Cinnamon Marsala Glazed Yams

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Disclaimer: I received compensation and a product sample for this post. The opinions and text are all mine. This post contains affiliate links.

Candied yams used to be my favorite thing to eat for holiday dinners. Cloyingly sweet, syrupy, overcooked canned yams and let's make them even more awful with marshmallows on top. Yes, more please. I don't know how on earth such an abomination became a staple side dish on a dinner plate when it's literally a dessert. At any rate, my taste buds changed as I got older and I started incorporating savory sweet potato dishes into my meals. I've drizzled honey or maple syrup over roasted sweet potatoes, but it felt like a half-ass attempt at my childhood favorite. Roasting fresh sweet potatoes never really seemed to yield the meltingly soft texture I remembered, but the idea of eating  mushy brown sweet potatoes out of the can is offensive at best. Eventually I stopped liking the idea of candied yams altogether and never really revisited it for my own holiday menus. Well, last weekend I roasted Seckel pears in Marsala wine, brown sugar, cinnamon and maple syrup. After reducing the sauce down it turned into this amazing, sweet-but-not-instant-diabetes-sweet glaze. And I had about a cup left of wine and some beautiful Garnet Yams in the pantry. So I had to try my hand at candied yams again.

Ridiculous. These were the candied yams I had in my head all this time, all grown up. Garnet Yams have the most beautiful orange flesh and rich flavor (this is the reason why I highly recommend them for pies.) After baking, the sweet potatoes were soft and just barely holding together when picked up with a fork. The Marsala wine mellows out and adds an almost nutty, toasty flavor to the sauce. Dripping with a cinnamony, sticky glaze and a beautiful orange flesh, these were heavenly and I would gladly serve them at any holiday dinner.

I used two great products from Hatchery in my dish, both part of a holiday bundle they sent me to play with. One is Bobo's Mountain Sugar Dark Robust, which I first used in my apple pie recipe last year. It's an awesome maple syrup and always lends the perfect flavors to my dishes. The other product is Greenpoint Trading Co's Bakers Spice. I usually make my own apple pie and pumpkin spice blends, but it's been nice having a decent one to use that is somewhat of a mix between the two. It's mostly cinnamon, with plenty of ginger, nutmeg, allspice and cloves. I've been using Bobo's Mountain Sugar and Bakers Spice in my holiday recipes as of late, with dope results. Ingredients in this recipe are flexible but as with any holiday dish, get the good stuff. Use fresh organic sweet potatoes if you can't find Garnet Yams, use a Marsala wine of decent quality (dry or sweet, but not anything labeled as "cooking" wine), real maple syrup, and a cinnamon based spice blend. All that I ask is you don't add any marshmallows!

Cinnamon Marsala Glazed Yams

2 pounds Garnet Yams or organic sweet potatoes
2 tbsp grape seed or canola oil
1 cup good quality, dry Marsala wine (sweet should work too)
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup good maple syrup ("Grade B" or dark/robust)
2 tsp Bakers Spice
2 tbsp unsalted butter
Kosher salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste
Sel gris or other finishing sea salt (optional)

Active Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Yield: Serves 6 to 8
Special Equipment: Medium saucepan, heavy sheet pan, silicone pan liner is helpful

Preheat oven to 350° F. Peel and slice the sweet potatoes into 1/2" thick rounds. Toss with the oil and arrange on a baking sheet lined with silicone or parchment. Season with salt and pepper. 

Bake for 20 minutes, flip the sweet potatoes over and bake for another 20 minutes or until fork tender.

Meanwhile, prepare the glaze. In your saucepan, add the wine, brown sugar, maple syrup and cinnamon. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat, simmering on low until you no longer smell the alcohol and the mixture turns thick and syrupy. That should take about 10 minutes depending on the size of your pan. Once it's reduced, turn off the heat and stir in the butter.

If you're using a silicone pan liner you can pile up the sweet potatoes and pour the glaze over right on the baking sheet. Otherwise, lightly oil a casserole dish and transfer the cooked potatoes to the dish, then pour the glaze over the top. Return the sweet potatoes to the oven and bake for another 5 to 10 minutes to set the glaze, being careful not to let it burn. Serve immediately, if desired sprinkled with a little bit of sea salt.

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