Does anybody actually like candied yams?
This time of year always makes me ponder the same, age old question. Does anybody actually like candied yams? Every Thanksgiving seems to serve the sticky sweet yams topped in marshmallows. Everyone loves the tradition. Kids love the dessert during dinner. But I honestly can’t eat more than a few bites. Inevitably, at the end of the meal there is a dish of naked yams leftover. Yet in spite of it’s sickly sweet taste, and middling popularity, a Thanksgiving dinner feels lacking without it.
When my husband and I started hosting Thanksgiving, we knew we needed something similar on the table. We had just completed our first Whole 30, and were desperately trying to find a healthier way to have a traditional meal. I knew that we couldn’t omit sweet potato from the menu completely. I just didn’t know how to honor the original candied yams, with something that I would actually enjoy serving.
Sweet Potatoes a New Way: Brûlée!
After some recipe research and experimenting, I came up with the idea of a brûlée. After all, everyone’s favorite part of candied yams is the marshmallows. This side dish has a light sweetness from a candied maple topping, and a silky smooth and spicy mash underneath. It is the perfect combination of sweet and savory for the holiday! Best of all, it is a dish your guests will enjoy, and not feel guilty about eating.
Light it Up
The best part of the original dish was always the marshmallows. I loved the crunchy topping, and how the sweet would balance out the saltiness from the rest of the meal. In order to get a crunchy brûlée topping, you will need a few things. First, you really should get a kitchen torch If you are scared of the kitchen torch, you can try to candy the maple sugar topping in your broiler. However, I’ve had mixed results with that. Plus, the torch has a very festive feel to it.
With Sugar on Top
The next key ingredient, is maple sugar. I’ve tried to get a crunchy candied topping using other sugar substitutes, but this really is the best. Plus, it has that great maple taste, that really goes well with the cinnamon in the mash.
Finally, you should invest in a good potato ricer/ food mill. Ask any chef, and they will tell you this is the secret weapon for silky potatoes. A food mill will ensure there are no lumps in your mash, and prevent them from getting gummy.
Though not required for this recipe, I like to use my Instant Pot to steam the potatoes. You can always boil the potatoes, or cook them in the microwave. However, I have found that the Instant Pot provides a perfect cook every time, and helps the potatoes mash more smoothly.
A few notes on serving. I traditionally serve this in individual ramekins. I love the way it looks, and it also helps with portion control. However, you can also make this recipe in a larger batch just as easily.
- 5-6 Sweet potatoes (should yield about 6 cups of potato when mashed)
- 3/4 cup hemp milk (or coconut milk if you can tolerate)
- 3 tbsp grass-fed butter (can sub ghee or coconut oil), softened
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp cinnamon (can also sub pumpkin pie spice)
- 3/4 cup maple sugar(may need more or less depending on dish size and surface area)
- Wash sweet potatoes thoroughly. Place in Instant Pot, using the steamer basket. Add one cup of water, and set to steam for 10 minutes. Allow steam to naturally release for 25 minutes, before removing. Note: I normally do this a day ahead, and keep the potatoes in the fridge after steaming.
- Peel the skin off of the sweet potato (this is easier to do on the cold potatoes, be careful to let them cool if you are doing this same day). Using a potato ricer, mash the sweet potatoes into a large mixing bowl. Using a firm wooden spoon or spatula, mix in the soft butter, making sure to combine it well with the potato. Add in the hemp milk, cinnamon, and salt.
- Spoon mixture into individual ramekins (or a large casserole dish). place on baking sheet, and cover with tinfoil.
- 30 minutes prior to serving, put the baking dish in an oven that is preheated to 350 degrees F. Let potatoes heat up for about 25 minutes.
- Remove from the oven, and generously sprinkle tops with maple sugar. Use a kitchen torch to melt the maple sugar, until you have a thin candied layer on top. Serve immediately.
!Steaming Potatoes Ahead: I like to steam the sweet potatoes a day ahead, and keep them in the fridge overnight before prepping the dish Thanksgiving morning. This makes them slightly easier to peel, and helps save time. !Stove-top or Microwave Steaming: If you don't have an instant pot, you can also boil, bake or microwave the potatoes. I just find the instant pot gives a more consistent cook, and helps the potato get very creamy.