3pounds yams (orange-fleshed sweet potatoes)peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks
1teaspoonbutter, softened(for greasing the baking dish)
4 tablespoonsbutter, cut into small cubes(for the candied yams)
1/3 cup (packed)brown sugar
3tablespoonsreal maple syrup
1/2 cupcoarsely chopped pecans
3-1/2cupsminiature marshmallows(more or less to cover the yams)
Test the Quantity of Cut Yams:
After peeling and cutting the yams into 2-inch chunks, do a quick "quantity" test to see if more cut yams can fit properly in the dish (or if there are too many).
In the baking dish (ungreased), add the cut pieces of yams. Fill the baking dish with cut pieces of yams so that they're evenly spread across the dish and reach about1/2 inchbelow the top of the dish.
Boiling the Yams:
Fill a large pot about 2/3's full with cold water and add the cut yams.
Heat the pan on medium heat and bring the water to a boil.
Let the potatoes cook until a cooking fork or paring knife can easily pierce the potato (about 8 to 9 minutes once the water starts to boil). Be careful not to overcook the potatoes or they’ll be mushy and fall apart.
Preparing the Baking Dish:
While the yams are boiling, generously grease the inside (bottom and sides) of the baking dish (8x8 inch square baking dish). Set the dish aside.
Layering the Yams and Toppings:
Once the yams are fork tender, strain them in a colander. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. If making the yams ahead of time, no need to preheat the oven at this point.
For Layer #1:to the greased baking dish, add an even layer of half the quantity of the cooked yams. Lightly sprinkle half the quantity of salt on the yams. Evenly drizzle half the quantity of the maple syrup on the yams.
Evenly sprinkle half the quantity of the ground cinnamon on the yams. Top the yams with half the quantity of the small cubes of butter (add the butter evenly around the yams so it's not all in one area).
Evenly add half the quantity of the brown sugar and half the amount of chopped pecans on top of the yams.
For Layer #2 - add an even layer of the remaining yams, salt, maple syrup, ground cinnamon, small cubes of butter, brown sugar and pecans.
IF MAKING THE CANDIED YAMS BEFORE SERVING:
Skip the step of wrapping the yams in cellophane (discussed below); andSkip the step of storing the yams in the refrigerator (discussed below).Next, go to the step of wrapping the dish in foil and starting the baking process (discussed below).
IF PARTIALLY PREPARING THIS AHEAD OF TIME:
No more prep is needed for now except for wrapping the baking dish with the prepared yams in cellophane, and storing it in the refrigerator for up to 2 days before the baking process and serving.
The only thing different that needs to be done if partially preparing these yams ahead of time and storing them in the refrigerator is to stir the ingredients together before the baking process.If prepared ahead of time, about 45 minutes before serving, remove the yams from the refrigerator, set the dish on the counter for about 10 minutes to bring it and the ingredients to room temperature, remove and discard the cellophane, and stir the ingredients together.If the yams are made before serving, no need to stir the ingredients before the baking process.
For the Baking Process:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.ABOUT 35 MINUTES BEFORE SERVING - cover the yams in foil and bake in a preheated oven for 15 minutes.
Remove the yams from the oven and set the baking dish onto a cookie sheet (for use when baking the yams again topped with marshmallows).
Remove and discard the foil. Top the yams with marshmallows. Spread the marshmallows evenly over the yams.
Bake uncovered in a preheated oven until the yams are heated through and the marshmallows start to turn a light golden color (about 20 minutes).
Serve as soon as possible while the marshmallows are still crispy. Serve right out of the baking dish (with a warning to guests that the dish is hot of course). Or, transfer the yams to a serving dish or bowl.
Cutting the Yams:1. When cutting the yams (orange flesh sweet potatoes), set them on the cutting board with the flat, cut-side facing down so that the yam doesn't roll when cutting it.2. Don't cut the yam pieces too small or they may turn into mush when cooked.3. Cut the yams into pieces that are all about the same size so that they cook evenly.Boiling the Yams:4. If the water level in the pot is close to the top, remove some of the water so it doesn't boil over.5. The potatoes should cook more evenly when added to cold water. If added to boiling water, the outside of the potato cooks faster than the inside.