup flour
Mix sweet potatoes white sugar (as noted previously, half a cup works just as well), the butter, milk, eggs, vanilla. Spread in a greased 9×13” pan,. Mix together melted butter, pecans, brown sugar and flour. Spoon over potato mixture. Bake 350 degrees 25-30 minutes, or til hot and bubbly.
Here is one more recipe for you – this is listed as a sweet potato soufflé and you will note it has very little sugar but some orange juice to compensate.
4 medium sweet potatoes
½ tsp salt
¼ cup sugar
2 TBSP butter at room temperature
2 egg yolks, beaten
¼ cup orange juice
1 tsp grated orange rind
2 egg whites
Preheat oven 400 degrees. Cook the potatoes in boiling water to cover until tender, then slip off skins and mash potatoes until smooth. Add salt, sugar, butter, egg yolks, orange juice and orange rind; blend well. Beat the egg whites until stiff; fold into potato mixture. Spoon into a well buttered 1-quart soufflé mold or casserole and bake in preheated oven for about 35 minutes or until puffed and lightly browned.