Published November 1, 2005.
More dessert than side dish, the typical recipe swamps this casserole in sugar, fat, and spices. We wanted to clear the way for the sweet potatoes.
We all know and love sweet potato casserole, but could we get away from the fat, sugar, and spice of the traditional holiday dish and bring the sweet potatoes to the forefront?
To make the supporting ingredients play second fiddle to the potatoes, we had to use sugar and seasonings prudently and to find an alternative to the classic, marshmallow sticky-sweet topping.
We first tackled the topping, evaluating a number of alternatives (nuts, canned pineapple, maraschino cherries, corn flakes, Rice Krispies, bread crumbs) and finally settling on streusel, which kept the sweetness to a minimum. We gave our streusel a crisp texture and bittersweet flavor by balancing dark brown sugar with slightly bitter pecans. We cut back on the traditionally excessive amounts of sugar and cream in the filling and boosted the sweet potato flavor by roasting the potatoes. A food processor created a silky smooth base to which we added some reserved potato chunks for textural interest. We were stingy with the spices; nutmeg, black pepper, vanilla, and a splash of lemon juice added brightness without making the casserole taste like pie.list of recipes