I once read that the average Thanksgiving table boasts seven side dishes. SEVEN! At first I thought that number must be inaccurate but then I counted up my family’s favorites:
- Mashed Potatoes
- Candied Yams
- Scalloped Corn
- Apple Salad
- Green Bean Casserole
- Cranberry Sauce
That’s eight. Plus turkey and a number of pies.
When we gather in large numbers, we have to have them all. Each one is somebody’s favorite except maybe the green beans, but if they go then another green vegetable replaces them, if only on principle.
When we’re a smaller group, I’m always looking for dishes to nix. Rolls and yams are usually first on my chopping block, but my family always wrestles them back onto the table.
So I thought I’d try a different tactic: I’d combine them.
Candied Yam Dinner Rolls
One small orange-fleshed yam (whatever variety you’d use for candied yams, like jewel or garnet), steamed and mashed (about a cup of mash)
One tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
½ tablespoon kosher salt
¼ cup packed light brown sugar
3 cups all-purpose flour
One packet (2 ¼ tsp) active dry yeast
½ cup half and half, warmed
One large egg
Marshmallows, the square kind they sell for s’mores if you can find them (optional)
In the bowl of a stand mixer, stir together the flour and yeast.
Stir together the mashed sweet potato, butter, salt, and brown sugar. Add to the flour mixture in the bowl and turn the mixer on low, then crack in the egg and slowly add the warm half and half.
When the dough has come together, increase the mixer’s speed medium-low (no higher than this, or your mixer will shake and jump off the counter—trust me, I know). Let the mixer knead the dough for about ten minutes, until the dough is very stretchy and elastic.
Move the dough out of the mixer bowl and into a separate, greased bowl, turning the dough once so it is greased top and bottom. Cover the bowl and allow to rise at room temperature for several hours, until doubled in size.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and fold in half, then in quarters, to deflate. Divide the dough into eight to sixteen equal pieces and shape into your chosen style of roll.
Cover the rolls loosely with plastic wrap or a light tea towel and allow to rise for about an hour, until they’re double in size. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Bake at 425 for five minutes, then reduce heat to 350 and bake until they sound hollow when tapped on the underside (time will vary by shape and size of rolls.
Optional: slice four of the marshmallows in half laterally, as you would split open a hamburger bun.
When the rolls are done baking, place one half marshmallow on the top of each roll and return to the oven for about one to two minutes, until the marshmallows start to puff. Switch to broiler heat, full blast, and allow the tops of the marshmallows to brown lightly. Watch closely to be sure the marshmallows do not burn.
Allow to cool fully before digging in. Embrace the sweet nature of the rolls by serving with honey butter, or go for contrast and use sage butter instead.