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Dessert Tue Nov 24 2009
For those of you who might be looking for a twist on the tradition for the upcoming Turkey Day, here's a sweet potato recipe that's not topped with marshmallows. I made this baked custard when we did our last backyard grilling of the year, a few weeks back. We slowly roasted a big, fat sweet potato on a cooler corner of the grill, and instead of making this ginger yam/sweet potato salad that we are addicted to, I made it into baked custard. The sweet potato can be baked in the oven, of course--it can even be microwaved or boiled, though the latter two methods just don't compare to the slow-roasting on charcoal when it comes to earthy sweetness.
The recipe yields something that's between a fluffy cake and dense custard, with a deeply satisfying sweetness coming naturally from the slow-grilled sweet potato. I think it's even better on the second day. It's easy, too--once you have the sweet potato cooked, it's just a matter of mixing everything and waiting for the oven to do its job.
BAKED SWEET POTATO CUSTARD
(enough to fill two 8-inch round pans)
1 large sweet potato (about 1 lb cooked)
5 tbsp. maple syrup
2/3 c. fresh cream
1 c. milk
3 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1. Slow-cook the sweet potato on a charcoal grill. We threw the sweet potato on the coolest part of the grill when we start grilling, and keep it on until most of the embers die down. Occasionally move and turn the sweet potato around to prevent too much charring. You'll know when it's done, because the intense, sweet aroma will be quite torturous. If unsure, poke it with a skewer; if the skewer pokes through without any resistance, it's done.
2. Cool the sweet potato and peel by hand. (Sweet potato can be refrigerated for a few days at this point.)
3. In a medium sauce pan, start boiling 1 to 2 quarts of water. Preheat the oven to 320 degrees.
4. In a large mixing bowl, place the sweet potato, maple syrup and milk. Using a bar mixer, mix until it forms a smooth paste. Add all the remaining ingredients, and pulse until well mixed.
5. Pour the mixture into two pans through a fine mesh strainer. Place the pans in a container (casserole or sheet pan) large enough to hold the pans. The container should have sides at least 2 inches tall. Pour the boiling water in the container so that it'll come up about halfway up the sides of the pans. Bake for 50 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Serve it with whipped cream.
This recipe is an adaptation of one in this Japanese cookbook that has dozens of delicious custard recipes.