sweet potato casserole with maple pecans and italian meringue
Not that any of you were planning on ordering in for Thanksgiving, seeing that you are reading a food blog and all, but I wanted to share a number with you. That number is 480. FOUR HUNDERD EIGHTY! That’s how many calories are in a single small side order of Boston Market’s Sweet Potato Casserole. I’m not joking! Look right here, plain as day, on their website. That’s crazy. So is the fact that that same side order has 14 grams of fat!
I think I need to have a whiff of smelling salts.
Since 480 calories is in the ballpark of what one should be eating for their entire meal, it seems to me this classic Thanksgiving side-dish is in serious need of a make-over. Ok, now, picture this part spoken in my best Barney Stinson, “Challenge accepted! This is going to be legen…wait for it… dary!”
Here’s the outcome of all my tinkering: Atop the orange-infused sweet potato mash is a gooey layer of maple pecans. Sounds indulgent already right? And instead of marshmallow topping, this casserole is topped with broiled home-made Italian meringue, which is about one third of the calories of marshmallows. Yes, there is butter in here, and yes I did use sugar. But they help make it taste so darned good. And I only used 4 tablespoons of butter for 16 servings. And only 1/3 cup sugar (that’s less than a teaspoon per person.) Besides, I think you’ll agree that 166 calories per serving and only two grams of saturated fat is a huge (some might even say legendary) improvement.
Active Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Makes: 16 servings
Serving Size: 2/3 cup
Calories per serving: 166
Fat per serving: 6 g
- 4 pounds peeled sweet potatoes, cut into 1 ½ inch chunks
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
- 1 ½ teaspoon salt, plus a pinch, divided
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- Pinch chipotle powder
- 1 cup orange juice, preferably freshly squeezed
- 2 large egg whites, room temperature, see *tip
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 3 tablespoons water
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- ½ cup chopped pecans
- Place sweet potatoes in a large saucepan and cover generously with cold water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer and cook until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain and return to the pot. Add 3 tablespoons butter, 1 ¼ teaspoon salt, cinnamon and chipotle powder. Mash with a potato masher until no large lumps remain. Add orange juice and mash until smooth. Cover and keep warm.
- Position oven rack in upper third of the oven. Heat broiler. Coat a broiler-safe 2 ½ quart casserole dish with cooking spray.
- Beat egg whites and ¼ teaspoon salt in a stand mixer until soft peaks form. Mix sugar and water in a small saucepan. Place over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer, swirling pan gently to dissolve sugar. Do not slosh sugar solution on the sides of the pan. Boil undisturbed, until a candy thermometer just reaches 238 degrees F. Immediately drizzle sugar syrup into the egg white mixture while the mixer is beating continually. Continue beating until the bottom of the bowl is only slightly warm, about 2 minutes longer. Scoop the meringue into a large re-sealable bag and set aside.
- Mix maple syrup, the remaining 1 tablespoon butter and the remaining pinch of salt in a small sauce pan. Heat over medium heat until the mixture boils. Add pecans and cook, stirring constantly until the nuts are coated, 1 to 2 minutes.
- Spread the sweet potato mixture in the prepared casserole dish. Top with the pecans. Cut the corner of the re-sealable bag off and pipe the meringue decoratively over the sweet potato mixture. Broil, rotating as necessary, until the top is browned, 30 seconds to 2 minutes.
Sat fat: 2 g. Fiber: 3 g. Protein: 3 g. Sodium: 241 g. *tip: To warm egg whites to room temperature quickly and safely, place whole un-cracked eggs in a small bowl. Cover with very warm water and let sit several minutes. Drain and separate eggs as usual.