The holidays are a perfect time to gather around the table and share a wonderful meal together. But when my family gets together, there tends to be a difference of opinion on a particular side dish: my great-grandmother’s sweet potato casserole.
When it comes to the topping for the casserole in question, that’s where my clan is truly divided. Half of my family prefers the traditional marshmallow topping. The rest would rather have a sweet and crunchy brown sugar pecan topping. That’s when I decided to create a casserole that has both toppings. I started with my great-grandmother’s original recipe, but added more spices and flavors to reflect this wonderful time of year. With it’s brown sugar pecan mixture on one side, and a smooth layer of marshmallow fluff on the other, both sides of the family are satisfied. And when I don this wonderful brown waiter’s apron given to me by my Nana, I remember why we are together; to celebrate and give thanks, despite our differences.
Divided Sweet Potato Casserole
4 cups sweet potatoes, cooked and mashed
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 Tablespoon fresh orange juice (optional)
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups pecans, roughly chopped
1 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup flour
1 (7.5 ounce) jar marshmallow fluff
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 13x9 inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray; set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, add sweet potatoes, sugar, eggs, cream, spices, vanilla and orange juice (if desired). Stir until well incorporated. Pour sweet potato mixture into prepared baking dish.
In a small mixing bowl, combine butter, pecans, brown sugar and flour. Crumble over half of the sweet potato mixture. Spread marshmallow fluff over remaining half of potatoes. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until center is heated through and the marshmallow fluff is light brown and bubbly.
Servings: 8 to 10
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 25 - 30 minutes
Joshua Grotheer is a graduate of the Cecil B. Day School of Hospitality at Georgia State University. A native of Savannah, he began cooking and eating at a very young age. Currently, Joshua works as the assistant to Libbie Summers, Senior Food Editor for Paula Deen. In his spare time, Joshua works as a freelance floral designer.
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