Darling Sweet Potato Bites

or dessert with dinner anytime of the year..

Ok, so I'm a bit late on this entry, I know.  I feel appropriately ashamed and guilty.  But I have been trying to post a healthy recipe for baked "fried" chicken, for the past week, and could not seem to get the words flowing.  Then came my experiments in sweet potatoes and that's when everything changed.

Starting this process definitely took some motivation, I dislike sweet potatoes (more on principle then flavor, but still).  And by the end I had tweaked and mashed and seasoned and mixed until I found a combination that I really liked, albiet not really near any of the recipes I had drawn my inspiration from.  All those recipes tried to hold on to that seemingly essential savory side of the starch, but I am happy to say that I broke free of that grasp.  These aren't pretending to be healthy, but in all honesty they really aren't that bad for you either, they are just boldly saying
"I'm here, I'm dessert, and I am on your dinner plate."  So why not give them a chance to prove themselves?  After all they do make a good point, they are traditionally a side dish.

Now I know what you're thinking - those smelly things are just for the holidays, that's what Aunt what's-her-name makes every year, why would I ever want to make that?  Well I can tell you why, one word: marshmellows.  When else do you get to eat marshmellows for dinner?  Admittedly this falls a little more on the dessert end of the meal spectrum, but toss in a veggie or two and you can allow it on the plate with your main dish.  Give it a shot and maybe you'll discover a new found love for this forgotten starch just as I did.

Here's what you'll need:
4 medium sized sweet potatoes
1/2 cup mini marshmellows
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp almond extract
1/3 tsp cinnamon
Nutmeg - just a dash
2 tbsp melted butter
2 egg whites
1/4 cup water
1/3 cup Panko crumbs

Prep work - I'm usually a big fan of instant gratification, but in this case it truly helps to get started a bit in advance.  The day before, while you're making dinner or popcorn or whatnot, toss the sweet potatoes in the oven on 350 F and bake until they are easily pierced with a fork.  Take them out and once they cool a bit let them rest in the refridgerator overnight, they need a little time to cool off (and let's be honest, don't we all sometimes?).

Now we're cooking - preheat oven to 400 F

1. Peel and mash the cold sweet potatoes, this is a great time to focus on any of that stress weighing down on you - just pound all that tension into the potatoes (they're tough, they can take it).  To make them a bit more smooth, first combine the melted butter and almond extract then mash the liquid into the potato mixture. 

2. Add 1/4 cup of brown sugar along with the cinnamon and nutmeg to the potatoes and stir until incorporated throughout, pockets of spice never do anyone any good.  Once it's looking pretty consistent stir in the mini marshmellows, adjust the amount as needed to ensure that there will be at least 1-2 per potato ball, and don't forget a few to munch on (you have to make sure they're still good don't you?).

3. Use a fork to mix the egg whites and water in a deep dish.  Set up a "breading station" with the bowl of potatoes, the bowl of egg whites/water, a container with the remaining brown sugar combined with the Panko bread crumbs, and a greased cookie sheet.

4. Roll balls of the potatoes about 2 inches in diameter, taking care to make sure that there are marshmellows enclosed in each, and procede to the "breading station."  A couple at a time take them down te line: a quick bath in the egg mixture, a playful roll in the dry mix until covered, then lined up on the cookie sheet.  Once all have been through the routine, spray the tops with spray butter or oil spray so they will crisp up nicely.  Escort them into the oven and allow them to bake for 15-20 minutes.

5.  Now the hard part - once they are becoming golden on top take them out of the oven, set them aside, and just walk away.  Don't look back, it will only make it harder.  Leave them there, on their own, for about 20 minutes.  They need time to settle down.

When, and only when, they are no longer hot to the touch can you bring them to the plate.  Feel free to serve with a little dusted brown sugar or drizzled melted butter on top, but personally I like just picking them up as is and enjoying.

So there you have it - the sweet potato recipe that finally won me over.  Who knows?  Maybe there's a whole world of sweet potato-y goodness out there just waiting for me to dive in..  I'm guessing not, but at least this was able to get the noble starch's "foot in the door" to my kitchen, and we all have to start somewhere don't we?  Now back to paperwork, meetings, workouts, family, and more.  I hope you enjoyed today's adventure and that you find these delightful little bites as delicious as I did!

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