A Southern Grace: a dessert masquerading as a side dish

March 30, 2008

a dessert masquerading as a side dish


Oh, beloved sweet potato casserole. Who do you think you're fooling? Sure, you may be served alongside a baked ham or roasted turkey, but you're no side dish. Something so naturally sweet topped with brown sugar, cinnamon, coconut, and oats is clearly dessert. I'm on to you, sweet potato casserole. I'm smarter than I look.

Given my sweet tooth, it's no surprise that sweet potato casserole is my favorite side dish (if you're comfortable calling it that). I've already confessed that it usually takes up a good chunk of my plate during holiday meals.

This recipe is loosely based on the one taught to me by my grandma. I say "loosely based" because I've tweaked it over the years and made it my own. The end result is a smooth and creamy cinnamon-tinged sweet tater base with a crispy, coconutty, cinnamon streuselicious topping (I do love me some cinnamon...). It's so dessert-like, I'd say I feel guilty eating it as a side dish, but that would be a blatant lie. And I may be a lot of things, but I'm no liar.

Sweet Potater Casserole
3 cups sweet potatoes, cooked, peeled, and mashed
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup milk (more or less, to desired consistency)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Streusel Topping:
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup oats
1/2 cup coconut
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup margarine or butter, cold

In a mixing bowl, thoroughly combine sweet potatoes, sugar, egg, milk, vanilla, and cinnamon.
Pour into 9x9" greased baking dish or a casserole dish of similar size.
Mix the topping ingredients together, cut in the margarine or butter until crumbly, and sprinkle over the potato mixture.
Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes, or until the topping is properly brown and crunchy.

Interesting side note: Sweet taters have lots of anticancer properties, mostly stemming from their beta-carotene, which may protect DNA in the cell nucleus from cancer-causing chemicals. Because of this, I'm using this post as a contribution to an event created by Chris at Mele Cotte--the second annual Cooking to Combat Cancer. I would be remiss if I didn't say just how much I respect and admire people who attack cancer head-on. I can only hope that I would be that strong in such a situation.

On a lighter note, tomorrow is Tater Day, certainly a day worth celebrating!


Anonymous said...

Terrific photos! I don't like sweet potatoes cooked "sweet", but you've almost convinced me to give it another try.

RecipeGirl said...

I don't like them super sweet, but yours look droolworthy!

Gigi said...

...yummy! Sweet potato casserole here I come!

Anonymous said...

So yummy and such good pictures I had to submit it to Tastespotting and you're in! I usually only make this once a year, but I think I'll have to change that. :)

Emily said...

For some reason I always click on the comments when I mean to click on, yes there's more.

I love sweet potatoes in any form. This looks wonderful, with the coconut. Why limit ourselves to just eating sweet potatoes on Thanksgiving?

Unknown said...

Wow! This looks sinfully delicious! I am a huge, HUGE fan of sweet potatoes and this topping? Are you kidding me? A side item, desserts, whatever...I wouldn't need a plate. :) Thanks so much for participating in CCC2! This is going to be a fabulous addition to the round up.

eatme_delicious said...

Wow that is some side dish! I've never experienced the sweet sweet potato side dish or casserole really. The coconut on top sounds goood.

Kate said...

What a fabulous looking dish, thanks for sharing it. I adore sweet potatoes and yams, however, when they are served as a side dish, I like them just with butter, salt, and pepper. The tater is sweet enough on its own that I actually avoid the typical marshmallow drenched side dish at holiday meals (too sweet for me), EXCEPT or UNLESS I'm intentionally eating it AS dessert.

This recipe looks so darn good -- coconut and oats, oh my -- that I'd really enjoy it as dessert. It's just a bonus that it's one of the planet's superfoods.

Anonymous said...

ooh. i loves me some sweet potatoes. i've never seen a SP casserole with such a hearty, crunch-tastic topping! must try.

The Peanut Butter Boy said...

Genius! I love sweet potato but have never made a casserole from it. I just went to a random but really good diner in NYC and one of the specials for the day was a sweet potato turkey hash topped with 2 eggs. It was really good, I poured some gravy on it too (gravy turns out to be real good on eggs). I'll be devising a recipe for that soon, I may incorporate this recipe into it. Thanks for the idea!

- The Peanut Butter Boy

Pixie said...

Me again...

I knew I should have picked up that bowl of sweet potatoes at the market today. Humph. Ah well, will have to wait till next week now.

Looks sooo good, need to make it for myself to find out just how good. :)

Tabby said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
test it comm said...

That sweet potato casserole looks really good! I just discovered the sweet potato casserole last year.

Anonymous said...

Oooo, you are making my mouth water. Coconut over sweet potato casserole, delish!

Lore said...

I LOVE sweet potatoes and that makes pretty much every sweet potato recipe a must-try. Your photos are great!

Sherre said...

I made this for Thanksgiving and everyone love it! Thank you so much.