Sunday, November 8, 2009

Traditional Southern Sweet Potato Casserole

Classic old fashioned souffled sweet potato casserole topped in the traditional way with gooey marshmallows, or if you prefer, a praline topping.

Sweet Potato Casserole

I don't know what it is about sweet potatoes fluffed up souffle like and topped with gooey marshmallows, but we sure love this dish down here in The Deep South and it is a rare Southern table that is not graced with it on Thanksgiving or Christmas, or both.

Although a pone can refer to many different dishes, including cornbread, you may have heard this dish referred to as sweet potato pone. As always in different regions of the South, recipe ingredients for a pone do vary widely, but I have noted that sweet potato pone is rarely topped with anything at all. It is more of a simple bake, seasoned with classic pie spices and perhaps a little more dense than what we are accustomed to in a sweet potato casserole. In New Orleans, a sweet potato pone was called pain patate in years past, where it was made with grated sweet potatoes, and often includes flour, making it much more dense and nearly a cake-like pudding, and often included a pinch of cracked black pepper to offset the sweetness of the sugar.

Yes we know it gets a bad rap from some folks, particularly those who don't have the privilege of living in our beautiful South. They make fun of it and call it names. And they make fun of Southerners for loving it, but we love it, so when you insult it, know that you are also insulting hundreds of thousands of Southern folks who love it, bless your heart.

It's really okay if you prefer a praline topping over the marshmallows too. We southerners have been known to top a few things with pecans here and there and so we might know a thing or two about that too. Or... top it with whatever you like, something out of the ordinary even. I have indeed seen some strange things in the name of a sweet potato casserole, but mini marshmallows is the way we usually roll Down South. It is simply traditional for us. My recipe includes a praline topping if you'd rather that over the gooey marshmallows, or go crazy and do both!

And, like I ask regarding our beloved cream soups found in traditional holiday dishes like Green Bean Casserole, I'd like to also ask that you please stop trash talkin' this classic too, if you don't mind. Remember mama's advice that if you don't have something nice to say, well.. if you're a proper southerner, you know the rest.

This recipe serves about 6 or so as written. For the holidays double it. While you're here, be sure to click on over to browse more traditional southern Thanksgiving recipes, or check out our Christmas recipes too.

Here's how to make my version of sweet potato casserole.

You'll need about 3 cups or so of cooked, mashed sweet potatoes. You can boil, bake or microwave them, whatever is your favorite way. Once they are cooked, mash them up with the butter and let them cool. You may also substitute canned yams, which in the U.S. are really canned sweet potatoes and not yams at all. You can read more about that on my sweet potato page, where, by the way you'll find all kinds of ways to enjoy them. For this recipe you'll want about 3 (16 ounce) cans of candied yams, drained (like Bruce's brand), however, remember that you'll need to adjust sugar down accordingly to taste.


Add half of the sugar at first, then all of the spices, salt, vanilla and half and half.


Mash it up well and taste. Adjust the seasonings to your taste, then add the beaten eggs.


Transfer that to a 1 to 1-1/2 quart buttered baking dish, cover and bake at 375 degrees F for about 30 minutes, until everything is heated through well.


Remove, uncover and spread marshmallows on the top, bake uncovered about 10 minutes longer, or until marshmallows are nicely browned, but keep an eye on them so you don't burn the top. Marshmallows will puff up as they cook so for insurance, you may want to bake the casserole on an aluminum foil covered pan. It's much easier to clean that than it is to clean the bottom of the oven!


Recipe: Traditional Southern Sweet Potato Casserole

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 10 min |Cook time: 40 min | Yield: About 4 to 6 servings

Ingredients
  • 3 to 4 large sweet potatoes, cooked and mashed (about 3 cups)
  • 1/2 cup of unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup of granulated sugar, or to taste
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 cup of half and half
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 cups of mini marshmallows
Instructions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Butter a 1-1/2 to 2 quart casserole dish; set aside.

Mash the cooked and cooled sweet potatoes until smooth; add the butter, half the sugar, pinch of salt and all of the half and half, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and vanilla extract; stir well and taste. Add the remaining sugar as needed to taste. Add the eggs and combine well. Pour into the casserole dish. Cover and bake at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes, until heated through well.

