Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Baked Sweet Potatoes with Pecan-Brown Sugar Butter

Sweet potatoes are a great accompaniment to a weeknight meal. Just pop them in the oven and leave them alone, and after a while you've got a flavorful (and healthy) side dish. They're a nice change from regular potatoes and are also just plain pretty. I served mine with a compound butter with pecans and brown sugar.

Compound butters are so easy to make. Basically, it's just a fancy word for flavored butter. You can use fresh herbs, or spices (try mixing my BBQ Dry Rub in with some butter, and then topping a hot-off-the-grill steak with it!), or citrus flavors (great on fish and vegetables). Today I went the sweet route and used brown sugar.

Start with some softened butter. Usually an hour at room temp will soften a stick up sufficiently.

Chop up some pecans. You can leave them in bigger chunks, or you can finely chop them. You could even give them a whirl in a food processor, if you really want them chopped up fine. Since my main plan for this butter is to serve it with the sweet potatoes, I left my pecans in bigger pieces.

A little brown sugar will sweeten the deal.

By the way, I love how packed brown sugar stays in shapes. I would build a sand castle out of brown sugar.

For a little zing, I added just a touch of cinnamon.

A bit of ginger adds a bite too.

Stir your compound butter well until the nuts, sugar, and spices are well mixed.

Scoop your butter mixture onto a piece of parchment or wax paper, or some plastic wrap.

Use the paper to press the butter into a log shape.

When your butter is about the thickness you like, twist the ends of the paper tightly. Store your butter in the fridge until you're ready to use it.

If you plan on freezing your butter, I recommend wrapping it in plastic wrap and also placing it in a Ziploc bag, just to keep out the freezer flavor.

While the flavors in your butter come together, you can start roasting your sweet potatoes.

Pop the sweet potatoes right into a 425F oven. There's no need to prick the skins.

You may want to place a baking dish beneath the potatoes, though. The sugary, starchy liquid inside the potatoes leaks out a bit, and your kitchen will start to smell like burned sugar if it falls to the bottom of the oven.

After about an hour of baking, your sweet potatoes should be tender and caramelized. Make a cut down the long way of the potato, and squeeze the ends gently to open the potato all the way.

Now you can get your butter out!

Slap a big slab of your Pecan-Brown Sugar Butter onto your steaming hot sweet potato and dig in!

Recipe: Baked Sweet Potatoes with Pecan-Brown Sugar Butter

3 sweet potatoes

1 stick salted butter, room temperature
1/4 c. finely chopped pecans
2 tbsp. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ginger

Preheat oven to 425F.

In a small bowl, combine butter, pecans, brown sugar, cinnamon, and ginger. Mix well. Spoon onto wax or parchment paper and shape into a log. Set aside.

Place sweet potatoes in preheated oven (do not prick skin). Let bake for at least an hour.

When potatoes are cooked through, slice the potato the long way and gently press the ends to reveal the inside of the potato. Top with compound butter, and enjoy.


  1. I think we should have a brown sugar sand castle building contest. I love the way it holds it's shape too!

  2. I would so do it! I wonder if they sell sandcastle-shaped measuring cups?