Taste of the Holidays: Sweet Potato Casserole

By Candice Wagener | Photography and Food Styling by Sunny Frantz

Jennifer Schwarzkopf, executive chef at Lucille, grew up in Mississippi with an American father and a Chilean mother. On a mission to master the Southern specialties that enjoyed, her mother pored over cookbooks from cover to cover. “She makes the best fried pork chops, creamed potatoes, and chicken and dumplings,” says Schwarzkopf.

Seeing her mother’s drive in the kitchen helped fuel Schwarzkopf’s own passion for cooking. When she was old enough to help with Thanksgiving preparations, she was put in charge of the sweet potatoes. “The recipe was pretty simple, and very southern in nature: boiled sweet potatoes, whipped with salted butter, some Coca-Cola and lots of brown sugar to taste,” says Schwarzkopf.

But her favorite step was always the final one: making a special design on top with mini marshmallows. “Of course, the oven always melted the marshmallows into an unrecognizable mess, but I would always explain what it did look like,” says Schwarzkopf.

Her family eventually moved out to Las Vegas, where they celebrated Thanksgiving one year with her dad’s cousin and family. His cousin’s wife, Angela, brought the sweet potatoes that year. “I was skeptical and a bit perturbed that my lifelong job was given away! However, I not only fell in love with Angela, but also her phenomenal sweet potatoes.”

While she’s made a few tweaks of her own over the years, Angela’s recipe is “out of this world,” says Schwarzkopf. “My allegiance changed instantly! Her dish (shown at left), unlike the one of my childhood, has various textures, a depth in flavor other than just sweet and is truly everything you could want in a Thanksgiving side.”

Sweet Potato Casserole

Yield: Feeds 5-6 people

Casserole

  • 3 cups mashed sweet potatoes
  • 1⁄8 cup freshly-squeezed orange juice
  • 1  cup sugar
  • 2  eggs
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 tsp. Kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

Topping

  • 1 cup chopped pecans (optional)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

Instructions

Combine all ingredients with a mixer and put into a casserole dish. Mix the topping ingredients — they will be crumbly — and sprinkle on top. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 45 minutes.

Sometimes the topping doesn’t come out so “crumbly,” but spooning droplets of it on top does turn out well.


Read more from our “Taste of the Holidays” 2021 feature here.

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