Sweet Potato Pavé, stepping your Thanksgiving game up

Recently I was informed that I was being asked to contribute and bring a sweet potato dish to Thanksgiving this year.  So obviously that got my brain humming and dreaming up what sort of concoction I could put together.  That being said I realized that what people expected and what I could pull off were completely different.  People want their candied yams, those potatoes that are barely potato anymore and are more sugar/marshmallow than anything else.  So I decided I needed to think of something in line with that idea but just class it up a bit and show them a new version that actually celebrated the potato.


Everyone that saw my potato pavé seemed to love it so I figured I would do a holiday-version of the same dish but make it a sweet version.  So I set out on a mission to make a sweet potato pavé, and I have to say it worked out marvelously.


This takes a bit of time, and needs to sit overnight once, but it can be prepared a week ahead of time and just reheated in the oven at dinner time.


Ingredients (6 people)

  • 5 Sweet Potatos (I used red yams)
  • 1 Can Condensed Milk
  • Heavy Cream
  • 3 Tablespoons Sugar
  • Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • 3 Tablespoons Butter

If you really need to have marshmallows with your sweet potatoes you can add them at the end on top and it will work just fine.



The process is basically the same as with the white potato pavé. With a couple key differences.


First up we take a note from Harold McGee in On Food and Cooking

Moist sweet potato varieties sweeten during cooking thanks to the action of an enzyme that attacks starch and breaks it down. The enzyme starts to make maltose when the tightly packed starch granules absorb moisture and expand, beginning at around 135°F, and it stops when the rising heat denatures it, at around 170°F.

Essentially what we are trying to do is let the potato sit at around 155 degrees for an hour or two to let it naturally sweeten.  The easiest way to do this is to use a sous vide precision cooker.  If you don’t have access to one then just bake them in the oven on really low heat (200 degrees or lower) for 2-3 hours.  You need these potatoes “cooked” but still firm enough to handle/slice without them turning into mash.  I prefer to peel them first myself.




After an hour or two you can take a nibble and immediately see what Harold is talking about, the starchiness is gone and its been replaced by a nice sweetness.


Next up we bust out a bowl, add a cup or two of cream to the bowl, add the sugar to the cream, give it a stir, then set up a mandolin on top of the bowl.  You don’t have to use a mandolin…it just makes it a million times easier, less time consuming, and more precise.  Let the ribbons fall into the cream as you cut them, you want them as thin as possible while still being able to be handled and not fall apart.



You should be able to see through the potato slices.


After a while you should have a bowl filled with sweet cream and potato slices.



Get a pan that is minimum 1 inch tall, the taller the better, lay out some parchment paper, and start laying out your slices.  You may want to give each slice kind of a “wipe” with your finger to get excess cream off of it.  Doesn’t need to be dry or anything but it also doesn’t need to be completely sopping wet.  You’re going to want to kind of alternate here, every 2-3 layers you’re either going to drizzle some condensed milk or some liquid butter, and brush the potatoes down.


Sprinkle some pumpkin pie spice every couple layers as well.


Once you’ve built it up to your desired height (1 inch-ish or more) wrap it in foil, toss it in the oven at 350 degrees for around 90-120 minutes.  You’ll want to check on it after 90 and see if its ready by touching it with the tip of a knife, it should pass through with no resistance.




Next up we want to compress it over night, so just like with the white potato pavé  we a cut a piece of cardboard that will fit the pan, wrap it in foil, put it on top, then put whatever you have lying around to apply weight to it.





Let that sit overnight, the next day it should look kinda like a mess but when you pull it out of the pan, using the parchment paper as handles, it should come out easy.  Then just use a knife to trim up the sides to make it a rectangle.



Then proceed to portion it out into small rectangles.



At this point you can be done until the day of .  These will keep in the fridge for a good 3-5 days like this so if you want, prepare them on Sunday and serve on Thursday.  When you’re ready to serve just toss them in the oven for a good 15 minutes and they are good to go.


The finishing touches are your call, personally I just like a drizzle of condensed milk on top to finish them off, its sweet but not overwhelmingly sweet.  If you’re like my wife though, you can top them with marshmallows and let them melt on top in the oven if you need your fix.




If you wanted a way to impress the shit out of everyone this year, this is it.