Suzi's Blog

Twice-Baked Sweet Potatoes with Bacon Brittle

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You realize the blog has become unbalanced,” Suzen said.

“No.” I answered. I once had a girlfriend who told me to “admit nothing.” I still ended up divorced.

“It’s booze and chocolate and brownies and milk chocolate, Brian,” she rebutted. “There are these things called vegetables. Science, and you are a scientist, has proven they are necessary for life.”

“Can you make them taste good?” I asked.

“Yes. Yes, I can.”

And by God did she ever. That picture shows, out of focus, roasted Brussels sprouts, which I have grown to love for their nutty taste. I am instinctively a baked potato with butter-and-sour- cream-and-chives kind of guy. I’ve not been fond of sweet potatoes. Until now. These twice-baked sweet potatoes are magnificently delicious. I devoured my slice and did not seek out butter or sour cream or even maple syrup.

I suppose this accomplishment might be due, in small part, to the bacon brittle that adorns the sweet potato. Suzen makes our bacon in the oven with a dusting of brown sugar, because even she has to admit that caramelized sugar is impossible not to enjoy.

Here, the bacon and sugar are combined into a solid mass on the baking tray that is then broken apart. The resulting shards are gleaming wonders. You debate whether to just look or taste. Then you taste and taste and all that is left is a visual memory that is matched with a rich sense of satisfaction on your mouth.

I suppose that I could just eat the bacon brittle and not bother with the sweet potato part. No, on second thought, I appear to have achieved a compromise position with my wife that should not be jeopardized.

She’s hidden the left over bacon brittle. I’m going out to buy more sweet potatoes. Maybe, maybe.

Twice-Baked Sweet Potatoes with Bacon Brittle

Yield: 8 servings

Ingredients:

  • 4 slices of bacon, cut into ½-inch wide pieces
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
  • 6 medium sweet potatoes (6-8 ounces each)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons white miso (fermented soybean paste)
  • 1 ⅔ piece ginger, peeled, finely grated (about 2 teaspoons)
  • 2 pieces scallion 1 inch piece (dark-green parts only), thinly sliced lengthwise

Preparation:

For the Brittle:

Line a rimmed baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper. Cook bacon in a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat until most of the fat is rendered and bacon is starting to crisp.

Transfer bacon to a sieve set over a small bowl; reserve dripping’s.  Return bacon, 1 Tbsp. drippings, sugar, and sesame seeds to same skillet. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until sugar turns the color of milk chocolate, about 5 minutes. Transfer mixture to prepared baking sheet and use a spatula to spread out evenly; let cool. Break brittle into shards.

For the Sweet Potatoes:

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Place sweet potatoes on a foil-lined baking sheet. Roast until tender, 45-55 minutes. Let sit until cool enough to handle.

Slice potatoes in half lengthwise. Working over a large bowl, scoop out flesh from 8 halves, leaving a ½‑inch thick layer inside skins. Place potato halves on same foil-lined baking sheet. Scoop flesh from remaining 4 halves; discard skins. Mash flesh with a whisk; add eggs, butter, white miso, and ginger and stir until mixture is smooth.

Spoon or pipe filling into reserved skins.

Bake potatoes until the tops are lightly puffed and golden brown, 30-35 minutes (potatoes will take longer if they’ve been chilled). Top potatoes with bacon-sesame brittle and scallions.

Source: Bon Appetite, March 2012

Photo Information: Canon T2i, EFS 18-55MM lens shot at F/4.0, 1/60th second, ISO 400

 

 

Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Whiskey Hard Sauce

 

“No, you got it wrong.” Suzen said. “Again.”

“Suzen, the recipe you gave me said sweet potatoes. I wrote the blog based on that.”

“Change it, Sweetie.”

So I am. This wonderful, wonderful dessert is made with pumpkin, not sweet potatoes. Point of full disclosure: one of us at Cooking by the Book did make it with sweet potatoes and it was fine, but it was not the same as pumpkin. So, being obedient to my wife, make this first with pumpkin.

I know that the term bread pudding can generate a cringe. But, trust me, this bread pudding is great. The recipe below suggest raisin bread, but homemade challah is very, very much better.

My suggestion here is to double down on the Hard Sauce, just ladle it on and relish in the cornucopia of rich sweet flavor. You should pour it over the bread pudding, not into your mouth. Suzen got me trying, dribbling on my shirt again, and I was chastised.

On her first bite of this treat, Suzen said, “Oh, my God.” She’s okay with dessert, but  is not a fanatic. This recipe is on her “Do Not Make” list, which mean I’ll have to beg and do work and things before we can both enjoy this. She and I would wolf it down by the bowlful.

You very well might consider this as dessert for a Sunday or holiday meal. Yes, you’ve had bread with your turkey stuffing. But, what if you went with rice for the stuffing and saved the bread for the whiskey? Just consider the possibility. And, you might just want to do a test run, too.

 

Sweet Potato Bread Pudding with Whiskey Hard Sauce

Yield: 10 servings

Ingredients:

For the sauce:

  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sifted powdered sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon best-quality bourbon or rye
  • pinch of salt

For the bread pudding:

  • 8 cups torn or cubed stale raisin bread (about 1 large loaf)
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon mace
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 cups half-and-half
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup pumpkin [the pie stuff]

Preparation:

To make the sauce, in a large bowl use an electric mixer to cream together the butter and powdered sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in the vanilla, liquor and salt. Continue mixing until smooth and creamy. Cover and set aside.

For the bread pudding, heat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 2-quart baking dish or individual ramekins with cooking spray.

In a large bowl toss together the raisin bread with the pecans, then set aside.

In a small bowl, mix together the granulated sugar, cinnamon, mace, nutmeg and salt. Toss the sugar mixture over the bread and pecans, then stir well. Drizzle everything with the melted butter, then toss to evenly distribute.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the half-and-half, cream, eggs and brown sugar. Add the vanilla and sweet potatoes, then mix well. Pour the sweet potato-cream mixture over the bread mixture and stir until well blended. Let stand for about 5 minutes, then spoon into the prepared baking dish or ramekins.

Bake for 45 to 55 minutes (bake ramekins for just 15 to 20 minutes), or until set.

As soon as the bread pudding comes out of the oven, top with hard sauce so that it melts into the crevices. Serve warm.

Source: Elizabeth Karmel