Recipe: Sweet Potato Gnocchi (with Hazelnuts and Maple Syrup)
This recipe started off with the idea that it would be somewhat healthy. While some may still try to make such argument, I think they’d lose. But if you like sweet stuff and want a filling dinner, here’s a sweet and savory combination that’s killer: Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Hazelnuts and Maple Syrup topped with a Bourbon Brown Butter Sauce:
A slight word of warning: this dough was a little tricky. If you haven’t made ‘regular’ gnocchi (recipe here), you may want to start with it so you can get an idea of the consistency you’re looking for. It’s not overly complicated but if you’re hesitating at all, you can start there to boost your confidence (and it rocks!)
Here’s a few photos of the process before we share the recipe:
Ingredients – Gnocchi
- 2 pounds of yams/sweet potatoes
- 1 cup white flour
- 3/4 cup whole flour (we used red fife)
- 3/4 cup whole hazelnuts
- 4 tablespoons maple syrup
- Chile flakes to taste
- A few squirts of liquid smoke (optional but helps bring out the maple while keeping the sweetness in check)
- Salt to taste
- Pepper to taste
- 1 room temperature egg, lightly beaten to a consistent color.
Ingredients – Sauce (can be made ahead)
- 0.5 cups of butter
- 0.5 cups of brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons of bourbon
- 1 large tablespoon of fresh savory herbs (like sage) or 1 tablespoon of herbes salees (which is what we used and I adore).
- Generous pinch of salt (omit if using herbes salees)
Directions – Gnocchi
- Start by putting a large pot of salted water on the stove and turn to max. Use too much water; this will help the water stay near a boil when you add the yams/ sweet potatoes and stop them from absorbing a bunch of water.
- Peel and slice the yams into large hunks.
- While waiting for the water, blitz the hazelnuts until they form a powder or ‘flour.’ Ensure you’ve removed all chunks but know that you won’t get a fine flour.
- Toast the hazelnut flour over gentle heat, stirring often. Make sure not to burn.
- Once the yams have cooked through, drain well and mash fine.
- Add the maple syrup and egg. Mix well and allow to cool.
- Add the liquid smoke, chile flakes, salt and pepper after checking that the mixture is cool.
- Add the flour, a bit at a time to make the dough. Add a bit, mix, add a bit, mix and repeat until done. You should have a lovely elastic dough. Do not rush this step.
- Add the hazelnut flour and fold to incorporate.
- If your dough is very sticky, add more flour until you have a dough that you can form into a loose ball and doesn’t stick to your floured hands.
- Pre-heat the oven to 325.
- Cover and allow the dough to rest for 30 minutes. You can make your sauce now (separate instructions below).
- Place a bit of extra flour on a large cutting board. Use this flour any time your hands stick to your dough or it gets stuck to anything. Little layers of flour will prevent sticking.
- Roll small balls of flour into tubes – about the width of a large finger (but not a thumb) and as long as is practical for you to hole (about twice the length of a finger). Be carefull stacking the final gnocchi as they have a habit of sticking together (not a good thing, in this case).
- As you finish each roll, cut into chunks.
- The next part is optional but recommended. It’s how I make the chunks look less chunky. Simply take an oversized bowl (as big as possible but you’ll need to lift it with one hand). Toss some flour in it (not a lot is needed). Use one hand to place gnocchi in the blow (one at a time) while rotating the bowl in a circular motion with the other. You can leave the other gnocchi in the bowl as you proceed, emptying the bowl once before finishing the entire batch (otherwise the weight of the gnocchi will crush others). Keep adding flour as needed.
- When your water hits a full boil, add the gnocchi to it. The gnocchi will float when it’s finished cooking (it’s very quick) – drain it well. Taste 1 to sample; they are dense and may need to cook a little longer than typical gnocchi.
- Toss the gnocchi in a bit of olive oil and a touch of salt. Place in oven for 15 minutes or until they taste tender.
- Toss in sauce and serve immediately.
Directions – Sauce
- Melt butter over medium-high heat.
- Add rest of ingredients.
- Bring to a gentle boil, periodically stirring.
- Reduce to a gentle simmer and let it simmer for 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat until you are almost ready to serve your dish and reheat.
It is a very sweet dish but was a great weekend treat!