I’m not a fan of sweet potatoes. I’ll suffer them down because I know they’re healthy, but I don’t do it with pleasure. It used to drive my mother crazy, this aversion to orange food. Other than carrots and the occasion sweet potato, I cannot abide squash, peaches, nectarines, mangos or papayas.
Every year at Thanksgiving, my mother would try to doctor up some squash or sweet potatoes with brown sugar or maple syrup, and then try to bribe me to eat it. And, just like the grilled liver I used to douse in ketchup, I’d take a bite and then spit it out in my napkin.
That’s until I found this incredible recipe in a Martha Steward Living Magazine . It involved layering sweet potatoes with a sort-of-pralined pecan streusel, and then topping it with mini-marshmallows. While reading, I started to get the feeling that I would be able to get orange food down when doctored up like that. I was right. It was good. And, after that first making, the dish became a staple at our Thanksgiving dinners. That was until an out-of-control Bulldog named Daisy (who doesn’t live with us anymore), chewed up the recipe. Which is nowhere to be found on the Internet. And which was was fated to be lost to us forever.
That is unless I could recreate it. With my masterful powers of memory. After a few false starts and a lot of conviction, I believe I have even improved on the perfection of the original recipe (By making it way more decadent, I’m pretty sure.)
Now, since I’m generous, I’m going to share the recipe with you.
That is unless you’re on a diet. In which case, you probably shouldn’t read further.
Chicky’s Sweet Potato Gratin with Praline Pecan Streusel and Toasted Marshmallows
(adapted from a Martha Steward Living recipe)
4 large sweet potatoes
1 cup pecan pieces
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup – 3/4 cup very cold butter cut into cubes
1 tbsp or so cinnamon
a dash or two of nutmeg
enough mini marshmallows to cover the top completely
For the potatoes:
Steam or boil the sweet potatoes until they are just tender but not soft. Let cool and peel them (once sweet potatoes are cooked, the peel just slides off.) and slice into about 1/2 inch slices (rounds).
While potatoes are cooking, make the Praline Pecan Streusel:
In a small mixing bowl, place the butter, pecans, and brown sugar. Using a pastry cutter, two knives, or your fingers (that’s the best way), mix together until you have a coarse crumble. Add in the cinnamon and nutmeg and mix to combine.
(Finger method: place your clean hands in the bowl and grab a chunk of the mixture with your fingers. Rub fingers together. Repeat and repeat. You’ll see. It works.)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Place a layer of sweet potato rounds into a well-greased square baking dish (about 9 x 9 or whatever you have). Top with blobs of the streusel mixture (about 1/2 of it). Repeat the layering of the potatoes and the blobbing of the streusel. Cover with tinfoil, and place in the preheated oven for about 30 minutes.
If making ahead, you can prepare the dish up until this point and place in the fridge. (Don’t forget to reheat before the marshmallow step if you made ahead.)
Top with a layer of mini marshmallows and place under the broiler until the marshmallows are golden. DO NOT WALK AWAY UNLESS YOU LIKE BURNT MARSHMALLOWS.
Take a bite. Now, tell me it ain’t worth the calories.