To be honest, I haven’t had the chance to bake something sweet like this potato casserole for weeks, as I don’t have a tooth made out of candy canes. But when I saw the family stopping their car in front of the house on-sale next door, I instantly knew they had to have a piece of my delicious casserole.
Kinds of Sweet Potatoes to make great Casseroles
Just like many other plants, sweet potatoes have several varieties. While they are not that different from each other, you still might want to know them so you can get your dessert at the perfect consistency.
Sweet potatoes generally come in 2 types: dry-fleshed and moist-fleshed.
The dry-fleshed kind has a lighter tan skin than moist-fleshed sweet potatoes and has a distinct white color on the inside. The name suggests that they are high in starch content, which also means their texture will remain firm and may not be very suitable to make our creamy, fluffy, sweet casserole.
Moist-fleshed sweet potatoes can be instantly recognized by their redder outer skin than the dry-fleshed, or rather more distinctively, their orange interior. They are moist, sweet and basically a dessert in a shell waiting to be baked and devoured as-is.
So, while the terms aren’t popular in markets, it’s best to choose each kind by their looks (you shouldn’t trust vendors though, explanation below).
Canned Sweet Potatoes
Since we don’t eat it raw, I suppose canned goods will do just fine. However, do choose canned moist-fleshed sweet potatoes (those with orange flesh) and stay away from those submerged in sugar syrup. They are already sweet on their own, and we don’t want any artificial sweeteners to make our dessert too sweet.
Sweet Potatoes vs Yams
Yes, they are different! My friends got their minds blown away when I told them that yams weren’t sweet potatoes. This is also why I told you not to trust vendors, as they might mistakenly give you the wrong product.
The term “Yam”, or “nyami” in African, refers to a type of root that is native to Africa or Asia. Their outer skin is dark, bark-like, whilst their flesh is either white or purple in color.
People sometimes mistake yams and dry-fleshed sweet potatoes. It might be because of their similarity in flesh color and dry texture after being cooked. However, yams are dryer and not sweet at all. Being healthy and all, they are certainly not suitable for our sweet treat!
Fun fact: Yams… also have different kinds! A friend of mine in Vietnam sent me a bag of several purple yams along with a recipe to make a warm soup out of yams and minced meat. It wasn’t like anything I had tried before and now it’s listed as one of my all-time savory favorites. Should I share the recipe online? Leave your comments down below!
White Sugar vs Brown Sugar
Don’t get me wrong on saying we don’t need sugar in this recipe. We don’t need it to further sweeten our sweet potatoes, but rather for a legitimate reason.
This recipe originally calls for brown sugar. Apparently, what makes the sugar brown is a substance called molasses. More than just a coloring agent, this dark-colored component contains micro-nutrients such as Manganese, Magnesium, Potassium, Vitamin B6, etc, which makes it healthier to consume than refined white sugar.
Other than being more nutritious, baked goods with brown sugar inside also have a more interesting texture. I believe it’s no surprise for bakers to acknowledge the difference in texture between white and brown sugar.
Measuring white sugar takes just 2 steps: scoop it with a cup and lever. In the case of measuring brown sugar, since it is not fine like white sugar but “sticky” instead, it takes an extra step: pack, to make sure the sugar mixture is compact and contains no air bubbles.
It is this “sticky” property caused by molasses in brown sugar that makes biscuits, brownies, cookies, etc. of any kind sweetened with brown sugar to have a chewier, softer texture.
So, if you want your dessert to be more of a gift from heaven, do use brown sugar not only as a sweetening agent but also as a catalyst to make it chewier.
Pecans vs Other Nuts
Pecans can be hard to find, especially where I am right now. While it says “pecans” in the recipe, I did make a little twist and bought walnuts instead. It’s not that different in flavor and tasted crunchy and nutty, which is exactly what we want.
Just one more small note and I’ll stop being such an annoying lecturer. Marshmallows genuinely don’t behave any differently than being springy when touched and chewy, and sweet when eaten. Be sure to look at the sugar content and choose those with the least if you’re like me and look at sweet desserts with a different eye.
Sweet Potato Casserole Recipe
- 2 1/2 lb sweet potato puree
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup whole milk
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter soften at room temperature
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp vanilla
- 2 tbsp flour
- 1 1/2 tsp unsalted butter cubes, cold
- 1/2 cup pecan chopped
- 2 cup mini marshmallows
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- In a large bowl, add in sweet potato puree, milk, butter, cinnamon, eggs, 1/4 cup of brown sugar, 1/4 cup of granulated sugar, and season with salt. Pour in a casserole dish and spread into an even layer.
- To make the topping, place flour, cold butter, brown sugar, and pecans into a bowl. Use a fork to stir ingredients together. Sprinkle the mixture over the sweet potato mixture in the baking dish.
- Bake for about 30 minutes until the top is golden.
- Scatter mini marshmallows in a single layer, put back in the oven for about 5 minutes.
- Serve immediately.