The very words “sweet potatoes” conjure up soothing images of holidays, favorite comfort foods and love! The classic 9 by 13 filled with sweet creamy marshmallow-topped goodness comes immediately to mind. But sweet potatoes have so many more possibilities in Southwest cuisine!
Sweet potatoes have a wonderful Southwest side – cumin and chili powders are perfect foils for rich sweet potato flavor. I love to try to infuse Southwest flavors into sweet potato dishes.
Sweet potatoes are incredibly delicious, budget-friendly and packed with nutrients.
Sweet potatoes are wonderful baked into a first course flan or custard. I created this recipe based on a Garlic Custard I once had as a first course at a southwest restaurant in Tucson, Arizona: The Cafe Terra Cotta. I have been in mourning ever since they closed about a year ago!Alas, the Terra Cotta Cafe is no more, but you can still buy Pioneering Southwest Chef Donna Nordin’s Cooksbook: Contemporary Southwest!
It is light and yet creamy at the same time. The hazelnuts are a perfect accompaniment – they add a toasty, crunchy counterpoint to the sweetness and creaminess of the flan.
These flans take only about 10 minutes of prep time, and then can be thrown into the oven and ignored for an hour. Sprinkling the ramekins with the brown sugar before filling them gives the flans a darker top and resembles a traditional custard flan.
SWEET POTATO FLAN WITH TOASTED SPICED HAZELNUTS
1 cup mashed cooked sweet potato flesh
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk
4 tablespoons dark brown sugar, divided
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
4 large egg yolks
A little canola cooking oil spray
Toasted Spiced Hazelnuts (recipe follows)
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Blend in blender until smooth the sweet potatoes, lemon juice, evaporated milk, 1 tablespoon of the brown sugar, cumin, paprika and salt. Whisk eggs and egg yolks together in a mixing bowl. Whisk sweet potato mixture into egg mixture until very smooth.
Spray 6 one-cup ramekins with a little cooking oil. Sprinkle 1/2 tablespoon of brown sugar into the bottom of each ramekin. Pour sweet potato mixture into ramekins, filling the cups about 3/4 of the way to the tops. Place filled ramekins in a 9 by 13 inch pan. Pour hot water around ramekins to reach halfway up sides of ramekins. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes in middle of oven, until each flan is set and slightly puffed but not browned.
Remove from oven and let cool to room temperature. Slide knife around inside edge of ramekins. Invert each flan onto a small serving plate. Garnish by sprinkling paprika over tops (if desired) and with hazelnuts spooned around the bottom edge of flan on the plates.
TOASTED SPICED HAZELNUTS
Bake 8 ounces of whole hazelnuts on a dry baking sheet for 15 minutes at 325 degrees. Remove from oven and place nuts on one half of a kitchen towel. Fold empty towel half over top of nuts and then rub to remove skins. Dice nuts and toss with 1 tablespoon of melted unsalted butter. Toss with 2 teaspoons cumin; 2 teaspoons brown sugar; 1 teaspoon smoked paprika and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
Other fabulous Southwest Sweet Potato recipes by fellow food bloggers:
Southwest Sweet Potato Salad, Fab Frugal Food
Sweet Potato Chayote Casserole, Fat Free Vegan
Turkey and Sweet Potato Enchiladas, Karina’s Kitchen
– posted by Donna