Friday, November 23, 2012

Nicoll's Sweet Potato Casserole

Sweet potatoes at Thanksgiving have typically been covered in tiny marshmallows and always the subject of the "crap, did I burn them" moment in the kitchen at that crucial time when the marshmallows are to be melted and browned but certainly not crispy (aka burnt).

They have not always been the star of my Thanksgiving plate, not even really in the bull pin of the spotlight for me, but for whatever reason, one clearly beyond my realm of knowledge, they are a must have each and every year!

This year, since no one jumped at the gun to make them I thought I would change it up a bit and make the sweet potatoes my best friend, Nicoll, had previously made for our Pre-Thanksgiving Thanksgiving dinner.  They were delicious!!! So much so that when we were dividing up the leftovers I grabbed as many bags as I could to put in my freezer so I could pull them out later in the winter for a delicious dinner.

I thought surely no one would notice or care, after all it didn't seem like I had heard anyone discuss them as their "favorite" menu item in the past.  Nothing close to the gravy or even how passionately my uncle loves the jellied cranberry sauce that coves out of the can.

I thought I was safe with this small menu change.

I was sadly and sorely mistaken.  As I sat down to dinner my cousin sat next to me and with a perplexed look on his face he started scooting his food around like he was looking for something.  He suddenly looked up at me and asked "Where are the marshmallows".  This is not a 6 year old we are talking about here, this is my 26 year old cousin, but everyone has their thing and evidently the marshmallows were his.

A few moments later his brother sat down on the other side of me and asked the SAME question!  My aunt and I burst into laughter as we had never known how much they loved those little puffs of sugar!  

Alas these sweet potatoes were acceptable as well seeing as they did have crumbled gingersnaps on top but for future reference I must remember that if I am going to change up the sweet potatoes I had better throw some marshmallows on there for good measure!

Nicoll's Sweet Potato Casserole
6 sweet potatoes
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/3 cup half and half
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cold butter, cut into pieces
32 coarsley crushed gingersnap cookies

Cook sweet potatoes in Dutch oven in boiling water to cover over medium heat 30 minutes or until tender.  Cool; peel and mash potatoes.  Combine mashed sweet potatoes, 1/2 cup brown sugar and next 4 ingredients in a mixing bowl, beat at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth (or mash with potato masher until smooth).   Spoon into a greased 2 1/2 quart or 13x9-inch baking dish.  Combine 1/2 cup brown sugar and flour.  Cut in 1/4 cup cold butter with pastry blender until crumbly.  Stir in crushed gingersnaps.  Sprinkle streusel over sweet potatoes.  Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until streusel is lightly browned.  
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