I love sweet potatoes almost any way you cook them, but sweet potatoes made into a creamy fragrant casserole is one my favorite holiday side dishes. My earliest recollection of this holiday favorite is topped with large golden brown melting marshmallows. But sometime in the intervening years, my mother began the brown sugar topping era. I love tradition, but improvising on tradition is part of food culture, too. I can tell you we loved that brown sugar stuff, all buttery and full of pecans. I don’t remember anyone at our house pining for the lost marshmallows, but I know there are those who wouldn’t have it any other way.
I think my mother just made her casserole by instinct with a little tasting along the way. It was always wonderful, but many years later when I started trying to make it myself, I had a little experimenting to do. I like to bake the potatoes before I mash them – I used to peel them, cut them up and boil them, but that is a lot of extra work and I don’t think they taste as good. I add butter and sugar to taste depending on the number of potatoes. I don’t like to dilute the flavor, so I don’t use too many eggs or much milk. Of course, more eggs make it puffier and pretty, but I think it makes the flavor milder than I like.
I was talking to my sister, Mary Glenn, about this project and she reminded me that mother only used a little nutmeg for seasoning – no other spices. That’s the way we like it, complete with a perfect crisp brown streusel topping.
So how do you like yours? Topping? Seasonings? Canned or baked potatoes?
Favorite Sweet Potato Casserole
6 medium baked sweet potatoes
1/2 cup butter
1/2 to 1 cup sugar
Salt, to taste
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 large egg
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup Martha White® Self-Rising Flour
1/3 cup butter, softened
1 cup chopped pecans
- Heat oven to 350°F. Butter 13 x 9-inch baking dish. Remove skins from potatoes. Place in large bowl. Combine potatoes with 1/2 cup butter, 1/2 cup sugar, salt, vanilla and nutmeg. Beat until well blended. Taste for sweetness. Add more sugar, if desired. Beat in egg just until blended. Spoon into prepared baking dish.
- Combine topping ingredients in small bowl. Blend with finger tips until crumbly. Sprinkle over sweet potatoes.
- Bake about 30 minutes or until topping is browned and potatoes are hot and bubbly.
Makes 10 servings