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Get A Load of These Gams, Err, Yams

The first time I made a dish of candied yams was for a lark. Was there a more gaily-monikered Thanksgiving staple than “Candied Yams”? Green Beans Exotic has its own charms, but candied yams… well, they’re gay in the best possible sense. That was over ten years ago, when Andy and I were attending our first holidays together. I stuck close to the first recipe I found, deviating not in the slightest from the instructions. Since that time, I’ve become much more confident, at least regarding this dish, which can take some serious deviations and still be edible. (Not so much the case when substituting parsley with cilantro, accident or not.)

Here is the original recipe, a very good place to start. I amended it only slightly the first few times I made it, afraid to mix things up too much, so this is the standard to which you can add and amend to your taste buds’ desire.

Alan’s Candied Yams
- 5 or 6 large yams/sweet potatoes (and we will not argue the difference here)
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup orange liqueor (Cointreau or triple sec)
- 3/4 cup dark corn syrup
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 2 to 3 Tbsp. hot water
- Nutmeg, cinnamon, salt, and pepper – to taste (about 1 tsp each, less of salt and pepper)
- 1 stick butter

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a casserole dish (11″ x 11″ x 2″) with margarine or butter.

Fill a large pot with enough water to cover yams and boil on high until fork just begins to slide easily into them (not completely done). Remove peels and cut in half, then into two inch chunks. Add to casserole dish.

Combine brown sugar, orange liquor, dark corn syrup, maple syrup, vanilla extract, water, and spices in a bowl and mix well. Pour about 3/4 of mix over yams in casserole dish. Cut butter into ten or twelve pats and dot yams with it.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes, then stir and pour remaining mixture over yams. Bake another 15 minutes or so until done.

Some of the variations I’ve done over the years have involved the addition of a crumble on top (a simple butter/brown sugar/flour/oat mix) and, that gay fun ingredient that makes almost nothing better, marshmallows! (Use the mini ones, as they’ll grow much, much bigger in the oven. What’s not to love?)

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