I’m a little behind the Thanksgiving game this year! Actually, who am I kidding? I’m always down to the wire on holiday blogging and menu planning. Mom and I will be sharing the Thanksgiving preparations this year. She’s a planner. She keeps me on track. Mom keeps asking me, Did you figure out what you’re making yet? Do you know what you’re making yet? How about the pumpkin pie? In my head, I think, Be cool mama, be cool…I got this. In reality, when I’m at the grocery store in holiday madness mode the day before Thanksgiving, my mom will be peacefully baking apple pie accompanied by the crooning of Frank Sinatra. She may be onto something…
For all my fellow menu-procrastinators, a recipe that went over really well last year (and didn’t quite get around to posting in time, surprise, surprise). It’s inspired by one of my favorite sweet potato casserole recipes shared with my mom and I by a friend of the family. The problem with most Thanksgiving recipes is that if you are lactose-ally or glutonially challenged (yes, I made up those words), you miss out on the best dishes.
Not anymore! If you are strategic and resourceful (which of course you are–all my readers are cunning and clever!), you’ll volunteer to bring the dishes that are traditionally dairy or gluten heavy, and you’ll wow everybody with the fact that yes, food can be stupid good, even without loads of milk, flour and sugar!
The sweet potato casserole I used to eat at our Thanksgiving table growing up was sugar-coma sweet with the help of syrupy condensed milk, and topped with a brown sugar walnut crumble topping. So delicious. Since I just can’t do it anymore, I’ve enjoyed re-vamping my favorite recipes into less processed, less sweet versions that still satisfy my warm cozy tradition craving.
This version is made of velvety smooth sweet potatoes with just a hint of bourbon and spice, topped with crunchy cinnamon spiced bourbon and toasted pecans. Its sweetness hints at dessert, doesn’t spoil it, and it goes perfectly with the cranberry sauce that will inevitably make its way over to the sweet potatoes on your plate. Thanksgiving is not a holiday for the food separatists!
If you’re a procrastinator, here’s your recipe! If you are a planner like my mom, tuck this one in the file for next year. I hope you have a lovely Thanksgiving, and enjoy some kitchen shenanigans!
- For the sweet potatoes:
- 5 pounds yams or orange-fleshed sweet potatoes, peeled
- 1 stick (1/2 cup) vegan butter such as Earth Balance (or use real butter)
- ¾ cup unsweetened almond milk
- ¾ cups real maple syrup
- big pinch of kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons bourbon
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- For the glazed pecans:
- 2 cups pecans
- ⅓ cup maple syrup
- ⅓ cup sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- 2½ tablespoons bourbon
- ⅓ cup vegan butter
- Cut the peeled sweet potatoes into 1 inch pieces and place in a large saucepan. Fill with water to cover the potatoes by 1 inch, and bring to a boil over high heat. Once it begins to boil, set the timer and boil for an additional 15-20 minutes, or until the potatoes are soft but not falling apart. Drain, then mash with a potato masher or wire whisk in the bowl of a mixer.
- In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the butter, almond milk, maple syrup, salt, and bourbon. Heat and stir until the butter melts.
- Add the melted butter mixture to the potatoes in the mixing bowl. Using the whisk attachment of an electric mixer, whip the potatoes at medium speed until completely smooth. Set aside.
- Preheat oven to 350˚F.
- Toast the pecans in a nonstick frying pan over medium heat. Once the pecans are fragrant and appear slightly darkened, remove them from the pan and chop. Put them back in the pan over medium high heat. Add the maple syrup, sugar, salt, and cinnamon. Cook, stirring constantly, until the sugar melts. Once the sugar melts, add the bourbon, and let it the liquid cook off for about a minute. Add the butter and stir to coat.
- Spread the sweet potato mixture into an 11×8 inch casserole dish. Spread the nut mixture evenly on top. Bake at 350˚F for 20-30 minutes, until hot.
- Note: This recipe can be assembled and refrigerated the day before. The cooking time may need to be increased by 5-10 minutes.