Sweet potato casseroles are a classic Thanksgiving side dish. There are many ways that you can make them, but most are sweet, heavy and much closer to a dessert than they are to a side dish. Over the years, I have served sweet potatoes in many ways at my Thanksgiving table, and one of my favorite variations on that casserole is this Sweet Potato Soufflé recipe.
It is just sweet enough to make the natural flavor of the sweet potatoes really stand out, while it's light, airy texture ensures that you will have plenty of room for a second serving of turkey at dinner.
The soufflé starts out with sweet potatoes. The potatoes need to be cooked and cooled before you can use them, and this can be done by roasting them in the oven, a microwave oven or even by steaming them on the stovetop. You can also buy frozen sweet potatoes that are ready to cook, if you want to speed your cooking time up by a few minutes. The sweet potatoes are pureed with brown sugar, honey and spices to give them a little bit of extra sweetness, then egg yolks and milk are added to give the souffle a little richness.
Once the base is made, egg whites are beaten to stiff peaks and folded in. Unlike with dark chocolate soufflés, this meringue is made with only egg whites — no sugar. This means that the meringue will be a bit less glossy when you prepare it, however it will still hold the same stiff peaks.
The souffle could be baked in ramekins for individual servings, however I like to make this in a larger souffle dish for a more dramatic overall presentation. The soufflé turns a dark golden brown in the oven — some sweet potatoes are darker in color than others, so yours may be slightly darker or lighter than the one pictured here, rising up up nice and high in the baking dish.
It is slightly sweet, with just the right touch of honey and spices, and that light mousse-like texture is one that you definitely won't find in any other sweet potato casseroles.
The souffle will start to fall as it cools, so it should be brought to the table immediately after it comes out of the oven. That said, it will still taste delicious and retain some of its lightness even after it has cooled to room temperature.
Sweet Potato Souffle
Yield: 4-6 servings
- 1 1/2 lb sweet potatoes, cooked and peeled
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 2 tbsp honey
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 3 egg yolks
- 3 egg whites, room temperature
- Butter and 2 tbsp sugar, for coating baking dish
Preheat oven to 400 F. Butter a two quart souffle dish, or an oven-proof dish with high, straight sides. Add in two tablespoons of sugar and turn the dish to coat the sides. Shake out any excess sugar and use a paper towel to remove any butter and sugar from the top 1/2 inch of the dish.
In a food processor, blend potatoes, brown sugar, honey, spices, milk and egg yolks until very smooth.
In a large bowl, beat egg whites until they reach soft peaks. Add potato mixture to egg whites and fold together until the mixture is uniform and well-combined. Pour into prepared souffle dish.
Bake for 35-40 minutes at 425 F, until soufflé is mostly set when you jiggle it. Serve immediately.