This year I was in charge of the Sweet Potatoes for my family’s Thanksgiving extravaganza. Usually sweet potatoes are my grandma’s territory-for as long as I can remember she’s made the standard sliced, glazed yams that my mom and I love, however not everyone in our family shares the same affinity. So this year I decided that it was time for me to take over the duty of sweet potatoes!
In the weeks before the holiday I tried a couple different recipes but neither of them were just right. I kind of felt like Goldilocks-this one is too sweet, this one is too savory, this one is too dense, etc, etc…so I decided I would create my own recipe and incorporate the pieces of each recipe that I liked, hoping that the end result would be a success. I didn’t test this recipe before the big day which was a bit of a risk, but it ended up turning out great and everyone loved it! I would highly recommend bookmarking, pinning, or whatever you need to do to save this recipe for next year or anytime you’re in the mood for sweet potatoes! It’s a keeper 😉
We had 18 people at our Thanksgiving table this year and there were leftovers so this recipe makes a TON of sweet potatoes-but they make excellent leftovers and can be frozen, or you can just cut the recipe in half!
Lauren’s Perfect Sweet Potato Casserole
For the topping:
2 cups pecan pieces
2 cups dark brown sugar
1 stick melted butter
For the sweet potato mixture:
7 lbs sweet potatoes
1/2 stick melted butter
2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
5 tbsp maple syrup
1 1/2 tbsp Maker’s Mark whisky **if desired
~3 tbsp dark brown sugar
3 egg whites
Topping: Add all ingredients to a large bowl and stir until combined. Set to the side.
Sweet Potato mixture: Preheat oven to 400˚. Rinse sweet potatoes and pat dry. With a fork, puncture sweet potatoes evenly, 3-4 times. Bake sweet potatoes in oven for 45 minutes-1 hour, or until a fork can easily glide through and the skin can be easily peeled off. Remove sweet potatoes from oven and set aside until cool, about 15 minutes. Once sweet potatoes are cool enough to handle, peel skin from potatoes and place potatoes in a very large bowl. If you find that the skin is not easy to peel, you can cut the potatoes in half and scoop out the insides from the skins.
Using a potato masher, mash sweet potatoes to desired consistency. I left mine somewhat chunky so they had a little texture to them. Add in the melted butter, salt, vanilla, maple syrup, whisky, and dark brown sugar. Mix well with a spatula or your potato masher, if you still have chunks you need to break up. At this point everything can basically be to taste. I highly doubt that the 1 1/2 tbsp of Maker’s Mark really made a difference in the taste of 7 lbs of potatoes, but it was cool to say there was whisky in my casserole :). Add a little more if you’re adventurous! If you like them sweeter, add a little more maple syrup or brown sugar. Like salt? Add a pinch more of that!
Now comes the fun part. Beat your egg whites until stiff peaks form. You can add in a pinch of Cream of Tartar if you have it on hand to make this a little easier. You can do this by hand if you’ve got some strong arm muscles…otherwise using a mixer is the way to go. Using a spatula, fold half of the egg whites into the potato mixture until just a few streaks of white are visible. Repeat with the remaining half of the egg whites. The egg whites help prop the potato mixture up and make it a little more airy. We actually only had 3 eggs on hand so that’s what I used, but ideally I probably would have tried it with at least 4 or 5 egg whites. Try it out, you be the judge!
Once you’ve got your potato mixture to the desired taste and consistency that you want, spread the mixture in a buttered or sprayed baking dish. Use a spoon or spatula to even out the top, then pull out your pecan topping and sprinkle as much as you want over top! As you can see in the above picture, I completely covered my mixture with topping and it was everyone’s favorite part of the dish. I ended up having a little extra topping from the above recipe that I ended up not using because I didn’t want to overdo it. It really depends on the size of your baking dish as to how much topping you’ll need, I probably could’ve added the extra bit on top and nobody would’ve minded!
I made this the night before Thanksgiving and just covered it with foil and left it in the refrigerator until we were ready to bake it. When you’re ready to go, preheat your oven to 400˚again and bake for about 40 minutes, or until the mixture is heated through (if you have a deeper baking dish this may be a little longer). Enjoy!