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Photographer Shares Special Thanksgiving Recipe

Guests clamor for Sara Tegman's whipped sweet potatoes all year round.

For most women, it’s a holiday crisis: Twenty hungry guests are waiting for Thanksgiving dinner, but only three sweet potatoes sit in the cupboard. 

For Sara Tegman’s family, the solution morphed into a decade of holiday tradition. 

Tegman’s mother was the unfortunate cook facing a full table with just a few sweet potatoes. She added as much heavy cream and egg as the dish could handle, giving the dish volume. 

It worked. The dish was a hit, and Tegman’s family searched for a recipe that fit their mother’s last-minute masterpiece.

Tegman, who lives in Chesterfield with her husband and children, settled on a Bon Appetit recipe from 1997 that combined sweet potatoes with lots of butter and sugar. 

“They taste unbelievable,” Tegman said. With the recipe calling for “sugar and more sugar, how could they not taste good?”

And don’t even try asking for a low-calorie, low-sugar option.

“I don’t do do diet sweet potatoes,” she said. “It’s once a year.”

For Tegman, whipped sweet potatoes is the “sensory overload” that heralds the coming of Thanksgiving: the smell of melting sugar, the pumpkin-orange of the sweet potatoes, the delicate crunch of the pecans. She published photos of the finished product on her website weeks ago because she said she "can't wait for Thanksgiving."

“Thanksgiving is the one time of year it doesn’t matter what religion you are, doesn’t matter who you know,” she said. “Everyone comes together for one awesome holiday. It has no boundaries. It’s across all.”

Tegman will be tripling the recipe for Thanksgiving this year, which she’s hosting at her home for about 20 people. 

“It’s a fun thing to make and a fun thing to smell and a fun thing to taste,” she said about her whipped sweet potatoes. “There’s not a lot out there that is like that.”

Here's the recipe:

Whipped Sweet Potatoes

Serves six

Ingredients

For sweet potatoes:

  • 22 ounces red-skinned sweet potatoes (yams; about two large), peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 large egg
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • Pinch of salt

For topping:

  • 1 ½ cups cornflakes, crushed
  • ½ cup (packed) brown sugar
  • ½ cup chopped pecans
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted

Make sweet potatoes:
Preheat oven to 400°F. Cook sweet potatoes in large pot of boiling water until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain; transfer potatoes to large bowl and add butter. Using electric mixer, beat until smooth. Add egg, sugar, spice and salt; beat to blend. Transfer mixture to 8 x 8-inch baking dish. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Bring to room temperature before continuing.) Bake potatoes until beginning to brown around edges and slightly puffed, about 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare topping:
Mix together all ingredients in medium bowl. Spoon topping evenly over potatoes. Bake until golden brown and crisp, about 10 minutes longer.

All photos are courtesy of Sara Tegman Photography. Find more online, on Twitter, on Facebook, on LinkedIn or on Pinetrest.

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