Warning! If you are diabetic, dieting, or for any other reason trying to control your sugar intake, read no further. If, however, you are looking for new and wonderful ways to indulge during the holiday season, hazelnut praline sweet potatoes might just be for you.
The toasty crunch of the caramelized hazelnuts is a nice contrast to the creamy, maple-flavored sweet potatoes. Watch carefully as you melt the sugar to make the praline topping. It goes from ‘just melted’ to ‘burnt’ quite quickly.
If you want to make this dish a little ahead of time, keep the nuts separate until ready to bake so they retain their crunch. You can skip the nuts altogether if you like, reducing the amount of sugar in the process. Or, better yet, just eat this instead of that piece of pie you were planning on for dessert.
1 cup hazelnuts
½ cup light brown sugar
1 tablespoon maple syrup
2 large sweet potatoes (about 2 pounds)
2 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons maple syrup
¼ cup, plus 2 teaspoons light brown sugar
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon cloves
¼ teaspoon ginger
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
2 eggs, lightly beaten
To make the praline topping, preheat oven to 350°. Spread hazelnuts evenly on baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes, then rub with dry towel to remove some of the skins. Chop nuts and set aside.
Heat skillet over medium to medium low heat. Add brown sugar and maple syrup. Let sugar heat and melt, without stirring, until it has reached a dark golden color (about 6 to 8 minutes). Immediately remove from heat, toss with toasted hazelnuts, and set to cool on waxed paper. Break into smaller pieces when cool.
Peel and chop sweet potatoes and place in heavy saucepan. Add water to cover. Bring to boil, then simmer until tender, about 30 minutes. Drain sweet potatoes and add butter, maple syrup, ¼ cup brown sugar, salt, pepper, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and nutmeg.
Puree mixture in blender or food processor until smooth. Add eggs and mix until smooth. Pour sweet potato mixture into lightly greased casserole dish. Sprinkle with brown sugar, then top with praline mixture. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes until firm and slightly puffed up. Serve hot.
Makes 8 servings.