It’s November! Which means I am thinking about Thanksgiving. I love to host, and this year we have lots of family coming to town. I can’t wait!
Thanksgiving dinner is incredibly comforting to me. The familiar dishes that I make and eat during this time of year evoke special memories of childhood holiday dinners and now my own family feasts ... cranberry bread, corn pudding, trays of black olives and gherkins, turkey and, of course, pumpkin pie – I can never get enough pie! In addition to our traditional menu, I like to add a little something new each year, such as a creative twist on cranberry sauce or stuffing.
This year, I have in mind a riff on the sweet potatoes of my youth – a parfait if you will. Sweet potatoes are loaded with healthy nutrients and extremely tasty, so we eat them year-round. When Thanksgiving arrives, though, nothing beats indulging in sweet potatoes with soft, melting marshmallows and a golden, toasty top ... just the way I had growing up. Brown sugar intensified the creamy sweetness of the potatoes and crunchy pecans added texture and nutty flavor.
With these ingredients in mind, I created individual parfaits. Maple syrup sweetened sweet potatoes are layered with cinnamon spiced pecans and then topped with gooey, toasty marshmallows. Making these in small jars or ramekins is quite festive and pretty and feels extra special. You could easily make this in one large baking dish, though. An added bonus is you can make these ahead of time (handy to have the jar lids to use as covers), and then top with the marshmallows at the last minute and pop under the broiler.
Your spoon will shatter the crunchy marshmallow top and slip into a sweet little pot of fall flavors ... pure nostalgia.
Sweet Potato Parfaits
Makes 5 individual servings
2 large sweet potatoes (roughly 2 pounds total), roasted until soft
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup, preferably Grade B
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
8 ounces raw pecans, toasted for a few minutes in the oven and cooled
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons unsalted butter, room temperature
10 large marshmallows
Have five small jars or ramekins ready to fill. Scoop the sweet potato flesh out into a medium sized bowl. Mash until soft. Add the maple syrup and one teaspoon of kosher salt. Stir until well mixed and set aside.
Combine the cooled pecans, cinnamon, butter and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the nuts are finely ground and ingredients combined.
In each little dish, spoon in two generous tablespoons of the nut mixture and lightly press down to smooth. Add two to three tablespoons of sweet potatoes and smooth to layer. Repeat the process (you should have two layers of each). At this point, you can set aside to finish later in the day or cover and chill for serving the next day.
When ready to serve, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place jars on a baking sheet and top each serving with two marshmallows. Bake for about 8-10 minutes, until the marshmallows start melting and the sweet potatoes are warm. Flip on the broiler and watch closely until the marshmallow tops are golden brown and crisp. Remove and serve (jars will be hot, so place on small plates or saucers).