Posted by: A Part of the Solution | November 17, 2010

Sweet Potato Orange Cups

This is a perennial on our holiday table. Some years we argue over whether we should serve this, since it’s a little silly with those marshmallows on top (but they’re optional, really). Mostly we take turns making them since they’re kind of a pain in the parts. Happily, they’re easy to make ahead and they can be reheated whilst the turkey is resting, or people are waiting for half-time or finishing a phone call with absent loved ones.

There’s frequently some discussion about the nuts in the recipe as well. My mother prefers black walnuts for their flavor. My sister prefers English walnuts for their convenience. Many people on whose tables this dish is not traditional like them best with pecans. And again, the marshmallows are optional (if you’re keeping vegan, you can usually find marshmallows in the refrigerated section of better natural foods stores–ask the staff where they stock  ’em).

Sweet Potato Orange Cups

6 large sweet potatoes, lightly oiled and baked at 400° until a fork pierces them easily, about 50-60 minutes

1/2 stick of butter, or 2 oz walnut oil (it makes the dish very special)

8 oranges, and the  juice from one of them

1/2 cup walnuts, black walnuts or even pecans, toasted lightly (350° in a single layer on a cookie sheet for about 8 minutes), rubbed to remove their skins and coarsely chopped

salt and pepper to taste

16 large or 90 mini marshmallows (or 8 large cut in half) to top the oranges–or extra nuts to sprinkle on top if you can’t stand the idea of the marshmallows

Let the baked sweet potatoes cool sufficiently that they can be peeled without burning your fingers. Put the pulp in a large bowl. With a potato masher (or through a ricer) work the pulp to a smooth, lump-free mass. Add the butter or oil and work it well in with the masher, or a good fork, or a sturdy spatula. Now stir in the orange juice, at least a teaspoon of salt and half that of freshly ground black pepper and then the nuts. Set the bowl aside or cover it tightly and store for up to three days.

Remove the pulp from each of the orange halves. Set this aside for some other use (fresh o.j. is really lovely with prosecco, and it can be frozen into ice cube sized portions for later use then transferred to a zipper-locked baggy for long-term storage). You can fill the orange cups a day ahead of when you plan to serve them. There should be enough sweet potato pulp that each of the cups mounds up nicely.

Set the cups in a baking dish that holds them closely. Decorate the tops of the cups with marshmallows or nuts. Bake at 375° until the marshmallows are melty and browned–or the nuts are dark and fragrant.

These are colorful and very popular with young guests (and more enjoyable for adults than most of them would guess until they’d given them a try).



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