My first thought was that this dish is so traditional and so very simple that the majority surely already know how to make it and could not possibly be interested, so I hadn’t really planned to include it on my blog — but apparently I was mistaken and wrong because I have actually received a quite few requests for it.
Sweet Potatoes (or Yams) with Toasted Marshmallow Topping
Some like to add chopped pecans or walnuts to this dish, but it was not usually done in our family recipe since pecans and/or walnuts were usually already quite abundant in so many other dishes. However, it is very delicious fixed that way and if this sounds like something you would like — then go for it!
Canned cut sweet potatoes or yams
Optional: allspice, ginger, ground clove, chopped nuts (i.e. pecans, walnuts)
Preheat oven to 350 F degrees.
Butter the bottom and sides any preferred size baking dish.
Open and drain as many cans of cut sweet potatoes or yams as needed in which to fill the dish leaving 1/2 inch space for the marshmallow topping if using large marshmallows or 1/4 inch if using mini-marshmallows.
Toss the sweet potatoes or yams with the desired quantity of ground cinnamon and brown sugar.
Optional: May also add a small quantity of allspice, ginger, and/or ground clove if desired.
Pour or spoon into the buttered baking dish.
Place pats of unsalted butter dotted across the top.
Bake on the center rack until very hot and heated through. Remove from the oven.
Increase oven temperature to 475 F degrees.
Top dish with a layer of marshmallows and return to the oven then watch very closely until the marshmallows have melted, puffed, and toasted to a light or moderate golden brown. Turn the dish front to back if needed for a more even browning.
Notes and Tips
For a 13 x 9 baking dish, I use approximately 8 to 10 pats of butter, 4 to 6 Tbsp. brown sugar, 1/2 to 1 tsp. cinnamon, and sometimes I’ll chose to add about a scant 1/8 tsp. ginger or a pinch of ground clove and/or a pinch of allspice. It’s really just a matter of personal taste preference as to how much you use.
Some like a very few marshmallows scattered on top and some like it completely covered.
For those who want them to be pretty and stay whole but worry that too much manipulation will result in them falling apart, cream the seasonings and brown sugar together with the butter that goes on top which allows it to drip down over and around them as it melts during baking. Drop quarter to half teaspoon sized dollops generously across the top.
A 15 ounce can contains only about 9 ounces of cut sweet potatoes or yams. Cut sweet potatoes and yams are sold by weight with the liquid included in the total so the number and size of sweet potatoes or yams inside may vary greatly from one can to the next. You may open a can and find two tiny and one very large sweet potato or yam or open another that has several small to moderate sized ones. For a 13 x 9 dish I usually purchase as many as 6 cans just to make sure I’ll have enough then open and drain them one at a time just until I have what is needed.
If mashing, then fresh sweet potatoes and yams can be baked a day or two ahead of time and mashed when ready to make the dish — or drained home canned ones can be used for either mashed or cut. Otherwise, I find having to cook fresh ones on the stove top before they can be used to make the dish to be an additional and time consuming step that I personally prefer not to deal with during the busy holidays — for results that are essentially identical — when I can just open a can from the store and it is a product that can be easily found without any unwanted additives.
I have a friend who mashes her sweet potatoes and after mixing with brown sugar and cinnamon stirs in a cup of chopped pecans, half of a large onion minced, and a few tablespoons of honey mustard. Another friend does something very similar but uses a special sweet and spicy mustard shipped to her from Hawaii. One uses no marshmallows. The other stirs in mini-marshmallows only after it has fully cooled so they are left whole and un-melted.
I have other friends who mash their sweet potatoes or yams too, with or without nuts, but still use a toasted marshmallow topping.
Another friend simmers her sweet potatoes or yams on the stove top before draining, then without using any other seasonings at all she simply blends them together in her food processor with poppy seed dressing then stirs in some chopped green onions.
Another heats his on the stove top, removes with a slotted spoon, then in a food processor blends them with only some marshmallow creme fluff from a jar, nuts, and a bit of cinnamon while still very hot and serves it in a bowl.
Another simply heats them on the stove top with butter added before draining, tosses with brown sugar and cinnamon, pours into the baking dish, tops with marshmallows, and only puts it in the oven to toast the marshmallows.
Another creams her sweet potatoes or yams with cream cheese, nuts, and a pumpkin pie seasoning blend and makes a lightly toasted crumb topping instead of using toasted marshmallows. The creamed mixture is spread into a buttered casserole dish. After oven heating well, the crumb topping is added and lightly toasted then the dish is cooled and refrigerated covered to chill overnight and served cold. The crumb topping is made with crushed Graham crackers, granulated and brown sugars, and cinnamon with just enough melted butter to moisten.
Another quarters room temperature drained sweet potatoes or yams, tosses them together in a serving bowl with melted butter, cinnamon, ground clove, brown sugar, nuts, drained cubed pineapple chunks, and mini-marshmallows, then chills covered for a few hours or overnight before serving cold.
Some stir nuts into the dish and others use it as a topping without marshmallows before baking the dish — while others sprinkle them on after adding the marshmallows then toast in the oven.