Is it even Thanksgiving if you don’t serve sweet potatoes? I think not!
Truthfully, I love sweet potatoes best when roasted with olive oil and plenty of salt and black pepper (bonus points if you had some chipotle chili powder). Give me a sheet tray of roasted sweet potatoes and a fork, and let’s call it dinner. However, when it comes to tradition, my family (and maybe yours too?) craves a version of sweet potatoes that involves brown sugar and a crunchy topping.
In the spirit of honoring the palettes of those I am serving while also sticking to my purist guns when it comes to sweet potatoes, I have struck a balance with this dish.
Yes, these are sweet potatoes that will deliver a sweet punch on your plate, but no, they are not cloying. They are balanced. The topping is sweet, crunchy, and candy-like. The potatoes are not, enhanced only with a small glug of maple syrup and well-seasoned. Together? They are just right.
As an added perk, these can be prepared far, far in advance (three days!), ready to bake on the Big Day.
Sweet Potatoes with Brown Sugar Pecan Topping
for the potatoes…
- 4 pounds sweet potatoes
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1/4 cup 1/2 stick unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 tablespoon Kosher salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
for the brown sugar pecan topping…
- 3 cups cornflakes crushed
- 1 cup brown sugar packed
- 1 cup chopped pecans
- 12 tablespoons 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a sheet tray with aluminum foil. This will catch any sticky drips from the sweet potatoes.
- Place the sweet potatoes on the prepared sheet tray and pierce each one with a knife 4 times to let the steam escape. Bake for 1 1/2 to 2 hours until cooked all the way through and very soft. The baking time on your potatoes will depend on the size of your potatoes. If you have small potatoes, they may be done in an hour. If they are huge, it can take a couple of hours until they are fully cooked.
- While the potatoes bake, make the topping. Crush the cornflakes with your hands until you have small crumbs. Add the brown sugar, chopped pecans, and melted butter. Mix together until the butter is incorporated. Set aside. The topping can be made a day ahead and stored at room temperature.
- Set the baked potatoes aside to cool. You can refrigerate them at this point, and come back to them the next day if desired. Cut the potatoes open and scrape out as much flesh as possible into the bowl of a stand mixer.In a small pot or in a microwave-safe bowl, heat the milk, cream, butter, and maple syrup until the butter is melted. Add the cream mixture to the potatoes in the mixer. Add the seasonings. Mix on the lowest speed until the ingredients are incorporated and the potatoes are coarsely pureed.
- Pour the potato mixture into an 8X8 baking dish. Top with the cornflake topping. Bake until hot in the center, which can take up to 45 minutes or an hour if your oven is full and the potatoes were refrigerated.