Lia’s Praline Sweet Potatoes

     “I don’t mean to pry, but what are you doing for Thanksgiving?” Alex didn’t know what possessed her to ask, but it was out of her mouth before she could stop herself.
     Lia looked away. She answered without making eye contact. “I’ll just make a small dinner here. My family tried to convince me to come home, but I’m not a huge fan of flying. Trying to do it during the busiest travel week of the year isn’t worth the toll on my psyche.”
     “You’ll come for dinner at my place.” It wasn’t phrased as a question. Alex couldn’t stand the thought of Lia being alone on the holiday.
     “Please don’t feel sorry for me. I’ll be fine.”
     The sharpness in her voice caught Alex off guard. She’d clearly hit a nerve. “I don’t feel sorry for you at all. I’m already having a mishmash of people over. It’ll be casual. And fun.”
     Afraid she was starting to oversell, Alex shut her mouth. She watched Lia mull over the invitation, probably formulating a polite excuse.
     Lia looked her in the eye. “Only if you swear it doesn’t interfere with your plans at all.”
     “The more the merrier. I really do swear. It will be a few people you recognize from the bakery. My sister Meg and her husband will come out from Boston. A new face will liven things up a bit.”
     “Okay. It sounds really nice. Thanks for the invitation. What can I bring?”
     Well, that was easy. Alex mentally patted herself on the back. “Got any Southern specialties up your sleeve?”
     “I do make some mean praline sweet potatoes.”
     “Speak no further.”

Lia shows up to Alex’s with a lot more than sweet potatoes. She’s Southern, after all. She leaves with a lot more than dinner. But that’s another post. Today, we tackle sweet potatoes. This recipe is for a small batch, but is easily doubled. I make them for Thanksgiving, but they’re so good, they don’t really need a reason.

3-4 sweet potatoes
5 T butter, divided
2 T maple whiskey (or 1 T each whiskey and maple syrup)
1/3 c. flour
1/3 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. pecans
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350. Prick potatoes with a fork and bake on a foil-lined sheet one hour or until tender. Cool until you can handle them without burning yourself (at least a half hour, up to two hours).

Meanwhile, blend flour, sugar, and 3T butter until crumbly. Add pecans.

Scoop sweet potato flesh into a separate bowl. Whip with remaining butter and maple whiskey until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Put sweet potatoes into a shallow baking dish and top with praline topping. (May be prepared to this point and refrigerated up to two days.)

Bake at 350 for 30 minutes, until topping is brown and crisp and potatoes are heated through. (Will take longer if refrigerated.)

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