Sweet Potato Surprise
A Thanksgiving Special!

Adapted from Still Life with Menu
Preparation time: 1 hour
Yield: 8 to 10 servings

Puréed sweet potatoes are combined with fresh ginger and sweet spices, plus several bold surprises. The effect is delicious but subtle, and your guests will have trouble identifying all the ingredients.

* NOTE: This can be assembled a day ahead and stored unbaked and tightly covered in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before baking.

4 pounds sweet potatoes
2 tablespoons butter and/or canola oil
2 medium-sized green apples or ripe pears, peeled and sliced
2 medium-sized ripe bananas, peeled and sliced
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon salt
Oil spray or butter for the pan
1 1/2 cups apple juice
1/2 cup fresh lemon or lime juice
1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
1/4 cup minced crystallized ginger (optional)
2 cups chopped pecans (optional)

  1. Peel the sweet potatoes, cut them into chunks, and boil or steam until soft. Drain well and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, melt the butter or heat the oil in a deep skillet or Dutch oven. Stir in the apples, bananas, fresh ginger, cinnamon, allspice, and salt. Cook slowly, covered, but stirring intermittently, for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the fruit becomes saucelike. Remove from heat and set aside.
  3. Preheat oven to 350°F. Oil-spray or butter a 9 x 13-inch baking dish or deep casserole.
  4. Place the drained sweet potatoes in a food processor, and add the fruit juices. Purée until smooth, then transfer to the potful of cooked fruit.
  5. Stir well, adding the apricots and optional crystallized ginger as you go. Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking pan, spreading it evenly into place. Top with chopped pecans, if desired.
  6. Bake uncovered for 45 minutes, and serve hot or warm.
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