Author Notes: I'm a sucker for the Cook's Illustrated Sweet Potato casserole published in the November 2005 issue. I've made it for Thanksgiving every year since it's been published. Other recipes have come and gone, but this one has stuck like fly-paper. Inspired by AntoniaJames I will be making an all food52 Thanksgiving dinner this year. Gulp! That means no CI Sweet Potato Casserole!! So what's a girl to do?? She must take the best parts of the recipe, and give it her own twist! Like the original, I use baked sweet potatoes, and leave some chunks for the filling. I also keep the pecans in the topping. Don't worry, though, I've definitely made some changes. For the filling I used orange juice, maple syrup, and buttermilk to sweeten and add depth. For the streusel I've added dates, coconut, and orange zest. Both the filling and the streusel are gently seasoned with French four spice which is a blend of white pepper (or sometimes black pepper), nutmeg, ginger, and cloves. The combination of flavors is warm and slightly tropical. I can happily say I am willing to make a new sweet potato casserole for Thanksgiving this year! - hardlikarmour - hardlikearmour
Food52 Review: We made this to serve alongside a bison meatloaf, and were amazed at the natural pairing. Hardlikearmour's fragrant seasonings and the touch of sweet was perfect with the bit of natural sweetness in bison. And the egg yolks give the sweet potatoes a lovely, silken consistency. She knows I have an annoying nut allergy, so wrote to ask if we could test the topping with oatmeal in place of the pecans, which we did. It didn't suffer one tiny bit. Top to bottom, this is perfect. - boulangere
Serves 6 to 8
Sweet Potato Filling
- 3 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes (none larger than a pound)
- 3 to 4 tablespoons maple syrup (Grade B preferred)
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk
- 1 medium to large orange
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted (plus additional to grease pan)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon French four spice
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 egg yolks
Pecan Date Crumble Topping
- 6 medjool dates, pitted and quartered (about 1/2 cup)
- 1/3 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon French four spice
- 3 tablespoons butter, softened & cut into 3 pieces
- 2/3 cup coarsely chopped pecans or rolled oats
- Preheat oven to 400º F with rack in the lower middle position. Line a rimmed sheet pan with foil. Arrange sweet potatoes on the sheet pan so they are not touching each other. Pierce each sweet potato several times with a paring knife. Bake until cooked through, 60 to 90 minutes depending on the size of the potatoes. The potatoes should be soft, and when cut in half no white streaks should be visible. Remove from oven, and cut in half to allow steam to escape. Allow to cool for 10 to 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375º F.
- While sweet potatoes are baking, butter 2-quart baking dish, and set aside. Zest and juice the orange. 1 teaspoon of zest will be used in the topping, and 1/4 cup juice will be used in the filling.
- Also make the crumble topping while the potatoes are baking. Combine the orange zest, dates, coconut, flour, salt, and French four spice in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Pulse until no large date pieces remain, 5 to 6 pulses. Add butter and pulse until mixture starts to become crumbly, another 5 to 6 pulses. Add pecans (or rolled oats) and pulse until mixture is combined, and few largish pieces of pecans remain, another 4 to 5 pulses. Transfer mixture to a bowl. Return food processor bowl and blade to processor.
- Use a spoon to remove sweet potato flesh from skins. Transfer half of the flesh to a food processor, and half to a medium to large bowl. Break the pieces in the bowl into roughly 1-inch chunks.
- Add orange juice, 3 tablespoons maple syrup, buttermilk, melted butter, salt, French four spice, cinnamon, and vanilla to the food processor. Process until smooth about 20 to 30 seconds. Taste for sweetness, and add additional maple syrup if needed. Add egg yolks, and process until well combined, about 10 seconds.
- Transfer sweet potato mixture from processor into bowl containing sweet potato chunks. Fold together gently but thoroughly so the chunks remain intact. Transfer the mixture to the buttered baking dish. Smooth into an even layer with a rubber spatula.
- Evenly distribute the crumble topping over the sweet potato mixture, leaving about a half inch rim of uncovered sweet potato around the edges (to prevent over-browning of the topping.)
- Cover with foil. Bake for 15 minutes, then remove foil, and bake and additional 20 to 25 minutes, until the edges have puffed and the topping has browned. Allow to cool on a wire rack for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.