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What to do with home-grown yams? Make candied yams!

I have made many versions of candied yams throughout the years. I have a relative who always asks me to bring candied yams for the holidays. I figure this is because he has no interest in healthy eating and he probably thought there is no way I can make candied yams healthy (I have a habit of making everything a little bit healthier than standard fare.) After all, candied yams are a dish drenched in butter and sugar and topped with marshmallows. How can anyone put a healthy spin on that? Well, this year I found a somewhat healthier recipe, although I still would not classify it as a health food. It uses fresh orange juice and maple syrup instead of brown sugar, two things I feel better about using. The first time I made this recipe, I followed it exactly and the results were great. The second time I added 2 tablespoon of bacon drippings I had leftover from another recipe and lowered the butter by the same  amount. The yams were spectacular! Everyone agreed, these were the best yams ever. Here is the original recipe:


I always try to make everything a little bit healthier; candied yams are no exception. Most candied yam recipes out there call for butter and either brown sugar or dark corn syrup. I keep the butter in my version  but swap out the less healthy sweeteners for a combination of orange juice and maple syrup. I steep the mix with real vanilla beans to add complexity of flavor. I top the whole thing with natural vanilla marshmallows from a local bakery. The result is somewhat decadent, somewhat healthy and completely delicious. I like to bake the candied yams in my toaster oven while my main dish is in my full-sized oven. This way everything is hot and ready at the same time.

Ingredients

4 large yams

1/2 cup of freshly squeezed orange juice

1/2 cup of grade B maple syrup (grade B maple syrup costs less and tastes better than grade A)

1 stick (4 ounces) of good quality butter

1 real vanilla pod

1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract

1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon of ground mace (you may substitute ground nutmeg if you can't find the mace, but lower it to 1/8 teaspoon)

1/4 teaspoon of sea salt

12 ounces of natural vanilla marshmallows

Directions

Heat your toaster oven to 400 degrees F.

Peel the yams. Cut the yams into 1/2 inch cubes and place them into a shallow baking dish. Combine the butter, orange juice, maple syrup, vanilla extract, cinnamon, mace and sea salt in a saucepan. Carefully split the vanilla bean lengthwise and use the back end of the knife blade to scrape out the seeds. Put both the pod and seeds into the saucepan. Heat over low heat for 30 minutes, try to avoid letting it boil or simmer during this time. Remove the vanilla pod and pour the sauce over the cubed yams. Gently stir to coat all the cubes. Bake until the yams are soft all the way through; this should take about 45 minutes. Remove from the toaster oven and evenly distribute the vanilla marshmallows over the top. Return the yams to the toaster oven and turn the temperature up to 475 degrees F. Bake until the marshmallows are slightly browned; this should take about 8 minutes. This is one area where a toaster oven is very useful. The close proximity of the heating elements leads to quick and even browning.

You may have trouble locating natural marshmallows and the ingredients in normal store-bought ones are far from natural. Here is my suggestion: go to a local bakery and ask if they would be willing to make them for you. Chances are, someone at the bakery also took a few candy making and confectionery classes while at culinary school. Most locally owned small businesses are more than willing to provide their customers with whatever they are looking for. The bakery around the corner from me makes mine as long as I give them a 48 hour notice.

Visit Toaster Oven Reviews to find the best toaster oven for candied yams and so much more. You'll find thousands of reviews as well as a handy buying guide to help you along the way. You will also find more recipes perfect for your toaster oven.

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Etiam pulvinar consectetur dolor sed malesuada. Ut convallis euismod dolor nec pretium. Nunc ut tristique massa.

Nam sodales mi vitae dolor ullamcorper et vulputate enim accumsan. Morbi orci magna, tincidunt vitae molestie nec, molestie at mi. Nulla nulla lorem, suscipit in posuere in, interdum non magna.