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When I first read about sweet potato casserole’s Southern roots, I knew I wanted to see if the legendary Edna Lewis had a version, and I was thrilled to find out she had. Her recipe is a brown sugar and pecan recipe that she co-wrote with Scott Peacock for their bookThe gift of Southern cooking. Their book combines Lewis’s Virginia roots with Peacock’s Alabama tradition.
How to Make Edna Lewis and Scott Peacock’s Sweet Potato Casserole
Roast whole, small sweet potatoes in a 350°F oven on a baking sheet until tender, about an hour and a half to an hour and a half. While they’re roasting, make a streusel by cutting cold butter into flour, brown sugar, and pecans. Set aside in the refrigerator while you finish the sweet potatoes.
When the sweet potatoes are cooked, peel them and beat them in a stand mixer with a piece of butter, honey, granulated sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Finally, add a splash of vanilla extract, three eggs and three cups of milk. Pour the mix into a buttered casserole dish, sprinkle with the streusel, and bake at 375°F for 30 to 45 minutes until bubbly and crispy on top.
My honest review of Edna Lewis and Scott Peacock’s Sweet Potato Casserole
I had no issues with the recipe as written, and it was the only recipe I tested that didn’t require any adjustments. As a recipe developer and tester, I really appreciate it when recipes just work as written, especially when it comes to a high-stakes meal like Thanksgiving.
With more than a cup of combined sweeteners, I was a little nervous that the recipe would end up being too sweet. Like southern sweet tea, I assumed maybe it was something you just had to grow up with. But I am very relieved to say I was wrong. This dish is delicious.
The three different sugars used – honey, brown sugar and granulated sugar – provide a varied flavor profile rather than just pure sweetness. With the added milk and eggs, the sweet potato mixture is surprisingly light, which would be a nice contrast to so many other dishes on the party table. The crunch and generous amount of pecans in the streusel is also really delicious.
If you were to serve this recipe as a dessert any other day of the year, I don’t think anyone would notice, but it also works as a side dish to other savory dishes. The only downside here is that some of the sweet potato flavor is lost in all dairy products. But one of my testers was happy to take home the leftover pan from this casserole, that goes without saying.