Twice-Baked Sweet Potatoes with a Candied Bacon-Pecan Crumb
Twice-baked potatoes get a major face-lift with this fun and easy twist on an old-school favorite.
Chopped candied bacon and toasted pecans season and flavor creamy, organic sweet potatoes while providing a scrumptious, crunchy texture. This dish makes for a tasty alternative to candied sweet potatoes to complement turkey at Thanksgiving, and it works with other holiday classics, too, like ham, roast beef, lamb, pork, and duck. It may be prepared in advance and baked for the second time right before service. Make this recipe your own by using only bacon or pecans, neither, or adding new flavors like dried cranberries, scallions, or parmesan.
Equipment: cutting board; chef’s knife; paring knife; dry measuring cups; measuring spoons; rimmed sheet pans; parchment paper or aluminum foil; cooling rack; pastry brush; standing mixer with whisk attachment; spatula; spoon; tongs
4 medium to large organic sweet potatoes
2 tablespoons oil (avocado, canola, or olive) 5 slices thick slab bacon
3-4 tablespoons real maple syrup, divided
½ cup pecan halves
2 tablespoons half & half 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1½ teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
2. Trim the pointy edges of the sweet potatoes to create a stable, flat bottom at each end. Reserve the scraps for later use or discard. Slice the trimmed sweet potatoes in half crosswise.
3. Line a rimmed sheet pan with parchment paper and drizzle with the oil. Sprinkle with a generous pinch of kosher salt. Place the sweet potatoes with the center cut-side down on the sheet pan and bake for 30-45 minutes, or until tender when pierced with a knife. Remove from the oven and let stand for 30 minutes, or until cool enough to handle.
4. Meanwhile, cook the bacon. Place the bacon slices on a parchment- or foil-lined sheet pan. Place in the 375°F oven and cook for 15-20 minutes per side, or until crisped. Remove from the oven and lift the bacon slices onto a cooling rack set over the sheet pan to drain. Immediately brush the tops of the bacon slices with two tablespoons maple syrup, then sprinkle generously with freshly ground black pepper. Set aside to cool for 10 minutes.
5. While the candied bacon sets, toast the pecans in the oven on a sheet pan for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool. Raise the heat to 450°F.
6. Scoop the flesh of the sweet potatoes, leaving a ¼-inch border, and place in the bowl of a standing mixer with the whisk attachment. Set the scooped skins aside, sprinkling with kosher salt and placing a scant ½ teaspoon of butter in each. To the sweet potato flesh in the standing mixer, add the half & half, a tablespoon of butter, maple syrup, thyme, salt, and pepper. Whisk until creamy, fluffy, and smooth, about 1 minute. Set aside.
7. Evenly divide the filling among the potato skins, using a regular spoon to fill. Return to the oven to bake for 15 minutes at 450°F, or until the tops are lightly browned.
8. While the sweet potatoes are in the oven for their second bake, chop the candied bacon and at the toasted pecans to a similar size. Top each potato skin with the candied bacon-pecan crumbs. Serve immediately.
Makes 8 servings.