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? Or do you go the classic sweet potato casserole loaded with mini marshmallows on top? How about something totally off the grid? This alternative sweet potato side is 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 healthy, fall seasonal dessert! Serves 6-8
4 large sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1 inch rounds
8 cups water
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon, plus additional teaspoon for topping
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger, plus additional 1/4 teaspoon for topping
1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
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
To prepare the sweet potatoes, in a large pot over high heat, combine the 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.
Set the oven at 350 degrees. Butter a 2 1/2 quart oval baking dish, and set aside until ready to layer the cobbler.
In a small mixing bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, salt, ginger, nutmeg and brown sugar.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 holiday side!