It’s a little while yet to Thanksgiving, but I’ve got a special reason for bringing you a recipe for sweet potato souffle in October!
The other day I began thinking about Thanksgiving because we’ll be getting a very special visitor. My sister-in-law, who has endured some difficult times but has risen above them, will be spending it with us. It looks like we’re going to have a houseful!
A full house on the actual Thanksgiving holiday is unusual for us. Although my husband’s kids and grandkids live only about 30 minutes away, our Thanksgiving celebration with them was moved to the Sunday after Thanksgiving so they could spend the actual holiday with their mother. No big deal for us; we feel we should be thankful and celebrate gratitude every day!
So that my husband and I weren’t just hanging out with each other on Thanksgiving (which is not a bad thing), our dear friends, Bill and Jo Baker would have us over. That’s where I met Jeannie, Bill’s sister (and Jo’s sister-in-law) and experienced my first sweet potato casserole–Jeannie’s Sweet Potato Souffle to be exact. As you recall, I’m from the north so as with most Southern fare, I also had never had a sweet potato casserole before moving to Tennessee. I’d only heard about them and thought adding sugar to sweet potatoes was culinary insanity. After trying Jeannie’s sweet potato souffle, I was in love.
… and Jeannie with brother (our friend), Bill.
Jeannie’s full name was Gwenda Jean Baker Carstens. She loved to cook as much as me, Jean is my middle name, so we hit it off immediately. She also loved to laugh and needless to say, we all had a delightful Thanksgiving together.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get to know Jeanne much more as she developed breast cancer and passed away in May of 2009.
This disease has affected the lives of too many women I know. Thankfully, because of early detection, most are still here–healthy and happy. So ladies, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and if you’re over 40 or due for a mammogram, please get it scheduled. I did mine several months ago, and they’re not as painful as they used to be thanks to new technology. So get ‘er done, okay?
I loved this souffle so much, Jo got the recipe from Jeannie for me. After she passed away, I continued to make this casserole for our annual Thanksgiving get-together with the Bakers in her honor.
You may be wondering what exactly is the difference between a sweet potato casserole and a sweet potato souffle?
Casserole and souffle are used interchangeably. Jeannie’s recipe calls for more eggs than a standard sweet potato casserole, and because the holidays will soon be upon us, let’s be fancy and go with souffle!
In all honesty, I gasped a little bit when I saw the combination of flavorings and extracts but after baking, they all sing together! If you’re concerned, use 1 teaspoon vanilla and cut back on the almond and coconut extracts to 1/2 teaspoon each. Be sure to use pure extracts as imitation flavorings are where you can really go wrong.
Her recipe calls for a cup of sugar, but you can easily cut that back to 3/4 cup.
Make this up to a day ahead. Simply get it ready in the baking dish you plan to use, refrigerate, but don’t add the nut topping. Add that right before baking.
Here’s to happy and HEALTHY holidays!
- Butter or cooking spray for baking dish
- 4 pounds sweet potatoes (6-7 medium), peeled and cubed
- Salt for cooking potatoes plus 1/4 teaspoon
- 1 stick unsalted butter
- 4 large eggs, beaten
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup whole milk
- 3 tablespoons self-rising flour
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 1 teaspoon coconut extract
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans
- 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar, packed
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter or spray a 13 x 9-inch baking dish. Set aside.
Cook potatoes in salted water to cover until fork-tender, approximately 20-25 minutes. Melt butter in a large bowl. (I do this over the pot of potatoes but be careful to not let them boil over.) Drain well, then process through a food mill or potato ricer into the melted butter. Stir to blend.
Whisk together eggs, sugar, milk, flour, extracts and 1/4 teaspoon salt until smooth. Add to bowl with potatoes and butter and stir well to combine.
Transfer to prepared baking dish. Combine pecans, brown sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Sprinkle evenly over the top of the souffle. Bake for 1 hour or until puffed. Serve immediately.
In place of the self-rising flour, use 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour and a pinch of baking soda. I've used only all-purpose flour and it has worked fine.
For a streusel-style topping, add 3-4 tablespoons all-purpose flour and 2-3 tablespoons softened butter to the pecan, brown sugar and cinnamon combination.