Sweet potatoes have always played the mystery role at my holiday table: my guests never know what to expect. Do we go savory by roasting wedges wrapped in prosciutto and a thyme sprig? After all, there are only so many times you can serve the classic sweet potato casserole loaded with marshmallows.
This alternative sweet potato side was one of my favorites. Forgoing the traditional cobbler-biscuit topping, I used self-rising flour to make a streusel-style garnish. Boiling the sweet potatoes with sugar and spices adds flavor and cuts the cooking time in half. Best of all, if you top it off with vanilla ice cream, it becomes a dessert!
For the sweet potatoes:
- 4 large sweet potatoes (peeled and sliced into 1-inch rounds)
- 8 cups water
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- In a large pot over high heat, combine the sweet potatoes and the water. Bring to a boil and stir in remaining ingredients: sugar, cinnamon and ginger.
- Simmer for 10 minutes over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until the sweet potatoes are close to fork tender.
- Turn off the heat, reserving the liquid. Using a slotted spoon, scoop out the sweet potatoes and set on a separate plate to cool slightly until ready to handle.
- Save 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid for the cobbler preparation.
Cobbler-streusel topping, layering and baking:
- 1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
- 1/2 cup dark brown sugar (packed, plus 2 additional tablespoons for garnish)
- 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter (cut into cubes, plus more for baking dish)
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
- 1/2 cup whole milk
1. Set the oven at 350 degrees. Butter a 2 1/2 quart oval baking dish, and set aside until ready to layer the cobbler.
2. Take a small mixing bowl and combine the flour, cinnamon, salt, ginger, nutmeg and brown sugar.
3. Using a pastry cutter or your fingers, press the cold cubes of butter into the flour mixture until the butter resembles thin sheets and is fully incorporated.
4. Take the cooled sweet potato slices and layer them into the prepared baking dish. Pour in the 1/2 cup of reserved cooking liquid from boiling the sweet potatoes.
5. Stir in the chopped walnuts. Using a fork, combine the milk with the flour mixture, stirring continuously until all the milk is absorbed, but mixture remains chunky.
6. Sprinkle the cobbler-streusel topping onto the sweet potatoes in one thick layer, breaking up larger streusel pieces as you go. Gently press the topping into the dish with your hands, then sprinkle with remaining brown sugar.
7. Place in the oven and bake for 35 minutes. Tent the top with foil if streusel begins to brown too quickly. Remove from the oven and serve as your new favorite Thanksgiving side.