EDIT: The streusel topping recipe has changed slightly. I’ve upped the pecans to 1 cup and dropped the brown sugar to 1/4 cup. I’ve also included directions for baking the sweet potatoes. The recipe below reflects these changes. Pictures are up!
Sweet Potatoes…Yams…Sweet Potatoes…Yams. Confused?
The Library of Congress has this to say:Yams Yams are closely related to lilies and grasses. Native to Africa and Asia, yams vary in size from that of a small potato to a record 130 pounds (as of 1999). There are over 600 varieties of yams and 95% of these crops are grown in Africa. Compared to sweet potatoes, yams are starchier and drier.
The many varieties of sweet potatoes (Ipomoea batatas) are members of the morning glory family, Convolvulacea. The skin color can range from white to yellow, red, purple or brown. The flesh also ranges in color from white to yellow, orange, or orange-red. Sweet potato varieties are classified as either ‘firm’ or ‘soft’. When cooked, those in the ‘firm’ category remain firm, while ‘soft’ varieties become soft and moist. It is the ‘soft’ varieties that are often labeled as yams in the United States.
Why the confusion?
In the United States, firm varieties of sweet potatoes were produced before soft varieties. When soft varieties were first grown commercially, there was a need to differentiate between the two. African slaves had already been calling the ‘soft’ sweet potatoes ‘yams’ because they resembled the yams in Africa. Thus, ‘soft’ sweet potatoes were referred to as ‘yams’ to distinguish them from the ‘firm’ varieties.
Today the U.S. Department of Agriculture requires labels with the term ‘yam’ to be accompanied by the term ‘sweet potato.’ Unless you specifically search for yams, which are usually found in an international market, you are probably eating sweet potatoes!*
Much like limas beans, I like the stuff in the can– ya know, the big fall holiday colored one that loudly proclaims “BRUCE’S Yams.” Unlike my lima beans, for holiday baking, I much prefer to buy fresh sweet potatoes.
This year, I’m forgoing the sweet potato casserole with gooey marshmallow topping in favor of whipped potatoes with pecans. What’s up with me and pecans this year? I’ve got the feeling that when I’m through, I’m not going to want to see another pecan for at least 364 days.
Whipped Sweet Potatoes with Pecan Streusel
1 cup pecan pieces, toasted
2 tbsp flour
1/4 cup quick cooking oats
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
3 tbsp butter, cut in pieces
Whipped Sweet Potatoes-
3 lbs sweet potatoes, baked
1 tbsp orange juice concentrate (fresh works, too)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp cloves
2 egg whites, whipped
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease 6 cup baking dish with non-stick spray– I use a 6 cup rectangular Pyrex baking dish & Crisco butter flavored spray.
2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine all of the ingredients for the pecan streusel, and
mix them by hand until the mixture resembles small peas. I don’t know why I took a picture of this part before it was finished, but not afterwards. I’m going to chalk it up to having four separate recipes going at once.
Set topping aside.
3. Clean and bake the sweet potatoes using the following directions.
Wash the sweet potatoes thoroughly–they did grow in the dirt, you know.
and then coat them in butter, and wrap them tightly in aluminum foil.
Place foil wrapped potatoes on a cookie sheet and bake sweet potatoes for 1 and a half hours at 375 degrees. If you like your cookie sheet, wrap it in aluminum foil. The natural sugars in the sweet potatoes will caramelize during the baking process, and they will leak hot sugar all over your sheet pan. As you can see, my cookie sheet is…um…well loved, so I didn’t bother.
Remove from the potatoes from the foil–be careful, they’re steaming hot.
Place them on a plate to rest until they are cool to the touch.
With a small paring knife, slit the skins of the potatoes lengthwise,
and using your fingers, peel the sweet potatoes. They should peel very easily.
I love the color of sweet potatoes. They’re such a great vegetable for the fall.
4. In a large mixing bowl, whip sweet potato pulp until smooth, removing any unruly strings.
Then combine potato pulp, orange juice, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.
Since I was prepping this a day in advance, after I finished this step, I bagged up the sweet potato mixture and streusel (separately of course), and refrigerated the two.
4. In a mixer on high speed, whip egg whites
until they form soft peaks. The picture looks liquidy, but they weren’t, trust me. Is liquidy even a word? No? Well, it is now.
Then fold the egg whites gently into sweet potato mixture. Save this step for the day you plan to bake the casserole if you’re making this in advance.
5. Gently spread sweet potato mixture into the prepared baking dish. Top with streusel mixture.
Cover tightly with aluminum foil. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Remove foil from dish. Bake an additional 5- 10 minutes until topping is golden brown.
6. Let the potatoes cool for 20- 30 minutes before serving.
Yields approximately 10 to 15 servings (1/4-1/2 cup size).
*”What Is the Difference between Sweet Potatoes and Yams?” Everyday Mysteries: Fun Science Facts from The Library of Congress. Library of Congress, 24 Aug. 2010. Web. 07 Nov. 2010. <http://www.loc.gov/rr/scitech/mysteries/sweetpotato.html>.