Introduction: Purple Sweet Potato Parfait

About: I helped start Instructables, previously worked in biotech and academic research labs, and have a degree in biology from MIT. Currently head of Product helping young startups at Alchemist Accelerator, previous…

This odd little combination of a fool, a trifle, and a parfait was an experiment for Thanksgiving 2013. I used purple sweet potatoes instead of the standard orange variety, lots of whipped cream, and layers of ground, toasted coconut and macadamias, with a meringue on top. It turned out well! The kids were especially enthusiastic fans.

For future iterations I'll probably skip the big trifle bowl and make single servings in a wine glass.

Yes, you can definitely mod this recipe to use regular orange sweet potatoes. I'd probably swap the nut mixture to pecans as well.

Step 1: Tools and Ingredients

Mixer (stand or hand-held)
Trifle bowl or glass single-serving units (wine glasses, 1/2 pint jam jars, etc)
Baking sheet
Aluminum Foil

Purple (Okinawan) sweet potatoes (3 cups cooked)
3 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon + 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup + 3 Tablespoons + 1/3 cup brown sugar
6 Tablespoons white sugar
1 cup coconut cream
1 cup macadamia nuts
1 cup grated coconut (unsweetened)
1/4 teaspoon + 1/4 teaspoon + 1/8 teaspoon + pinch allspice
1/8 teaspoon + 1/2 teaspoon + 1/8 teaspoon salt, more to taste

Step 2: Whip Cream

Combine in mixer bowl:
  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
Whip until cream forms stiff peaks. Taste test: it should have good vanilla/allspice flavor, but not be too terribly sweet.

Step 3: Whip Sweet Potato

Bake sweet potatoes at 350F for 1-2 hours, or until nice and squishy. Allow to cool, then scoop out and mash the flesh.

Combine 3 cups roasted purple sweet potato with 1 cup coconut cream, 3 Tablespoons brown sugar, 1/8 teaspoon allspice, and 1/2 teaspoon salt, then mix thoroughly. If you've got a KitchenAid mixer, use the paddle attachment.

Next, add 2 cups whipped cream, and whisk everything together until well-mixed and fluffy. Swap to the whisk attachment if you're using a KitchenAid. Taste and adjust seasoning - add more salt or sugar until you want to just eat the sweet potato mix with a spoon.

Step 4: Prep Nuts

Spread 1 cup macadamia nuts and 1 cup loosely-packed grated coconut each on their own foil-lined baking sheet, and toast in a 300F oven until lightly brown. Stir every 2 minutes; the coconut should be done in about half the time of the macadamia nuts.

When lightly/golden brown, remove baking sheet from oven, and remove nut-covered foil from baking sheet and set on the counter to cool. This will hopefully prevent them from overcooking on the hot baking sheet.

Place toasted, cooled macadamia nuts and coconut in food processor with 1/8 teaspoon salt, 1/3 cup brown sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon allspice. Pulse until coarsely chopped, then stop - don't keep going until it turns into nut butter!

Again, taste-test and adjust seasoning. You should want to steal nibbles of these nuts on their own.

Step 5: Layer Dessert

I'm using a trifle bowl here, but would recommend you make this in individual-serving containers. Wine glasses work well for fancy occasions, while small canning jars are a great choice for informal occasions. Bonus: add a lid, and the canning jars transport beautifully.

Regardless of your container, you'll follow this layering procedure:

- Nut mixture to 1/4" thick
- Sweet potato puree to 1/2-3/4" thick
- Whipped cream to same thickness as sweet potato puree
- Repeat

Be sure to wipe the inside surface of the bowl as you go, so each layer is a pristine splash of color. Wavy is fine, just not smeary.

As you approach the top, adjust your thickness slightly to ensure you end with a whipped cream layer that's even with or mounded above the top of the bowl.

Note that it's always a good thing to have extra ingredients left over!  You can pile them in a bowl and eat them as your well-earned treat, or grab a couple of small containers and make some more single-serving parfaits.  This is where those lidded jam jars come in super-handy.

Step 6: Prepare Meringue

Place 3 egg whites in a clean and dry mixing bowl, and beat until they form soft peaks.

Sprinkle in 6 Tablespoons white sugar, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, and a pinch of allspice, and whip until egg whites turn glossy and form stiff peaks.

Spoon over top of the parfait(s), completely covering the whipped cream layer. Now's the time to make dramatic swoopy shapes in the meringue if you so desire.

Step 7: Flame and Serve

Never pass up the opportunity to cook with a blowtorch! This is sure to impress the rest of the room, and you'll quickly discover that babies and small children LOVE fire. Oh yes.

You can also use a brulee torch or even a broiler (leave the oven door open) to toast the top of your meringue, but if you can possibly lay hands on a big torch it will be lots more fun.

Serve immediately. Make sure your spoon is long enough to fit the container.

If you have to refrigerate the parfait(s), cover the un-flamed meringue with plastic wrap to protect from errant fingers and fridge odors. Flame just before serving.

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