Thanksgiving is officially next week… how the heck did that happen? Not that I’m complaining; I’ve told you here already that it’s my favorite. But I’m still amazed that it’s almost here! I suppose it’s about time for me to figure out my menu and make my game plan. Ya, I have a game plan for Thanksgiving. Makes things way less stressful, and therefore much more enjoyable, on the day of. And do you know what’s going to go on my Thanksgiving menu this year? If you guessed pumpkin pie you’re 100% correct, but I was thinking of this Sweet Potato Casserole with Candied Pecans and Marshmallow Cream.
My version of your traditional sweet potato casserole utilizes fresh, real food ingredients and is made entirely from scratch. Yup, even the marshmallows are made from scratch. That’s just how I roll. No corn syrup or artificial coloring up in here! Even the “healthy” vegan marshmallows have soy protein and carrageenan, two things I feel are best avoided. And in addition to avoiding corn syrup and the other less than great ingredients, my recipe for marshmallow cream also uses about half the sugar of most marshmallows. I’m sure this reduction in sugar somehow changes the chemical structure of the marshmallows or something, but I’m no Alton Brown so I couldn’t tell you anything about the science behind candy making. All I know is that I couldn’t tell the difference between these and other marshmallows I’ve made with twice the sugar.
And I didn’t just reduce the sugar in the mallows. I also removed it entirely from the sweet potato mash. Every single sweet potato casserole recipe I could find added a decent amount of sugar to the sweet potatoes, and call me crazy but I think sweet potatoes are pretty sweet on their own. I mean, they do have the word “sweet” in their name. So I found additional sugar to be completely unnecessary. They’re utterly delicious simply with butter, coconut milk, egg, salt and a little vanilla, not to mention super creamy and silky smooth. And with the candied pecans and homemade marshmallow cream on top you still get a bit of that sweetness that sweet potato casserole is known for. Contrary to what it may seem, this marshmallow cream isn’t too difficult to make (the hardest part is just getting the timing right when whipping it) but if you’d prefer not to make it, the dish will still be totally delicious without the marshmallows.
Now, I may have greatly reduced the amount of added sugar to this recipe, but let’s be honest, that does not make this a health food. While incredibly delicious, sweet potato casserole is still a rather carb heavy side dish. If you ask me, it’s more like a dessert than a side dish, but hey, its the holidays so I suppose we can call it whatever we want. So my recommendation would be to load up your plate with turkey and something green like salad or other veggies, and then get a little scoop of this deliciousness. You don’t want to spike your blood sugar before you’ve even gotten to the pumpkin pie! That will also leave plenty to go around which is good because, trust me, no one is going to want to miss out on this sweet potato casserole.
- For sweet potato mash:
- 3 pounds sweet potatoes (about 6 medium)
- ¼ cup grass fed butter or ghee
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- ¾ tsp salt
- ¼ cup coconut milk
- 1 egg
- For candied pecans:
- ½ cup raw pecans, chopped
- 2 Tbs melted grass fed butter or ghee
- 2 Tbs coconut sugar
- pinch of salt
- For marshmallow cream:
- ¾ cup water, divided
- 1½ Tbs gelatin (like this or this)
- ¼ cup honey or maple syrup (I like using 2 Tbs each)
- pinch of salt
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- For sweet potato mash: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place sweet potatoes on foil lined (optional but makes for easier clean up) baking sheet and pierce with a fork 4-6 times. Bake sweet potatoes until tender, about 1 hour. Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees. Let sweet potatoes cool. When cool enough to handle, peel and add the baked sweet potatoes to the food processor along with butter, vanilla and salt. Whisk the egg into the coconut milk and add to food processor. Process until smooth and creamy. Spread sweet potato mash into a greased 2 quart casserole dish (8 or 9 inch square dishes or pie pans work as well).
- For candied pecans: Combine chopped pecans, butter, coconut sugar and salt in a bowl and stir well with a spoon to coat pecans. Sprinkle mixture over sweet potatoes and bake uncovered at 375 degrees for 20 minutes until pecans are caramelized.
- For marshmallow cream: In the bowl of your stand mixer, sprinkle the gelatin over ¼ cup water and allow to bloom for at least five minutes. While the gelatin blooms, combine remaining water, maple syrup and/or honey and salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Allow to boil until maple syrup/honey is completely dissolved, stirring occasionally, about 2-3 minutes. Turn the stand mixer to medium and pour sugar mixture over the gelatin (I poured the hot sugar into a glass measuring cup with a pour spout to prevent spillage). Add vanilla and then increase speed to high. Whip for 5-10 minutes until marshmallows lighten in color and become opaque. It should look a bit like frosting and still be pourable. Spread over top of the sweet potatoes and candied pecans with a greased rubber spatula.
If you want to make this dish ahead of time, I’d recommend making the sweet potato mash and crumble the pecans on top as described, but don’t bake it until you’re getting everything ready to eat. Then bake the sweet potato/pecan mixture and make the marshmallows while that’s in the oven. Spread the marshmallow on top of the sweet potatoes and candied pecans and let it sit for probably about 10 minutes before digging in so the marshmallows can start to firm up a bit. If you need to make the marshmallows ahead of time too you could, but let them set in a separate pan (8 inch square pan or loaf pan lined with parchment paper works great) and then cube them and just sprinkle over the top of the baked sweet potato/pecan mixture. You can’t really bake homemade marshmallow like this because it melts pretty much immediately in the oven. I’ve tried it and it makes a huge mess; a huge delicious mess. If you have one of those creme brûlée torch things you could totally use that to brown the marshmallows a tad, but it’s totally not necessary. I don’t have one because I’m not gee wiz enough for that unfortunately.
So what are your thoughts on Thanksgiving side dishes? Are you into the sweet ones like this or are you more of a savory fan?
In vibrant health,