This Thanksgiving, I was looking for an alternative to the usual marshmallow-topped canned sweet potato casserole. While kids seem to love it, and it’s unmistakably delicious, it’s a little too much like a bowl of hot liquid candy for my taste. This dish remains true to the original’s intent, where the natural sugars of the sweet potatoes and the tart apples are enough to sweeten the dish. Oh, who am I kidding? The whole thing is tossed with a homemade melted sugar caramel sauce before baking, to help nature along a little bit. Between the apples, potatoes, and crusty, crunchy wheat bread croutons, the varying textures and hot, bursty apples make this a surprising and fun dish to eat.
Caramel Apple Sweet Potato Casserole
Adapted from a recipe by Food Network Kitchens; Serves 8
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup unsweetened apple juice
- 5 tablespoons butter
- Salt and pepper
- 3 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 3 large tart apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 3 slice whole wheat bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
- Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees, and grease a 9×13 inch baking dish. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan or dutch oven, cook the sugar over medium heat without stirring until it begins to melt. Continue to cook, stirring often with a wooden spoon, until the sugar turns a dark golden caramel color. Remove from heat, and add the apple juice, 2 tablespoons butter, , 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Please note that at this stage, all hell will break loose, and the mixture will steam, bubble, and harden. Return to medium low heat and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture dissolves. Remove from heat and let cool for ten minutes.
- In a large bowl, toss the caramel sauce with the potato and apple cubes, and transfer to the prepared baking dish. Cover with foil and bake, stirring once, until apples and potatoes are tender, about 45 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a large skillet, melt the remaining butter over medium heat. Add the bread cubes, and a dash each of salt and pepper. Toss to coat evenly and cook, stirring occasionally, until bread cubes are lightly toasted.
- Uncover the casserole and sprinkle the toasted bread on top. Bake until golden, about 10-15 minutes more. Top with parsley and serve.