Sweet Potato Casserole with Crunchy Brown Sugar Pecan Topping: A Lighter Version of the Classic Thanksgiving Side Dish (No Marshmallows)

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Buttery mashed sweet potatoes baked with a crunchy-sweet pecan topping is a beloved American side dish for Thanksgiving. One of the earlier places I saw it published was a 40-year-old cookbook celebrating heritage recipes from Georgia--and that recipe likely had its roots in the "sweet potato pudding" published in the first American cookbook, circa 1796.

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With the countdown now on for the big feast, I'm happy to share my version of this show-stopping recipe. It's just as decadent in flavor, but uses less butter, sugar, and flour (you won't miss it!). And if you make it, I promise you will absolutely...

Eat with joy!


~ Cleo Coyle, author of 
The Coffeehouse Mysteries

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I started with the classic version of this casserole herecut an entire stick of butter, some of the sugar, and a small amount of flour. The results? I didn't miss them and neither did my husband, who is never coy about his opinion on good eats. To quote Marc after his first forkful, "Oh, yeah!"

The recipe is versatile, as well. You can make the casserole with brown sugar alone or with maple syrup. You can make it with dairy products or non-dairy.

Finally, I have a tip for making the process a snap on Thanksgiving day: Instead of following the traditional recipe of peeling, dicing, boiling, and mashing the sweet potatoes, try simply baking them alongside your turkey. 

If you follow my method for baking the sweet potatoes, they'll be just as moist as the boiled version, but with less fuss and cleanup. And (the best reason to do this...) baking the potatoes will help them retain more nutrition and flavor. 

🍴


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Cleo Coyle's (Lighter)
Sweet Potato Casserole with
Brown Sugar and Pecans 



Ingredients:

For the casserole:

3 - 4 medium to large sweet potatoes (You will use these to
        make 3-1/2 cups cooked and mashed sweet potatoes)
1/4 cup light brown sugar*
1/4 cup pure maple syrup*
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1/4 cup milk (cow’s low-fat milk or dairy-free almond)
4 tablespoons butter melted (or dairy-free margarine, melted)

*To make this recipe without maple syrup, increase the brown sugar to 1/2 cup and reduce the amount of cooked, mashed sweet potatoes by 1/4 cup.

For the topping:

4 Tablespoons butter, melted (or dairy-free margarine, melted)
1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup light brown sugar
Generous pinch of table salt
1 cup pecans, roughly chopped

Step 1 – Easy-bake sweet potatoes (you can either bake these with your turkey or the night before your Thanksgiving meal): Wash the sweet potatoes and leave skins wet. Tap your inner serial killer and stab the taters a few times with a knife to prevent them from exploding in the oven.


Wrap the sweet potatoes tightly in aluminum foil and bake them in a well-preheated 350 degree F. oven for 90 minutes. Remove them from the oven, but do not unwrap! Allow them to cool in their foil cocoons for 30 minutes. This will keep them nice and moist. Now open and slice each potato in half.


As shown above, scoop out the still-warm flesh, 
which is now very close to pre-mashed for you.


A fork will make quick work of the mashing. 
See the photos above and below.
You want a nice, even consistency. 




Step 2 – Assemble the casserole: Measure out 3-1/2 cups of the cooked and mashed sweet potatoes and combine them with the rest of the casserole ingredients. Stir well. Pour into a well-buttered casserole dish (1-1/2 to 2 quarts in size). The dish you see below is 1-1/2 quarts.


Step 3 – Make the casserole topping: Melt the butter (or margarine) in a small saucepan. Remove the pan from heat, add the topping ingredients to the pan, stir well. The mixture should be damp and crumbly. Distribute it evenly over the casserole top. 



Bake at 350° F. for about 40 minutes. Casserole will be bubbling when finished and some liquid will appear to be pooling in the topping. Don’t worry. As the dish cools, the liquid will settle back into the casserole and the top will become crusty, crunchy, and delicious. So you'll be all set to...



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🍴

Eat with Thanksgiving joy! 

~ Cleo Coyle
New York Times bestselling author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries

Yes, this is me, Cleo (aka Alice). 
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