Easy Weeknight Dinners // Un-Recipe No. 13:
Candied Sweet Potatoes
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A fresh spin on a traditional Thanksgiving staple: baked sweet potatoes topped with gooey toasted marshmallows, gingery caramel sauce, toasted pecans and lemon zest. Pin this post.
Baked Sweet Potatoes (pssst: >> how to make the best baked sweet potatoes)
Earth Balance Butter
Prep For Candied Sweet Potatoes:
2. Make The Ginger Caramel Sauce: Squeeze the juice of half a lemon into a small sauce pan. Add half a cup of Earth Balance and half a cup of brown sugar. Use a microplane to grate 1 Tbs. of fresh ginger into the saucepan. Add about a tsp. each of ground cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and salt. Go easy on the cloves as they can taste bitter in large doses. Feel free to go long on the cinnamon to give it more of that “comfort food” flavor.
Turn the heat to medium-high and whisk at a brisk pace until the sauce starts bubbling. Turn heat to medium and continue to whisk until sauce thickens — about 3-5 minutes.
Be careful to not over-cook the sauce. (Warning: sugar hardens like a rock during caramelization, so go slowly and get ready to pull away from the heat quickly.) You should start to smell caramel, at which point, you only have a minute or two left.
When the caramel sauce is a good thickness (think the consistency of something you’d put on ice cream), remove from heat and set aside.
3. Roast The Marshmallows: When the sweet potatoes are finished cooking, remove them from the oven and let them cool for a couple minutes. Turn the oven to the broil setting.
Take a knife and cut a long seam into each sweet potato, cutting almost all the way through the sweet potato so it can lie flat. Place a small handful of mini marshmallows into the center of each sweet potato and return to the oven for about 4 minutes. The heat of the sweet potato will start to melt the marshmallows, so they only need a short amount of time in the oven to turn golden brown and develop a thin, toasted crust.
Watch them carefully. If you’re one of those people who torches their marshmallows over the campfire, let them stay in until they start to blacken. But since some people don’t like the texture of sugary ash, it’s better to air on the side of caution!
4. Put The Finishing Touches On The Candied Sweet Potatoes: Take your candy caramel sauce and drizzle about a Tbs. over the toasted marshmallows. Top with a sprinkling of pecans, a dusting of cinnamon and a few pinches of lemon zest.
Lemon. This is admittedly a fall-inspired dish, but I published it in the spring because when summer is nigh I start to get cravings for s’mores and knew there HAD to be a way make marshmallows and sweet potatoes work for spring. The bright combination of lemon and ginger help make this dish more versatile and transcend the seasons. And the pinch of lemon zest for garnish echoes the vivid yellow bursts of dandelions that are taking over my yard. 😉
For The Win:
Microplane The Spices. My “for the win” this week is to use fresh spices, or not.
Let me explain …
There is nothing like fresh ginger; it’s spicy, pungent, peppery and sweet. If I had been up to it, I would have used a microplane grater for fresh nutmeg as well. But alas, shortcuts exist for a reason and one should ever feel guilty for taking advantage of them.
It’s better to cut some corners if that’s what’s going to keep you cooking. If the prospect of cooking everything fresh and from scratch and with whole food ingredients starts to raise your blood pressure, figure out how you can do the bare minimum while still retaining the spirit of the dish. Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater, as they say.
Use Tradition As A Starting Point. Sweet potatoes and marshmallows go together like peanut butter and jelly for some people. There are about a million and one versions of this classic dish online, but it’s not necessary to follow a recipe when the foundation is a solid win. Start with basic components and work in subtle supporting flavors that are proven to work well together. I used the concept of pumpkin pie spice as a basis for this un-recipe, and put extra emphasis on the less common players like lemon and ginger to freshen it up.