Creamy sweet potato casserole with a crunchy candied pecan topping and toasted marshmallows.
Growing up I had… interesting ideas about food. In some ways, I was very diverse. I’d try just about anything once and I ate my fair share of strange things as the result of not-so-friendly dares from my big brothers. Apparently eating raw whole jalapeños is good for you, “it builds character”. (<—Big fat eye roll) But in other ways, I was so stubborn about some foods, particularly food flavor combinations. For instance chocolate and fruit did not happen. To tell you the truth, I still can’t quite get on board with chocolate covered strawberries. I love the chocolate. I love the strawberry. But when I eat them together, I just can’t shake the feeling that the chocolate is being tainted.
Hey now don’t judge, we’ve all got quirks. Some of us more so than others…. ahem. (who me??)
I’m still working on the chocolate fruit-thing, I give it a taste every six months or so to see where we stand. Not much progress yet but at least I’m trying. One flavor combination I couldn’t stand when I was younger, but adore now, is the sweet n’ salty thing. I used to hate anything sweet with my dinner. Sweetness was for dessert. Saltiness was for dinner. I hated jello. And in Utah, hating jello is basically unheard of. Oh the numerous church parties, wedding receptions, funerals, and holiday get togethers I had to endure as a jello-hater. (shudder)
But the thing that changed my mind about sweet and salty flavors was popcorn. One time I was sitting there, engrossed in The Princess Bride with three of my sisters, when suddenly a Charleston Chew Mini ended up in my handful of buttery theatre-style popcorn. In my mouth it went, popcorn, butter, salt, chocolate, sugar and all. . .
And she lived happily ever after as a sweet & salty flavor-lover. The End.
Sweet potato casserole is one of those sweet and salty foods you just have to love. As a kid, I always picked around it at Thanksgiving, preferring to focus on my glazed ham and buttery rolls, but now I’m a big fan of sweet potato casserole. My mother never made it with nuts but when I made this version, I just had to go with the pecans. They are crunchy and caramelized to perfection. And you don’t have to candy them beforehand, you just stir the pecans together with some flour, brown sugar, and butter, and then toss them into the oven right on top of the sweet potatoes. Pretty nifty right? Let them get all roasty before adding the marshmallows and then five minutes later, BAM – perfect candied pecan sweet potato casserole ready to be served.
- 5 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2 inch pieces
- 1 cup water
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- ½ cup butter, melted
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 2-3 teaspoons salt (or to taste)
- ½ cup milk or heavy cream
- ½ cup brown sugar
- ⅓ cup flour
- ⅓ cup melted butter
- 1 cup chopped pecans (such as Diamond of California)
- 3-4 cups mini marshmallows
- Potatoes can be boiled, drained, and then mashed OR cooked in a slow cooker. If using slow cooker, add sweet potatoes and water to slow cooker. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours or until potatoes are easily pierced with a fork. Drain slow cooker.
- Preheat oven to 375. Mash cooked sweet potatoes. Add eggs, vanilla, ½ cup melted butter, brown sugar, salt, and milk (or heavy cream) and mix until smooth. (I like my potatoes to have a bit of texture so I don't whip them for too long).
- Spread potato mixture in the bottom of a greased 9x13 baking dish. In a bowl combine brown sugar, flour, ⅓ cup melted butter, and pecans and mix well (with a spoon, not a mixer). Sprinkle mixture over potatoes (it's okay if potatoes aren't completely covered). Bake uncovered for 15-20 minutes until pecans are caramelized.
- Spread marshmallows evenly over pecan mixture. Return to oven for another 5 minutes or until marshmallows are puffy and lightly browned. Serve immediately.