Sweet potato dishes are an essential part of any holiday feast. Candied, mashed, or combined with casserole ingredients, there are many ways to prepare yams or sweet potatoes. While true yams are a completely different vegetable, orange-fleshed sweet potatoes are often labeled "yams" to differentiate them from lighter flesh sweet potatoes.
The combination of sweet potatoes with marshmallows has long been a favorite of Americans of all ages. If you aren't a fan of the marshmallow topping, leave them out or add the marshmallows to only half of the dish.
- 4 pounds sweet potatoes (orange-flesh)
- 2/3 cup brown sugar (packed, light or dark)
- 6 tablespoons butter
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Dash ground nutmeg
- Dash ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 4 cups miniature marshmallows (more or less, to cover)
Preheat the oven to 375 F.
Butter a 9-by-13-by-2-inch baking pan or shallow 3-quart casserole.
Peel the sweet potatoes and cut them into 3/4-inch cubes. You should have about 10 to 12 cups when finished. Arrange the sweet potato cubes in the prepared baking pan.
In a saucepan, combine the brown sugar, butter, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg, and ginger and place it over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a boil; stir until the butter is melted and sugar is dissolved. Stir the vanilla extract into the sauce mixture. Pour the sugar and butter mixture evenly over the sweet potatoes.
Cover the baking pan tightly with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Uncover the sweet potatoes and gently stir them to coat with the liquid. Continue baking, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender and the liquid is syrupy.
Remove the baking pan to a rack and increase the oven temperature to 450 F. When the oven has reached 450 F, cover the sweet potatoes with the miniature marshmallows. Return the pan to the oven and bake for about 3 to 5 minutes, or until the marshmallows are partially melted and golden brown.
To reduce the baking time, boil the cubed sweet potatoes for about 8 minutes. Drain them thoroughly and add them to the baking dish. Pour the brown sugar and butter mixture over the potatoes and bake them, uncovered, for about 35 to 45 minutes, or until tender and syrupy.
Add 2 to 3 tablespoons of Kentucky bourbon, rum, or whiskey to the sugar and butter mixture along with the vanilla extract or replace the vanilla extract with rum flavoring.
For a hint of citrus flavor, add about 3 tablespoons of frozen orange juice concentrate along with the vanilla extract.
Add about 1/2 cup of toasted pecans to the candied sweet potatoes just before you add the miniature marshmallows, and then bake the casserole as directed. To toast pecans on the stovetop, spread them into a single layer in a dry skillet. Place the pan over medium heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the pecans are lightly browned and aromatic. Remove the toasted pecans to a plate immediately to halt the cooking.