While the rest of the food blogging world is talking about autumn, I can only talk about my tropical country’s lack of it. And believe me when I say I know what I’m missing, because I’ve spent autumns abroad, and it’s always been perfect: the weather, the way the wind blows, the orange colouring everywhere you turn, the sound of the leaves crunching below your feet, getting to wear scarves…
Autumn is my absolute favourite season of them all. Though I find that I run right back home come wintertime, because I don’t like the cold much. Hmm. I guess you can say that’s one of the perks of living in a tropical country (if only we could get autumn here!), well that and the fact that there is an abundance of sweet potatoes pretty much everywhere you turn.
That’s excellent news for sweet potato-lovers like myself. I like to eat sweet potatoes in many forms: as baked potato sticks, or dark-brown sugared potato fries. But eating them simply steamed without other accompaniments is the best for me. There are days when we would have these whole, freshly-steamed sweet potatoes as an afternoon snack with some tea on the side. The sweet potatoes would be hot and tender, then we’d peel off the skin, never holding them for too long on one hand to keep from burning our palms and fingers.
In a way, the orangeness of them always reminds me of how much I miss fall, much like a pumpkin does whenever I see one. I think of it as the kind of comfort food I would eat during the chillier autumn afternoons. To be honest, this is the first time I’ve ever made pastries with sweet potatoes in them, because they often end up in my tummy before I can figure out which recipe I would like to try them on. I’ve considered making the more typical cupcakes and pies, but then I came across this recipe, and then I knew immediately that this should be my first sweet potato concoction. And I don’t regret it even one bit.
For this recipe, the sweet potatoes work wonderfully in giving a soft and sticky texture for the bars. The grated ginger adds a scent and a taste that screams autumn, not to mention a special kick. The chocolate and the graham cracker crust gives just the right sweetness that binds the whole recipe together. I really enjoyed the mix of flavours, along with cutting down through the bar with my fork to reveal all the differently coloured layers.
Although it might not be obvious in the pictures, I actually had a little problem with my chocolate layer. Because I got overly excited to get this into oven, I only waited 15 minutes for the melted chocolate to cool and as it turns out- and although the original recipe says this is enough time- it was not enough time for it to harden into a thick solid chocolate layer. Once I poured in my sweet potato mixture, some of the still-liquid chocolate got swirled into it (those are the small black spots you see on the photos, the dark spots inside the orange part of the bars).
For a moment, I was nervous that I would no longer see the chocolate layer when I cut them into squares, but once baked, it actually turned out fine… except for the fact that I ran out of graham cracker crumbs. S0 as you can see my base layer was so thin that it almost disappeared into the chocolate layer. But to be clear, the taste was still excellent. Just don’t follow my example of not making sure I have the correct amount of ingredients I need before getting started.
Sweet Potato-Chocolate Bars
Makes about 12 bars in a 9-inch pan
For the Graham Cracker Crust
- 225 grams Graham Crackers, finely ground
- 85 grams finely ground almonds, optional
- 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, finely grated
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 cup 120g unsalted butter, melted
For the Chocolate Layer
- 1/2 pound dark chocolate, 45%-60%, cut in small pieces
- 1/2 cup milk
For the Sweet Potato Layer
- 2 cups 455 grams Sweet Potato Puree
- 3 large eggs, slightly beaten
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, finely grated
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 cup milk
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- pecans, for optional garnish
Make the crust
- 1. Combine graham cracker crust ingredients in a bowl and mix until well combined. Spread into an even layer in a 9″x9″ baking dish.
Make the chocolate layer
- 2. Gently melt chocolate in a bowl over steaming water (bain marie). Add milk and mix over heat until completely combined.
- 3. Remove from heat and pour over graham cracker crust. Spread & gently shake to even out. Set aside to cool around 30 minutes or more before layering in the sweet potato mix.
- 4. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Set the rack to the middle of the oven.
Make the sweet potato layer
- 5. Combine sweet potato ingredients in a bowl and mix until well combined. Gently pour the sweet potato mix over chocolate layer, evening it out lightly.
- 6. Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until the outer 1 inch closest to the baking dish appears set. The inner part will still have a little wiggle when gently shook. Set aside to cool, then put in the refrigerator until fully chilled.
- 7. Slice with a clean knife into even squares, wiping knife clean between each cut. Garnish with whipped cream and/or pecans.