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Sweet Potato Puree with Marshmallow and Pecans

Sweet potatoes always remind me of Mrs. Ticer and my mom, says Chef Michael Hudman, both of whom cook them for Thanksgiving every year. We do our play on their holiday dishes with brown sugar, pie spices, butter, toasted pecans and a homemade marshmallow topping, to create this sweet potato dish that stays on the menu at Hog & Hominy all winter long.

Ingredients:

For the marshmallow:

  • 5 sheets gold leaf gelatin
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped
  • 1/4 cup (2 fl. oz./60 ml) water
  • 3/4 cup (6 oz./185 g) granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup (7 1/2 oz./235 g) plus 2 Tbs. light corn syrup
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt

For the pecans:

  • 1 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 2 cups (8 oz./250 g) pecans

For the sweet potato puree:

  • 4 orange-fleshed sweet potatoes, about 2 lb. (1 kg) total
  • 1 Tbs. light brown sugar
  • 2 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 1 Tbs. kosher salt
  • 20 grates of fresh nutmeg
  • Pinch of ground cinnamon

Directions:

To make the marshmallow, using your hands, break up the gelatin sheets into small pieces. Put the pieces in a bowl along with the vanilla bean seeds and water. Let stand until softened, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, in a large, heavy saucepan, combine the granulated sugar, corn syrup and salt and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer until the sugar is dissolved, then remove from the heat and pour into a heatproof measuring pitcher.

Pour the gelatin mixture into the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on medium speed until frothy, 10 to 15 minutes. While continuing to beat, slowly pour the hot sugar mixture into the gelatin mixture, then continue to beat until soft peaks form, about 10 minutes. Continue to beat until the marshmallow has a light, fluffy but sticky texture; be careful not to overmix or the mixture will separate.

Transfer the marshmallow mixture to a pastry bag fitted with a small fluted tip and set aside at room temperature. Do not refrigerate the marshmallow.

To prepare the pecans, warm a fry pan over medium heat and add the butter. When the butter foams, add the pecans and toss until toasted, about 2 minutes. Drain on a paper towel and set aside.

To make the sweet potato puree, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Meanwhile, peel the sweet potatoes and cut them into equal-size pieces. When the water is boiling, drop in the sweet potatoes and cook until tender when pierced with a knife, about 10 minutes. Drain well.

Transfer the sweet potatoes to a food processor and add the brown sugar, butter, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon. Pulse until the mixture is smooth. Transfer the sweet potato puree to a saucepan and warm over medium heat, stirring, until heated through, about 5 minutes.

To serve, transfer the puree to a warmed heatproof serving bowl or individual bowls. Pipe the marshmallow on top of the puree in a circular motion until the surface is nearly covered. Using a kitchen torch, lightly char the marshmallow. Garnish with the pecans and serve immediately.­ Serves 4.

Adapted from Collards & Carbonara, by Andrew Ticer & Michael Hudman (Olive Press, 2013).