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November 26, 2007 / Tony

Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Candied Walnuts

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I wanted to put a little twist on the sweet potatoes for Thanksgiving.  I’m not a fan at all of the marshmallow and syrup laden toppings that seem to dominate the Thanksgiving preparations.  They’re just a bit too sweet for me.  I did, however, want a topping for my sweet pototoes for the visual impact they would have.  So I decided on candied walnuts.  They are sweet, of course, but have a bit of heat to them and are really visually appealing.  They turn glossy-like.  Plus, they’re really crisp which makes for a great texture contrast to the sweet potatoes.  I think this combination really worked.  Of course, the walnuts are great on their own. 

Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Candied Walnuts

2 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes

Vegetable oil

5 T butter

3 T brown sugar, or to taste

Kosher salt

Candied Walnuts, recipe below

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Lightly rub the sweet potatoes with the vegetable oil.  Roast the potatoes in the oven for about an hour or until they are tender all the way through.  Remove them from the oven and let them rest until they can be handled safely.  Then, carefully peel off the skin (they’re still hot!!), being careful to keep the skin separate from the flesh.  Place the flesh in a mixing bowl and discard the skins.  Add the rest of the ingredients to the bowl and mix.  Using a hand or stand mixer, beat until the sweet potatoes are smooth.  Taste and adjust any seasonings.  Place the sweet potatoes in your serving dish and sprinkle with the candied walnuts.  Pass any remaining walnuts on the side.  Enjoy!

Candied Walnuts

2 cups whole walnuts

Cayenne pepper, to taste

Kosher salt, to taste

about 2 cups of powdered sugar

Vegetable oil, for deep frying

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil (it should taste like the sea).  Place all of the walnuts in the water and blanch for 1 minute.  Drain into a colander and season with the cayenne pepper and Kosher salt, tossing to coat each walnut.  Do this right in the colander.  At this time you should have oil ready for deep frying (350 degrees).  While the walnuts are still in the colander, sprinkle about a 1/2 cup of powdered sugar over the walnuts.  Shake and toss the walnuts.  Keep adding powdered sugar in stages until there is a nice coating of powdered sugar on the walnuts.  Then add the walnuts, in stages, to the oil.  Fry until they are a deep golden brown.  Place on an oiled baking sheet (there’s no point in putting them on paper towels).  Let cool and serve.

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