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Sweet Potato Bars Recipe

yield: 20 bars
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Special Equipment

  • Special Equipment: Pie weights
  • A food processor
  • An instant thermometer, preferably digital (I use this one)
  • A chef's torch

Ingredients

For the Roasted Sweet Potatoes

    (makes enough for one 9 x 13-inch pan)

    • 1 ½ pounds from around 4 medium-large sweet potatoes, scrubbed

    For the Brown Butter Shortbread Crust

      (makes enough for one 9 x 13-inch pan)

      • 2 ¼ cup 10.15 ounce all-purpose flour
      • cup 2.65 ounces confectioners' sugar, sifted if lumpy
      • Pinch of kosher salt
      • 1 cup 8 ounces Vermont Creamery Unsalted Cultured Butter

      For the Sweet Potato Filling

        (makes enough for one 9 x 13-inch pan)

        • 1 cup 8 ounces heavy cream
        • 2/3 cup 5.35 ounces Vermont Creamery Crème Fraîche
        • ½ cup 4 ounces maple syrup
        • 4 large eggs at room temperature
        • 1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
        • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt

        For the Meringue Topping

          (makes enough for one 9 x 13-inch pan)

          • 4 large egg whites
          • 1 cup 7 ounces granulated sugar
          • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
          • A pinch of kosher salt

          Instructions

          Day 1: Roast the Sweet Potatoes

          • Prep Time: <5 minutes
          • Work Time: 5 minutes
          • Bake Time: 60 minutes
          • Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 400 (F).
          • Tightly wrap each sweet potato in a layer of aluminum foil and place on a parchment-lined half sheet pan.
          • Bake for 60 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes can be pieced easily with a fork. Turn off the oven and leave the sweet potatoes inside to cool with the oven.
          • Once at room temperature, place each sweet potato (still wrapped in the foil!) in an airtight container. Refrigerate until needed for the sweet potato filling (recipe below)—the sweet potatoes will keep in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

          Day 2: Make the Brown Butter Shortbread Crust

          • Prep Time: 5 minutes
          • Work Time: 15 minutes
          • Bake Time: 30 minutes
          • Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 (F). Lightly spray a 9 x 13-inch cake pan with cooking spray and line it with parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on the pan’s two long sides. Lightly spray the parchment, too.
          • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, confectioners’ sugar, and salt. Beat on low until combined. Add the Vermont Creamery Unsalted Cultured Butter and beat on low until the dough clumps around the paddle and/or sides of the bowl, 2 to 3 minutes.
          • Transfer the dough to the prepared pan and use a tart tamper or your hands to press it evenly over the bottom of the pan, all the way to the edges. Place a sheet of parchment over the dough and fill it with pie weights (in a pinch, use dried beans or uncooked rice). Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the crust is golden brown. Remove the pie weights and parchment. Cool the crust completely in the pan on a wire rack, then cover loosely with plastic wrap and store on the counter overnight.

          Day 3: Make the Sweet Potato Filling, Assemble, and Bake the Bars

          • Prep Time: 5 minutes
          • Work Time: 10 minutes
          • Bake Time: 35 minutes
          • Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 (F).
          • Once the oven is preheated, remove and discard the plastic wrap from the brown butter shortbread crust. Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes while you make the sweet potato filling.
          • Make the sweet potato filling: remove the sweet potatoes from the refrigerator, remove and discard the aluminum foil. Place the sweet potatoes in the bowl of a food processor and add the heavy cream, Vermont Creamery Crème Fraîche, maple syrup, eggs, cinnamon, and salt.
          • Process for 5 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes are completely mashed and you have a smooth mixture.
          • Remove the shortbread crust from the oven and place on a wire rack. Immediately use a rubber spatula to scrape the sweet potato filling over the shortbread mixture, using an offset spatula to spread it evenly across the pan.
          • Bake for 35 minutes, or until the filling is set but still slightly wiggly in the center. Cool completely on a wire rack, before covering with a loose sheet of plastic wrap and refrigerating overnight.

          Day 4: Make the Meringue Filling and Serve (Finally!)

          • Prep Time: 5 minutes
          • Work Time: 15 minutes
          • Whisk together the egg whites and sugar in a medium, heatproof glass bowl until combined.
          • Place the bowl on top of a saucepan filled with 2 to 3 inches of simmering water and cook, over medium-high heat, until the mixture reads 170 (F) on an instant thermometer (if you don’t have a thermometer, cook the mixture until very warm), about 5 minutes.
          • Remove from heat and immediately pour the mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Add the vanilla and salt. Whisk on high until stiff peaks form, 5 to 7 minutes.
          • Use a rubber spatula to scrape the meringue on top of the sweet potato filling, using an offset spatula to spread and swoop the meringue across the entire pan. Use a chef’s torch to gently toast the meringue; in a pinch, place the tray in the broiler and broil on high for 1 minute, watching carefully to ensure that it doesn’t burn.
          • Serve immediately. Run a butter knife or an offset spatula along the edges of the pan and use the overhanging parchment as handles to lift the bars out of the pan and onto a cutting board. Use a hot serrated knife to slice into 20 rectangles, each about 2 ¼ inches wide and 2 ½ inches long, and serve. The bars are best the day the meringue is made, but can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator overnight.