Remove, uncover and spread marshmallows on the top, bake uncovered about 10 minutes longer, or until marshmallows are nicely browned.

Serves about 6 - Double for the holidays.

Cook's Notes: Sweet potatoes may be boiled, baked or microwaved to cook. May substitute 3 (16 ounce) cans of candied yams, drained (like Bruce's brand), however, adjust sugar down accordingly to taste. Taste for sweetness before cooking, after adding all of the spices, but before adding the eggs. Marshmallows will puff up as they cook so for insurance, you may want to bake the casserole on an aluminum foil covered pan.

Make Ahead: If using the praline topping you can assemble this entire casserole the day before if you like. Cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature for about 30 minutes, and if using marshmallows, wait to add those as directed above.

Praline Topping:

This is enough praline topping for the casserole above, doubled. Reduce by half for the 6 serving size.
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup finely chopped pecans
  • Whole pecan halves for garnish, optional
Melt the butter. Meanwhile mix the brown sugar, flour and pecans in a small bowl. Pour the butter into the brown sugar mixture and stir with a fork until well mixed. Eliminate the marshmallows and sprinkle the pecan mixture all over the top of the casserole. Bake at 350 degrees F for about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Allow to sit for 5 minutes before serving. Garnish with whole pecan halves after removing from the oven, if desired.

Source: http://deepsouthdish.com

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Posted by on November 8, 2009

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Made with canned yams.
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45 comments:

  1. Sweet potatoes are one of my favorite sides...after stuffing. This looks wonderful! I usually make my casserole with a brown sugar/pecan topping, but my kids might actually eat it if I put marshmallows on top.

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  2. Nothing says Thanksgiving like marshmallow-topped, mashed sweet potatoes!

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  3. amazing my 13 yar old daughter made this all by herself and it tasted fantastic so i give thes a five star good dish

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  4. I especially LOVE that!!! Yay for you too for teaching her how to get in the kitchen and create!!

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    Replies
    1. Any way i can substitute the half and half for something else??

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    2. Half and half (half milk, half cream) gives the dish a little extra richness but evaporated milk or regular milk could be substituted.

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  5. I love this recipe. I use my own version every year after scouring cookbooks for a better one. I never can find one and always resort back to this one. Glad to see it in print with specific measurements for the spices.

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  6. You're welcome. It's really a very basic recipe, but I do tend to stick with the classics. Enjoy!

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  7. This sounds so good. My mama made a variation of this with fresh sweet potatoes, butter, brown sugar and pecans...marshmallows on top...called it Sweet Potato Puff. It is a staple at our family gatherings here in Alabama. I may give yours a try (even though they are very similar) but I think I will use fresh sweet potatoes...Is there a reason not to? Thanks for this site!! I love it!

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  8. Are canned sweet potatoes as good as using fresh sweet potatoes, or can you tell the difference?

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  9. Absolutely! The fresh sweet potato variation is at the bottom of the recipe. Have a happy Thanksgiving!

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  10. The canned are "candied" already so they're much sweeter. You'll have to adjust for that with the fresh. Mash them, then add in half the sugar from the recipe, the half and half, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and vanilla extract, mix and taste. Add more sugar as needed, taste and add a little more until it tastes right! Then add in the eggs & continue.

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  11. OMGoodness! I didn't know this was a "real" recipe! I learned to make this from my mom more than 35 years ago without a written recipe. Being from WV, no one else we knew had heard of this kind of sweet potato casserole. My father was from the Outer Banks of NC so I'm guessing my mom learned the recipe from her southern mother-in-law. We use brown sugar instead of granulated and stir in raisins after the eggs and definitely use the marshmallows! YUMMY

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  12. my favorite version of sweet potato casserole...people who do not love sweet potatos love this!!!!

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  13. I'll bet your mom did! We sure know this one down this way! And far as I'm concerned I say YES on the gooey marshmallows too!

    I'm with you on that - I enjoy sweet potato casserole make with fresh sweet potatoes too, but starting with the candied yams is such a different version. Thanks so much for taking the time to comment.

    Happy Thanksgiving!!

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  14. When you double the recipe, do you use baking dish (9x13) instead of a casserole to even out the potato to marshmallow ratio?

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    Replies
    1. Yes, a 9 x 13 inch pan or a casserole that holds about 4 quarts to double!

