I experienced my first real Thanksgiving after Lulu and I got married. I say real because I had my very first Thanksgiving meal in July 1998. I know it sounds weird... As a child, I used to go to the US for the summer. Every summer, I'd be hosted by an American family through an agency. It was always a very neat experience. It offered me the opportunity to experience the culture and customs of America while sharing my own culture and customs with the host family.
When I met Reneé and Steve in the summer of 1998, they asked me to cook a typical French meal for them. I made a roasted leg of lamb and crunchy oven roasted potatoes. The next day, Reneé surprised me with a full Thanksgiving feast with all the fixings. I have very fond memories of my time at Reneé and Steve's in Williamsburg, Virginia. They even attended our wedding.
One of the dishes that really stood out was the candied yams. I had not eaten yams (or sweet potatoes, to be more accurate) in France, and this was my first experience with them. The yams were sweet and creamy, and the marshmallow topping was a nice touch.
I now make candied yams with my little sisters-in-law each Thanksgiving. It's a fun recipe for them to make because it's easy and also because they love to eat it. I get added pleasure out of passing on traditions that were taught to me in the past by my former host family. Thanks Reneé and Steve!
The marshmallows before melting in the oven.
Servings: 8 servings
10 yams (or sweet potatoes)
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
9 tablespoons light corn syrup
juice of half a lemon
4 tablespoons apple cider
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon extract (or powder)
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated
280 mini marshmallows, (the kids counted them and ate the rest of the bag!)
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Sweetening: In a bowl, combine the butter, sugar, 1/2 cup of corn syrup, salt, cinnamon extract, nutmeg, lemon juice and apple cider. Reserve about 2 tablespoons.
Steaming the yams: Peel the yams and dice them into 1-1/2-inch pieces. It's preferable not to cut them too small as they might fall apart. Fill a pot with cold water until it barely touches the steamer level. It's important to start with cold water so the yams cook evenly. Place the yams in the steamer, bring to a boil and reduce the heat to medium-high. Steam for about 8-10 minutes. The yams should be fork-tender but still firm. Remove from the steamer. Let them cool a little. Once the yams are cool enough to handle and have"dried" (with no excess water), sprinkle with flour. Add the sweet mixture. Toss well.
Baking yams: Place the yams in individual greased ramekins (or in a large baking dish). Bake for about 20-25 minutes. Toss halfway through the baking process. Drizzle with the remaining tablespoon of corn syrup and the 2 tablespoons of sweet mixture. Cook for another 20 minutes.
Assembly time: Top the ramekins with mini-marshmallows. Place in the oven for about 2-3 minutes until they begin to melt and are slightly golden.
You can mash the yams when they're cooked and soft if you like or serve them as is. You can also omit the marshmallows if you like. It's just something the kids love.
Steaming the yams is not essential. You can skip this step if you like but they'll take a lot longer to soften in the oven.
I sweetened the yams halfway through the baking process as the sweetening syrup sinks to the bottom of the ramekin. Adjust the sweetness to your liking.
If you don't have apple cider, you can use apple juice or water.
For a vegan version, substitute vegetable butter (a vegan oil-based margarine) for the butter and use vegan marshmallows. I'll post that recipe soon.
Yams and sweet potatoes are high in fiber so indulge without guilt.
It's preferable to eat the candied yams topped with marshmallows right away; otherwise the marshmallows cool and become hard and gritty. Believe me, there's no such problem in my home as the kids devour every last bite!
I didn't have time to take a picture; the little munchkin already attacked it with her spoon .