I wish I had known then what I know now about “sweet potatoes” vs. “yams”. Especially those canned yams. Uhg. I hated “sweet potato casserole” my whole life until I realized I wasn’t even eating real sweet potatoes!
I wasn’t even eating fresh yams, they were just those icky canned ones. Well, no wonder!!
Quite a few years ago, I decided to “go all out” for my hubby and make him a sweet potato casserole from scratch, and that’s when I learned that there’s quite an HUMUNGOUS difference between the two!
These two potatoes don’t even have the same flavor at all. Sweet potatoes are actually quite sweet naturally and yams are not. Not at all.
To tell the difference between the two is actually very easy. Yams are shaped like regular potatoes in that they are rounded on the ends just like russets and most all of the other potato varieties.
Whereas, sweet potatoes are smaller and have pointy ends. If you remember this and this alone, you’ll never forget and be able to pick them out of the crowd immediately.
They also, most of the time, come wrapped individually. Here’s a picture of them for you so you can see for yourself exactly what I’m talking about.
See? Very pointy ends. No mistaking them. Then they’re simply peeled, cut into large bite-sized chunks, and boiled until just tender.
While they’re boiling, I make a quick candied sauce to pour over and then they can be held in the fridge for a few days even until needed, or baked right away.
I love make-ahead dishes for holidays!! Takes the pressure and stress away!
Then they’re simply baked until all candied and coated, turning at least once, then topped with marshmallows and baked just until the marshmallows are puffed and deep golden!
*You have to watch the marshmallows closely, though, because just like roasting them over an open fire, they can burn and catch fire quickly!
I only turn the broiler on LOW because I’m actually terrified of fire! If they do happen to catch fire, just remove the pan from the oven and cover with a large lid, baking sheet, or towel to smother it and put it out. Scrape off the burnt, re-top, and call “do-overs”!
Me and a friend of mine actually did this once! Scared me to death, but then we laughed and laughed about it!
No biggie. It happens a lot I hear! So just watch them carefully and remove immediately once they brown and you’ll be fine.
This year, I actually upped them even more by adding a little butter rum extract for extra fun! The hubs flipped! When he walked into the kitchen while they were baking, he asked what I was making that was “butterscotch”! When I told him the sweet potatoes, I swear I saw his mouth water right before my eyes!
They turned out spectacular! And I didn’t even have to call the fire department! 😀
So, though Thanksgiving has come and gone for this year, these also go really well with ham for Christmas, hint, hint! And now you’ll have the recipe for next year anyways. 😉
These don’t have to wait for the holidays though, they also are a nice surprise in the summertime to accompany grilled pork tenderloin or chops, too!
So I hope this helps with any upcoming holiday menu planning, special occasion, or even just a nice Sunday supper surprise for the family! They’re so very easy to make, wonderfully sweet and delicious, and are loved by all!
Happy Holidays all and have a beautiful day! 🙂
MAPLE, BUTTERSCOTCH & CINNAMON SWEET POTATOES with PECANS & MARSHMALLOWS
3-4 fresh sweet potatoes (no more than 2 lbs. but less is ok), peeled and cut into chunks (about 8-10 chunks per potato depending on size of potato)
1/2 stick real butter (1/4 cup)
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 – 1/2 tsp. butter rum extract, depending on strength of brand but start with a 1/4 tsp. only
1/2 cup coarse chopped pecans
mini marshmallows, about a half a bag to cover completely
Peel sweet potatoes, cut into chunks, and add to a small pot with water to cover. Add 1 tsp. salt to water. Bring to a boil and boil for 12-15 minutes until just tender or al dente.
While potatoes are boiling, or wait until they’re done if you’d like, (the potatoes can sit in a colander no problem), make the sauce.
In a small saucepan, add rest of ingredients except marshmallows. Bring to a full boil stirring occasionally and scraping sides of the pan, remove from heat and stir in extracts. Set aside.
When potatoes are done, dump into colander to drain. Place into a sprayed, shallow 2 1/2 qt. baking dish. (*I use my oval white corning ware one for this dish.) Arrange chunks of potatoes gently to fill bottom and gaps.
Sprinkle evenly with chopped pecans and pour sauce over evenly. Bake, uncovered, in a 350 degree oven for 30-40 minutes until potatoes are very tender. GENTLY turn potatoes halfway through baking time. Be careful doing this as sauce will be very hot and potatoes can easily break apart. (Turn carefully.) Remove from oven and turn oven temp to low to medium broil. Whatever you’re comfortable with doing.
Top evenly with a nice layer of mini marshmallows completely covering. Place back into the oven and WATCH! When they poof up and turn golden brown REMOVE IMMEDIATELY or they may catch fire. This is actually VERY easy so don’t fret. They only catch fire if you’re in a juicy conversation and not paying attention. Jus’ sayin’. 😉
And if you do accidentally burn them, don’t worry. Just scrape off the burnt, re-top and call “do overs”! No biggie. 😉 Serve warm.