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rustic sweet potato “flan”

by Jackie Newgent  |  November 23, 2011  |  0 Comments

Makes 10 servings

The sweet potato has a regular presence on my holiday table. Yours? Perhaps it shows up in a rich casserole-like preparation, like the original recipe that I was provided by a childhood friend of mine. (Thanks, Linda!) No worries about that recipe richness now. I’ve cut the calories here by 1/3! This delectable new side dish is reminiscent of a luscious baked custard—hence the name “flan.” It now has sweet and savory intrigue rather than superfluous sweetness. And you’ll find more layers of flavors. (By the way, no need to fret about the number of ingredients; this is still a simple fix.) So serve up this palate-pleasing delight more often than just for a celebration. Enjoy it fresh baked from the oven. It’s delicious served at room temperature, too. Happy holidays–and happy every day!

Calories Saved: 170

5 medium (7- to 8-ounce) sweet potatoes (jewel yams), unpeeled, well scrubbed
6 fluid ounces plain almond milk or unsweetened coconut milk beverage
1/3 cup plain fat-free Greek yogurt
1/2 cup coconut palm or turbinado sugar
1/4 cup applesauce or apple peach sauce
2 large organic eggs, beaten
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice
1 1/4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoons unsalted organic butter, softened

3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons turbinado or coconut palm sugar
3/4 cup mixture chopped walnuts and pecans
1/3 cup whole-wheat or other whole grain flour
3 tablespoons unsalted organic butter, melted
2 teaspoons unsulphured molasses
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon pure almond extract

  1. Add the sweet potatoes to a large saucepan. Fill with cold (filtered) tap water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until the sweet potatoes are fully softened, about 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  3. When just cool enough to handle, finely chop* the sweet potatoes and add to a large bowl along with the almond milk and yogurt. Blend on medium speed until well combined, about 1 minute. Add the sugar, applesauce, eggs, salt, cinnamon, vanilla, and butter and blend on high speed until very smooth, about 1 minute. Spread evenly into a 9- by 13-inch baking pan.
  4. Stir together the Topping ingredients until well combined. Sprinkle evenly over the sweet potato mixture.
  5. Bake until fully set and topping is well caramelized, about 40 minutes. Let cool for about 10 minutes before serving.

*It’s important to chop well so that large pieces of the peel no longer remain.

Per serving: 330 calories, 14g total fat, 5g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 55mg cholesterol, 310mg sodium, 50g total carbohydrate, 4g dietary fiber, 34g sugars, 5g protein

The “Before” Recipe

baked sweet potato casserole
submitted by Linda Herman (Ohio)

Makes 10 servings

1 (40-ounce) can cut sweet potatoes (yams in light syrup), drained
6 fluid ounces evaporated milk
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup salted butter, softened

1 cup brown sugar
1 cup finely chopped walnuts
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup salted butter, melted

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Mash the sweet potatoes in a medium mixing bowl. Whip with an electric mixer. Add the evaporated milk, sugar, eggs, salt, vanilla, and softened butter and blend until smooth. Pour evenly into a 9- by 13-inch baking pan.
  3. Stir together the Topping ingredients until well combined and crumbly. Sprinkle evenly over the sweet potato mixture in the baking pan.
  4. Bake until fully set, about 35 minutes. Let cool for at least 5 minutes before serving.

Per serving: 500 calories, 20g total fat, 8g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 65mg cholesterol, 300mg sodium, 78g total carbohydrate, 4g dietary fiber, 51g sugars, 6g protein

Tasteover Tips

  1. Use fresh sweet potatoes instead of those canned in syrup to let the “real” flavors shine through—and get extra nutrients by leaving the peel on the potatoes.
  2. Create a more delicious and lower calorie evaporated milk alternative by combining almond milk and plain fat-free Greek yogurt.
  3. Reduce the total amount of sugar to let the natural sweetness of the sweet potatoes be more of the highlight—and add apple sauce to boost natural sweetness. Then select a sugar that’s less processed, like coconut palm or turbinado sugar.
  4. Slightly reduce the total amount of butter so the dish will still seem rich, but not overly rich.
  5. Boost flavors with a spice that complements the other recipe flavors, like cinnamon or the more intriguing pumpkin pie spice. Plus punch up the amount of pure vanilla extract.
  6. Get the essence of 1 cup of nuts with a synergistic mixture of two types. And for more nuttiness, splash in a few drops of pure almond extract.


Calories Saved: 170

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