Introduction: Layered Potato Dessert

I grew up in Hawaii, and there are these great potatoes that are common to find in markets called Okinawan Sweet Potatoes.  They are tan on the outside and purple on the inside.  When prepared they have a custardy texture, and are quite sweet.  I recently re-discovered these when making baby food.  I found that they taste amazing with bananas and was determined to make an adult dessert with this idea.

This dessert has a lot of possibilities.  I realized this morning that it would be easy to do a version of this with no refined sugar, or a vegan version.  The one I did today has a little sugar added and a little milk but those could easily be excluded depending on the needs of the chef.

The dessert I made today has four layers to it.

Almond Gelatin Dessert 
  • pre mixed packet of "Almond Flavor Gelatin Dessert" which you can find at Asian Grocers
  • 2 cups milk (you can use any type of milk you like it's pretty flexible, and you could even use water)

Pureed Sweet Potato
  • Two Okinawan Sweet Potatos (tan exterior, purple interior) or other type of sweet potato (I used local purple sweet potatoes) baked or steamed
  • Water or Milk to blend
  • 2-3 or more bananas

Coconut Whipped Cream
  • Can of Coconut Milk
  • 1tsp powdered sugar (optional)

Ok, so you are thinking about doing this recipe go ahead and get a can of coconut milk and stick it in your fridge now.  It takes a day to set up, and as long as you've got the space might as well put one in then it will be ready once you get the rest of the ingredients and motivation to make the recipe.

Step 1: Prep the and Puree Potatoes

One of the nice things about this dessert is you can do it all ahead of time at whatever speed you want.

Here's the quick version:
Put the coconut milk in the fridge!
Peel and steam/boil potatoes or bake them
Then puree in the blender add potato water, milk and sugar as necessary for taste and blending a smooth pudding like texture

Here is the long one:

As I mentioned before the first step is put the Coconut milk in the fridge.  I didn't realize it needed a day to set up and a few days ago was like "oh I'll make dessert today".  No dice.  Don't be like me.  Stick it in now.  It needs time to cool and separate milk and coconut water.

Next is to prep your potatoes.  If you get Okinawan sweet potatoes, they are fairly soft on the inside (about the consistency of a normal orange sweet potato) so you can peel them and cut them up and steam or boil them in a little water.  I like this preparation for the potatoes because it makes them nice and soft and you have the extra potato flavored water to add to your puree.

So like I said peel the skin.  Take out any icky bits, like the potato eyes or anything else you don't want in your puree and then chop and steam or boil.  It takes about half an hour to get them soft, depending on how big your pieces are.  If they are smaller check them at 20 minutes, and once they are soft take them off the heat to cool.

Now as I mentioned I didn't have Okinawan sweet potatoes for this batch, so I went with local purple sweet potatoes.  Now these things are far more dense and quite annoying (and even scary) to chop into cubes when raw.  So I washed them then baked them at 375 for about 40 minutes.  Actually I think I baked them a little longer then just turned off the oven and let them cool inside, as they were a little dry but whatever.  Bake them.  After that... I threw mine in the fridge for two days because I had to make baby food.  Potatoes are forgiving.

Eventually blend them.  If I had steamed them I would have added the potatoes and the some of the potato water to the blender once they had cooled until I got a nice smooth but thick consistency.  As I mentioned my baked pototoes were kinda dry so I added some milk and then some yogurt.  I also added a bit of sugar.  If I had been making this for company I would have added more sugar.  If you are using Okinawan Sweet Potatoes you probably won't need it.  In mine it barely made a difference so I either needed to add more or just skip the sugar altogether.

BTW I'm sure most of us have had the experience of spilling something because of taking a picture at the same time right?

Step 2: Make Gelatin Dessert

I like these pre mixed packets of Almond Dessert so that's what I used.  You could easily go with something sugar free, or a different flavor or even make your own with a bit of agar (assuming your vegan) or gelatin or skip it all together.  (It wouldn't really be missing much.)

These take two hours to set so while your potatoes are cooling get your gelatin going.  I just followed the instructions on the back of my box. 
Mix contents with 4 cups water in a saucepan, bring to a boil stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat
Stir in 2 cups whole milk (I used 1%, it's flexible and really doesn't matter)
Pour mixture into glasses or shallow pan and let cool (I used a casserole pan, I like to cut shapes out of it)
Refrigerate until set, about 2 hours.


Step 3: Coconut Whip

Now for the coconut topping.

I have an iSi whipped cream tool (toy) so I used that to make my whipped cream.

If you don't have one of these spiffy toys there is a fantastic instructable on how to make the coconut whipped cream here!

I took the thick cream from the top of the can in the fridge and scraped it into my whipped cream maker.  I left the majority of the water in the can, and as I had kinda jostled the can there was a good amount of cream in the can, and I poured off the water to get the rest.  I added about 1/2 teaspoon (a pinch) of confectioners sugar to the cream then charged my canister.  I thought the coconut cream would need the confectioners sugar to stabilize but with the whipper I don't think it did.  The cream came out nice and thick and was very stable (holding up better than normal whipped cream, but then my coconut cream was really thick).  I think as long as you don't add a ton of the coconut water to it the whipped cream should be fairly forgiving.

Step 4: Put It All Together

When I originally had this idea, I thought it would be cool to serve it like a parfait.  But that was before I added the coconut jell to the mix. So I tried that and a little more formal type of display for the desserts.

For the parfait I made small rectangles out of the gelatin and put those in the bottom then a layer of the potato then some sliced banana and the coconut creme to top.  This would work great to feed a larger group in a big dish.  The other method I used was I took a cookie cutter and cut a slice of the gelatin and layered the potato and creme on top and it looked best when surrounded by the banana rather than layering it in.  Plus the gelatin slides on the plate very easily and the bananas slow that down a bit.

In either case, the potato and the coconut whipped creme have potential to be quite rich, so try them first then decide what ratio you would like to use.  Mine was a bit heavy on both, Next time I would use a smaller layer of the potato, and creme.  I also might add in a little more of the coconut water to the whipper as the creme was quite heavy for this try.

I hope that you enjoyed the recipe and have lots of fun doing your own cooking experiments with it!

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