Nonstick pan spray
2 egg whites
1 tablespoon sorghum molasses
3 cups pecan halves
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
3 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and large dice
4 cups vegetable stock, or water if unavailable
4 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon white peppercorns, ground
1/3 cup unsalted butter
1 vanilla bean, scraped
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, optional
1 1/2 cup egg whites
2 3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 strips gelatin
For the pecan candy:
Preheat the oven to 225 degrees F. Lightly spray a nonstick pan with oil or pan spray.
Whip together the egg whites, molasses and 1 tablespoon water in a stand mixer until soft peaks or fluffy. Fold the pecans into the bowl.
In a smaller bowl, combine the sugar, cinnamon, salt, coriander, cayenne and cumin. Place the pecans on the prepared baking sheet and dust over the spice and sugar mixture.
Bake in the oven until evenly browned and fragrant, 45 minutes to 1 hour, stirring every 10 to 12 minutes. Be sure to spread out each individual pecan when removed from the oven and let cool. Roughly chop the pecans and store in an airtight container until needed.
For the potato puree: Place the potatoes, stock, salt and pepper into a medium saucepan with a lid. Heat the pot to a boil, return to a simmer, cover and cook until the potatoes are very tender, 20 to 25 minutes.
Add the potatoes, but not the liquid, to a food processor and puree until smooth. Add the butter, vanilla seeds and cinnamon, if using, to the puree. Pulse again until all the ingredients are incorporated and smooth.
Butter a 9-inch casserole dish that has enough volume to hold the finished puree. Place the puree in the buttered casserole. (Or hold until ready to place into the casserole.)
For the marshmallow topping: Combine in a stand mixer the egg whites, 1 cup of the sugar and vanilla extract. Beat the mixture using the whip attachment until soft peaks form.
Simultaneously heat the remaining 1 3/4 cup sugar and 1 cup water in a small saucepot until the mixture reaches 240 degrees F on a sugar thermometer.
Place the gelatin in a mixing bowl and slowly pour in the sugar syrup over the gelatin. Begin mixing at half speed until combined. Then incorporate the egg mixture and whip until slightly cool to the touch.
To finish: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the marshmallow topping over top of the sweet potatoes in the casserole. Top with the pecan candy, place into the oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes. And then rotate the pan and bake until the meringue is browned and the potatoes are hot throughout, another 8 to 10 minutes. Remove and let stand for 5 to 8 minutes and serve.
I usually make the pecan candies and the puree the day before. So, Thanksgiving day, all I have to make is the marshmallow topping, assemble the casserole, and bake the casserole. This casserole is worth the effort!