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  15. Gonna try this recipe this year, everyone loved one I did last year but I can't find the recipe!! Is there a reason for using regular sugar and not brown? Also think I'm gonna try both toppings on mine!

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    1. You can use brown sugar if you prefer. This recipe uses canned yams which are already sweetened so don't forget to take that into account if you use canned over raw sweet potatoes, so be sure to mix, taste & adjust the sugar as needed!

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  16. can you use both the marshmallow AND the praline topping? and just exactly how would you recommend going about it? marshmallow on the bottom and praline on the top or vice versa?

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    Replies
    1. Yes you could Soad!! I would put the casserole together, make the praline topping, put it on the top and bake for about 30 minutes, then add the marshmallows & return to the oven for about 15/20 minutes longer to melt & brown the marshmallows. Keep an eye on that last part though... we almost always traditionally burn ours LOL!! Enjoy!

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  17. is it possible to use both the marshmallow and the praline topping- and how exactly would you go about doing it? marshmallow on the bottom and praline on top / vice versa? what would the cooking times be if I decided to do this?

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  18. I just love sweet potato casserole!! It was served at holidays since before I was born and included the mini marshmallows. But, ours included two other things that yours doesn't (although I like it without them, too). Ours always included a can of crushed pineapple and golden raisins in addition to the brown sugar and butter. Probably because I didn't grow up in the South, I'd rather not have pralines on mine. I'm sure if I had, they'd be on my want list, too.

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    Replies
    1. I'm crazy for the marshmallows on top myself!

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  19. Can this recipe be frozen ahead of time?

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    1. Yes! Just prepare everything and assemble minus the topping, don't cook it though, freeze and let come to room temperature about 30 minutes when you're ready to cook it and bake as above. To retrieve you pan, line it with a couple of layers of aluminum foil and leave overhang for wrapping. Once it's frozen you can remove the casserole, wrap up tightly and use your baking dish! If using whole sweet potatoes prepare those first as above, then mash and don't forget to taste and adjust for sugar!

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  20. What consistency should the casserole be when it comes out of the oven? I prepared this dish last year and it tasted soooo good. Unfortunately I had to let the casserole bake for so long that the marshmallow topping melted down to nothing. Still tasted great but wasn't very pretty.

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    1. It should be the consistency somewhat of mashed potatoes - right above the recipe there's a photo of a serving that shows what it looks like scooped out. Was it too thin?

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  21. what can you use if you don't have half and half? whole milk?

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    Replies
    1. Hi Tina! Yes, whole milk or really any milk would work. The half and half just adds a touch of richness, but it's such a small amount that it won't affect the casserole at all.

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  22. what can you use if you don't have half and half? whole milk?

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  23. Very nice recipe! Great directions & pictures too!! This had been a family tradition for decades but then my mom stopped making!! What??!!! Glad I found your site! Pinned it too! Happy Turkey Day!!! Bee

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  24. Can I use milk instead of half n half

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    Replies
    1. Yes, whole milk or really any milk would work. The half and half just adds a touch of richness.

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  25. do you have to use eggs??

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    Replies
    1. The eggs sort of fluff it up and make it a bit more airy in texture. You could omit them, but then it would basically be a puree or essentially mashed sweet potatoes, a little bit more dense. Still good, just different!

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  26. Mary mary MAaaaaRrrYyyy!!!! This was a hit!!!! I tripled the ingredients to make a very big caserole...my kids suggested I layer this fir christmas so they could have more marshmallows...how can I conquer this........angie

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    Replies
    1. Hey Angie! You mean like some marshmallows in the middle maybe? Sounds good to me. I stash them underneath the twice baked so I say why not?

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  27. This was also a hit at our house too! My daughter usually wont touch this but this time she was asking for seconds claiming it tasted like candy. Yay! Thank you.

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    1. You're welcome Amy & thanks so much for popping back by to let me know!

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  28. If I'm using pralines do I cook at 375 for 30 minutes add pralines and then cook for additional 45 minutes to an hour on 350?

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    Replies
    1. The directions for substituting the pecan topping is at the very bottom with the ingredients. You sprinkle the pecan mixture all over the top of the casserole, then bake at 350 degrees F for about 45 minutes to 1 hour total. Allow to sit for 5 minutes before serving.

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