Many years ago, I made this chipotle sweet potato puree for my good friend, pie and cake expert Rose Levy Beranbaum. Since that day, we have each made it again and again as a great fall and winter side dish.
Rose likes to add Aleppo pepper_a Turkish crushed chili pepper that has an ancho-like flavor but is slightly sweeter and tart. And, for Thanksgiving, I like to add a crust of mini marshmallows as a nod to everyone's' favorite, candied yams with marshmallows. In this dish, the marshmallows add a nice counter-balance to the smoky heat of the chipotles in adobo sauce and a beautiful crust. And, unlike candied yams, the dish isn't cloyingly sweet.
This dish can be made the day before and re-heated before serving, making it ideal to bring to a Thanksgiving feast or to make in advance if you are hosting the holiday. The recipe has just a few ingredients so it is essential to buy the best quality ingredients that you can find. Make sure to purchase Garnet sweet potatoes which have a deep orange color, and have a silkier texture than other sweet potatoes.
CHIPOTLE SWEET POTATO AND MAPLE SYRUP PUREE
When choosing the potatoes, pick about 5 large or 10 medium-sized potatoes. Make sure the skin is tight, no wrinkles and almost shiny.
Start to finish: One hour and 40 minutes (20 minutes active)
Servings: About 8
5-10 Garnet sweet potatoes about 5 pounds total
1 overflowing cup real maple syrup:
1 cup sour cream
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
2 to 3 canned chipotles in adobo sauce
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Fine sea salt to taste
Mini marshmallows for topping
Preheat oven to 400 F.
Clean any dirt and bad spots off potatoes with a rough brush. Dry well. Coat all over with a little Crisco or olive oil and prick the tops with a fork about three times.
Set the potatoes on a baking sheet lined with a Silpat or aluminum foil. Place in the center of the oven and bake until you can see the sugars oozing out of the fork holes, about 1 hour, or more for larger potatoes. You can also test for doneness by inserting a small sharp knife in the potatoes — if it slips in easily, they are done. Turn off the heat and let sit in the oven for 30-60 minutes to finish baking. They will be silky soft.
Meanwhile, combine maple syrup, sour cream, butter, chipotles in adobo, cinnamon and salt in a small bowl. Scrape the mixture into a food processor and puree until smooth, scraping down the sides as needed.
Peel the potatoes, and add the warm peeled potatoes to the food processor. Process until silky smooth, scraping down the sides as needed.
Taste for seasoning, adding more salt, or maple syrup if needed. If the mixture is too stiff, add a bit more butter and/or sour cream. Transfer to an oven-safe casserole dish.
Just before serving, sprinkle top with mini marshmallows and set in a 400 F oven for 5-7 minutes until browned and puffy. Be sure to watch as the marshmallows can go from brown to black quickly.
If making in advance: Store covered in the refrigerator. Remove and place in a preheated 350 F oven for 45 minutes or until hot throughout. Just before serving, sprinkle top with mini marshmallows and bake at 400 F until browned and puffy.
Nutrition information per serving: 406 calories; 147 calories from fat; 17 g fat (11 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 50 mg cholesterol; 250 mg sodium; 61 g carbohydrate; 5 g fiber; 34 g sugar; 3 g protein.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Elizabeth Karmel is a barbecue and Southern foods expert. She is the chef and pit master at online retailer CarolinaCueToGo.com and the author of three books, including "Taming the Flame."