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Whipped Sweet Potato and Banana with Honey and Cardamom

January 18, 2011

Sweet potatoes have been a bit neglected in my culinary imagination – I just don’t think of them very often. When I do have a reason to bring some home, I love them. Unfortunately, that only happens about once a year.

I tried making a version of this recipe last Thanksgiving, and I wasn’t very happy with it. It mostly just tasted like sweet potato (good, but not worth the extra effort) and the pecan crust was too hard for the light consistency of the mash. It didn’t help that when I reheated it in the midst of the other Thanksgiving madness, I burned the topping.

Since then, I’ve been wanting to give it another go, and I was pretty happy with the result. I added more banana and honey, and incorporated some spices. The cardamom makes this reminiscent of gajar halva, or Indian carrot pudding. I also replaced the pecans with the streusel topping from my grandmother’s apple pie.  This, combined with the extra sweetness, arguably pushes the recipe out of side-dish city and into the land of dessert.

Of course, once I start picking a recipe apart I can’t stop thinking of improvements. If I did it again, I might add more ginger and slightly less honey. If anyone out there gives it a try, let me know what you come up with.

To begin, here’s a picture of tuber skin. Scrub the sweet potato, prick it with a fork and put in in a 400°F oven for 30 minutes to start.

While it bakes, make the honey-butter syrup: melt butter (ghee might be better) and add honey.

Stir in minced ginger, cinnamon, cloves and cardamom. Bring this mixture just barely to a boil and then turn off the heat. Let it steep while you wait on the other ingredients.

Once the sweet potato has baked for 30 minutes, add bananas to the baking sheet and return to the oven for another 25-30 minutes, until both are very soft.

Meanwhile, make the streusel topping: butter, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt, crumbled together with your fingers.

Back in the oven, the banana skin will be completely black – do not be alarmed.

A sane person would wait for these to cool, but I prefer to pick at the steaming-hot banana with my fingers while repeating “ow, ow, ow.” However you get them skinned, put the innards in a bowl and mash them together.

Set aside the cinnamon, cloves, and cardamom and pour in the honey-butter syrup.

Then, beat the living heck out of it with a fork. I used a lot of elbow grease on this one, and as you can see, some of the fibers are still visible. I decided to stop when it was well mixed and kind of fluffy.

Tired yet? Don’t worry: it’s almost done. Spoon the mixture into a small baking pan and sprinkle on the topping.

Bake for 20 minutes until the topping is lightly browned and crunchy. This begs for some whipped cream or cinnamon ice cream. (Although I ate it with some green coconut curry and that was good too.)

Whipped Sweet Potato and Banana

Serves 4
Takes about 1½ hours in total.

For the Whipped Innards:
1 medium sweet potato

2 medium bananas
2 Tablespoons butter
¼ cup honey
1 Tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 cinnamon stick, lightly crushed
4 cloves
3 green cardamom pods
¼ teaspoon salt

For the Streusel Topping:
¼ cup brown sugar
2 Tablespoons butter, softened
8 teaspoons flour
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of salt

1. Preheat oven to 400°F/200°C. Wash sweet potato and prick all over with a fork. Place on a baking sheet in the oven for 30 minutes.
2. Melt 2 T butter over medium heat in a saucepan, add honey, ginger, cinnamon, cloves and cardamom. Bring just barely to boil and then turn off the heat. Let stand while you wait on the other ingredients.
3. After potatoes have baked for 30 minutes, add bananas to the oven. Bake until both the bananas and sweet potato are very soft, 25-30 more minutes.
4. Make streusel topping: in a small bowl, combine brown sugar, butter, flour, cinnamon and salt. Mix with a fork or your fingertips until the mixture is very grainy.
5. Once baked, peel the banana and sweet potato and combine in a large bowl. Mash them together.
6. Remove cardamom, cinnamon and cloves from the honey-butter mixture. Pour it over the mash and whip the whole mixture together with a fork until smooth and fluffy. Taste and add salt if needed.
7. Transfer the mash to a small baking pan or loaf pan and sprinkle with streusel topping. Bake in the 400°F oven for 20 minutes, or until the top is lightly browned. Enjoy with a glass of milk.

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