Two days ago I posted one of the sides my family cooks for Thanksgiving: carrot souffle. Here’s the other side I’ve learned from my mother-in-law. Sweet potato casserole really needs no introduction. It’s a brilliant side dish for family holiday dinners. Delicious and comforting, sweet but not too decadent and full of textures with the crunchy fudge and pecan topping and coconut flakes in the filling.
Just like carrot souffle, there’s very little time in the prep stage. Most of the time is spent baking in the oven. I remember oven space being a precious commodity while we were busy cooking the whole day for dinner. Between the turkey, carrot souffle, sweet potato casserole and green bean casserole, every dish was fighting for their time.
Makes you wish you had a spare oven.
But! It’s all worth it in the end. So let’s get started!
Rather than boiling and mashing sweet potatoes, a shortcut my mother-in-law taught me was to buy cans of cut sweet potatoes in syrup. Drain the syrup and mash the sweet potatoes. It really saves a lot of time. For this recipe, I used two 15. oz cans. They should be easy enough to find in the canned vegetable aisle. Mashed sweet potatoes ready in less than five minutes!
Then we combine all the filling ingredients and stir it around and around until it’s relatively smooth. Since the butter isn’t melted, you’ll have small chunks here and there, but that’s okay. I loved adding in the coconut flakes. It reminded me of snowflakes, so this will really bring some mood to a Christmas dinner and for coconut lovers, it’s a treat. But, you can omit the coconut if you’re not a fan. We used to cook two batches of this. One with coconut and pecans and one without for those that didn’t like coconut and couldn’t eat nuts.
The topping is a little tricky. You’ll think you’re making a streusel from the ingredients but what you’ll actually be making is a creamy fudge topping. Once it’s all mixed, spoon out a couple of dollops into each section of the casserole then use the back of the spoon to smooth it out gently. Then top with chopped pecans. And it’s ready to pop in the oven!
The fudge topping will jiggle when you put it in the oven. A good sign of it being done is when the fudge sets and there’s no more jiggling. Or you could stick a toothpick in and see if it comes out clean. So that’s about it! Prep, bake, eat and enjoy.
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