Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Recipe: Grandma Hanken's Sweet Potato Casserole

When I was growing up, the best part of any holiday meal was my grandmother's sweet potatoes. They weren't too sweet and sticky and there was always plenty so we had leftovers. It was one of those dishes that, no matter how many times she shared the recipe, never turned out the same. After she passed away my step-sister found a number of versions of this recipe in Grandma Hanken's recipe box. Who knows which one she cooked from.

Over time I experimented with different variations and my memory got fuzzier. I finally settled on this recipe which has been made kosher parve and fits into a traditional foods lifestyle. Should those things not matter to you, you can replace the melted coconut oil with vegetable oil or melted butter and the sucanat/rapadura with brown sugar.

The visual key of this recipe is the placement of the pecan halves. Rather than scattering them across the top, they are placed in neat little rows and patterns. I used to cover the top with a thick layer, but have decided that more spacing tastes better and isn't as heavy.


3 pounds sweet potatoes or yams

1 egg

4 tablespoons coconut oil, melted

1/4 cup orange juice

1 t. cinnamon

1 t. salt

1/2 t. pepper

a few gratings of nutmeg

1 t. vanilla

1/4 c. sucanat or rapdura

1/2 c. pecan halves

Cook potatoes using your preferred method. (If I have the oven on already, I'll roast them. If not I steam them.) Let cool slightly and mash. I like to leave some chunks. Mix in the rest of the ingredients except for sucanat and pecans. Spread into a greased baking dish. Sprinkle sucant on top and then top with pecan halves. Bake covered for 20 minutes and then uncovered for 20 minutes.

You can prepare them up to the baking and keep in the fridge or freeze. If frozen, defrost thoroughly before baking. You might need to bake covered a bit longer if it is really cool before going into the oven. Be careful not to burn the pecans, though, by keeping them uncovered too long.

You can find my other recipes here!