Posts Tagged ‘vanilla’

This incredible recipe is apparently originally from Food & Wine Magazine, though I am sure that I first  found it somewhere else – another take-off, no doubt, but I can see why. I made this for Thanksgiving two years ago and promptly made it again for Christmas. Last year, I made something different (still sweet potatoes, but with ginger and coconut) – and I missed the heck out of this recipe and wished I’d made it instead. This recipe produces a super-smooth, lusciously creamy, sweetly fragrant sweet potato puree that has a most tantalizing vanilla aroma. I admit I am a real vanillaholic, but I just can’t find any other sweet potato dish that comes anywhere close to this one.

It’s amusing to me, now that I have this online recipe journal, how often I look up a recipe here when I can’t remember where else I’ve got it written down. So, in the spirit of archiving my favorite cooking experiences digitally, and of adding my voice to the many out there who have already enthusiastically endorsed this recipe – here it is, with credit to the various versions floating in cyberspace.

I should note that the two versions I’ve seen use either heavy cream (Food and Wine) or half and half. I’ve made it with half-and-half both times so that is what I am posting here, but I have no doubt that the original version is even more decadent and wonderful, and frankly I can’t wait to try it that way too.

4 lbs sweet potatoes

1 cup half-and-half or whipping cream

4 Tbsp butter

1/2 vanilla bean

salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400°. Poke the sweet potatoes several times with a fork and bake for 35-45 minutes, until tender. Let cool, then peel and transfer to a food processor. Puree until fairly smooth. (I had to stop several times and dig around in the Cuisinart to dislodge stubborn chunks of sweet potato; I finally just went on to the next step and added the cream, which loosened things up nicely). 

While the sweet potatoes are roasting, heat the cream or half-and-half in a small saucepan with the butter. Split the vanilla bean down the middle and scrape the seeds into the cream mixture; drop the bean pod in as well. Stir well and heat just until it simmers. Remove from heat and let it steep until the potatoes are done. 

Remove the vanilla bean from the cream mixture. With the food processor on, carefully pour the vanilla cream into the sweet potatoes and process until smooth. Season the sweet potato puree with salt and pepper, transfer to a bowl and serve.

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Posting a recipe just for whipped cream seems a bit silly, but since it’s winter and there’s not much else to do, we’ve been making a lot of desserts around here, and that’s made me think about cream. The truth is that it’s a very long way from Cool Whip or even whipped cream from a can to the sinfully delicious heavy smoothness of real whipped cream… and if you add just a couple of nifty little extras, you can take the experience from sinful to otherworldly. Ok, darned close.

Want to add that little extra something to your dessert experience? Here’s how I make mine, and I learned this from an extremely gifted chef and mom who never cut any corners, even when she was tired, in the kitchen; eating her food was always a multi-sensory, highly sensual experience. I’ve still never had a home-baked New York style cheesecake anything like hers.

Susanna’s Whipped Cream

ready for the totally un-scientific quantities and instructions? here goes.

pour your cream into a large bowl. 1 pint, or less, doesn’t matter.

start whipping it. when it gets a little thicker, add just enough POWDERED sugar (emphasis on powdered – it won’t give your cream that grainy feel!) to make it sweet but not quite as sweet as the dessert you’ll be topping it with.

add a dollop of real (emphasis on real) vanilla extract. Just a little splash. If you’re making the full pint of cream, it can be a slightly more generous splash.

finish whipping the cream to your ideal consistency – nice, soft peaks…

just before serving, add in a few grinds of fresh (emphasis on fresh) nutmeg, whip it in briefly, then dish cream out into a large bowl for passing – or for the dessert bar.

This is really, truly… the very best.

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