One of the reasons I like using sweet potatoes in dessert is that it really makes for a guilt-free experience when their nutritional properties are considered. Not many other dessert ingredients can claim such high levels of vitamins and antioxidants. This flan keeps well for up to two days in the refrigerator, making it a good make-ahead choice for dinner parties. (For another sweet using these tubers, see the recipe for Mexican candied sweet potatoes in the December 2004 issue of Mexico Connect.)
For the caramel:
- ¾ cup sugar
For the flan:
- 1 pound sweet potatoes, unpeeled, washed
- ¾ cup sugar
- 4 eggs
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 1/3 cups whipping cream
Heat the sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat until it has melted and turned deep golden brown, stirring it with a wooden spoon. Immediately pour it into a flan mold, tipping it quickly so that the syrup covers the bottom and halfway up the sides, coating evenly. Set aside.
Cook the sweet potatoes in boiling water until tender (test by piercing with a fork.) Allow to cool, then peel and mash. Preheat oven to 325º.
Mix mashed sweet potatoes with ¾ cup sugar, the eggs, vanilla, salt and cinnamon.
Bring the cream to a low boil, remove from heat and whisk gradually into the sweet potato mixture. Pour through a strainer into the flan mold. Lightly grease the inside of the flan mold lid and cover the flan. (If you do not have a flan mold, use a cake pan and cover it with aluminum foil.)
Place the flan in a roasting pan and pour hot water into the pan to about halfway up the side of the mold. Bake for about 1 hour or until the sides of the flan are set. (The center will still move slightly when gently shaken.)
Remove the cover from the flan mold or the foil from the cake pan. Run a knife around the edges of the flan. Allow the flan to cool at room temperature on a wire rack for 40 minutes.
Refrigerate the flan at least 8 hours and up to 2 days. The longer it is refrigerated, the more it will set. Invert onto a serving plate. Serves 6.