Sweet Potato Casserole

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Funny how a certain dish can tie into your memories.

I made this dish recently as part of Elizabeth’s birthday lunch.  We are a loud bunch.  Whenever we’re all together, there is laughter, stories told, and good times.  And that’s just my family!  We added Michael’s mom and aunt to the mix and the whole group was boisterous and crazy.  In a good way.  When we were all seated around the table eating, I knew I had done a decent job with the food because after everybody’s plates had been passed around and filled, the table grew quiet.  Conversation stopped as everyone savored the pork loin, broccoli cheese casserole, and this sweet dish.

My mom finally looked up and said, “This sweet potato casserole is so good!  I’ve never had it before!”

I smiled.  “Yes, you have,” I told her.

“I have?” she asked.  “When?”

“At our rehearsal dinner,” I replied.  I can still remember that wonderful meal with our friends and family after our wedding rehearsal.  Brisket, green beans, rolls, and sweet potato casserole.

While this is not exactly the recipe that Aunt Jean used when she catered the meal the night before our wedding, it’s still delicious!  Creamy, sweet potatoes with a kick of vanilla.  And the topping?  I love the way the topping basically turns into pralines!  Although this dish is traditionally served as a side dish in the South, it could easily be considered a dessert.

I grew up with both grandmothers making the more traditional sweet potatoes topped with baby marshmallows.  The syrupy sweetness of the sweet potatoes and the toasted tops of the marshmallows were a family favorite.  Although I can remember at least twice seeing the dish removed from the oven with a shriek and being hastily thrown onto a trivet while everyone present blew the flames out.  Word to the wise:  don’t toast your marshmallows for too long.  You will have to pull the burned mass off the top of the sweet potatoes, discard it, and start again!

This dish doesn’t require marshmallows.  But you’ll love it just as much!

Sweet Potato Casserole

Filling:

  • 6 cups of cooked sweet potatoes, mashed
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1 stick of salted butter, melted

Topping:

  • 2 cups of brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup of all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups of chopped pecans
  • 2 sticks of salted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix together filling ingredients and spoon into a 9X13 baking dish.

Mix together topping ingredients and spread evenly over the top of the filling.

Bake for 45 minutes.

Cool for 20 minutes before serving.

Well Duh #1:  THREE sticks of butter!!  I know!  I know!  This is definitely a once-in-a-while kind of dish.  But it really does make a ton, so each serving doesn’t really contain…oh, who am I kidding.  Just make it and eat it.  You will NOT suffer from butter-guilt when your eyes roll back in your head while you eat this!

Well Duh #2:  I cooked my sweet potatoes in the microwave the day before.  It took 8 sweet potatoes to get 6 cups, but it will depend on the size of your potatoes.  I cooked four at a time on high for 15 minutes.  Then I stored them in the refrigerator until time to use them.  When I was ready, I cut them in half and used a big metal spoon to scoop and scrape out the good stuff.

Well Duh #3:  You can absolutely use Splenda or another sugar substitute, but after using three sticks of butter, who cares?

Well Duh #4:  I used powdered vanilla – one of my favorite things in my spice cabinet.  I just love how it leaves little flecks of vanilla in whatever dish it’s used in.  I ordered mine from Amazon.  If you use it, use about half as much as you would of regular vanilla.

Well Duh #5:  You can absolutely freeze this casserole.  I would, however, only freeze the filling.  The topping could become soggy if you try to freeze the entire dish.  Just use a disposable 9X13 pan, spread in the filling mixture, and cover it tightly with foil.  When it’s time to serve, thaw in the refrigerator, sprinkle on the topping ingredients, and bake as directed.

My daddy has already requested that this be added to this year’s Thanksgiving menu, so  I know it was a hit!

Creamy sweet potatoes.  Crunchy pecan praline topping.  Soooo very Southern and so very good!

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