If you don’t like sweet dishes, you might want to skip this recipe. There is no getting around the flavorful syrup that is the hallmark of candied yams. This recipe is my nod to the classic side dish that is ubiquitous on holiday tables throughout the South. Traditional versions rely heavily on lots of butter and white and brown sugar. This syrup takes a lighter-handed approach, combining a tad of vegan butter with cane sugar, molasses, and maple syrup for sweetness plus orange and lemon juices and lemon zest to brighten it. Garnet yams, which have a soft, sweet, pumpkinlike flavor, are the perfect tuber to set this dish off.
2 tablespoons plus ½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
2½ pounds Garnet yams, peeled and cut into ½-inch-thick rounds
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons vegan butter
¼ cup raw cane sugar
2 tablespoons molasses
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
¼ cup fresh orange juice
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
¼ teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons Cashew Cream
1 (2-inch) cinnamon stick
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
In a large pot over high heat, bring 3 quarts water to a boil. Add 2 tablespoons of the salt. Gently slide in the yams, cover, remove from the heat, and set aside for 1 hour. Drain the yams in a colander and set aside for 30 minutes to dry.
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, gently toss the yams with the olive oil. Spread them on the prepared baking sheet in a single layer and roast for 20 minutes, turning them over after 10 minutes for even cooking. Remove from the oven and lower the oven temperature to 350°F.
While the yams are roasting, combine the butter, sugar, molasses, maple syrup, orange juice, lemon juice, lemon zest, 2 tablespoons water, cashew cream, and the remaining ½ teaspoon salt in a saucepan over medium heat. Simmer, stirring often, until hot to the touch and the sugar has dissolved, about 5 minutes. Set side.
Place the cinnamon stick at the bottom of a 2-quart baking dish and layer the roasted yams in it. Pour the molasses mixture over the yams. Bake, covered with aluminum foil, for 30 minutes total, thoroughly basting the sweet potatoes with the liquid in the baking dish every 10 minutes. Remove the foil, sprinkle with the ground cinnamon, and bake, uncovered, until the yams are tender and the sauce has reduced and thickened, about 20 minutes.