Festive Sweet Potato Orange Cups

Wouldn't these be perfect on your Thanksgiving table?

Wouldn’t these be perfect on your Thanksgiving table?


Are you already planning your menu, and checking it twice?

Then, make room on it this Thanksgiving for “Sweet Potato Orange Cups.”

How adorable and special are these hallowed-out orange halves, filled with coconut-scented mashed sweet potatoes and crunchy pecans?

Sure, you can make a big bowl of sweet potato puree and call it a day. But serving the creamy sweet potatoes mounded in individual orange cups like this just makes it all more fun and distinctive.

The recipe is from the new cookbook, “Celebrations: A Year of Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, and Paleo Recipes for Every Occasion” (Ten Speed Press), of which I received a review copy. It’s by Bay Area food writer Danielle Walker, founder of the grain-free blog, againstallgrain.com.


The 125 recipes all eschew gluten, dairy and grain. They are arranged by occasion, such as “Game Day Buffet,” “Birthday Party,” and “Christmas Breakfast.”

However, that doesn’t mean you can’t mix and match. For instance, the recipe for “Sweet Potato Orange Cups” is actually listed in the “Easter Brunch” chapter. But I think it’s also ideal for Thanksgiving.

I don’t follow a gluten-free, grain-free or paleo diet. In fact, I’m fortunate that I can eat pretty much anything — heartily and lustily. Walker’s recipes definitely lend themselves to folks like me, not just those who have to adhere to special dietary restrictions. These aren’t recipes that leave you feeling deprived, not with the likes of “Caramel-Pecan Sticky Buns,” “Garlic Rosemary Rib Roast,” and “Carnitas on Tostones.” The recipes incorporate ingredients such as arrowroot powder, almond meal, chia seeds, coconut oil, and coconut milk.

Walker’s “Sweet Potato Orange Cups” is a tradition started by her great-grandmother. I can see why so many generations of her family serve them happily, year after year. They are eye-catching and delicious. The sweet potato mash is not candy-sweet, but modestly so, with a subtle coconut note from the coconut milk it’s mashed with. The recipe calls for coconut sugar, but I used maple sugar instead because I had it readily on hand. It was a perfect complement.

Hallowing out the orange halves does take a little time, but it’s not a laborious chore. The original recipe calls for boiling the halved sweet potatoes in water for 10 to 15 minutes. If your sweet potatoes are large, though, you may want to cut them into fourths; even then, it will probably take an additional 10 minutes more for them to become tender.

You can fill the orange cups ahead of time, and bake them just before you sit down to the Thanksgiving feast.

Then, get ready for all the ooh’s and ahh’s they elicit.

Sweet potatoes imbued with coconut and orange flavor.

Sweet potatoes imbued with coconut and orange flavor.

Sweet Potato Orange Cups

(Serves 8)

4 large navel oranges

2 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, halved crosswise

1/4 cup ghee or coconut oil

1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

1/4 cup coconut sugar

1/4 cup full-fat coconut milk

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

1/4 cup chopped pecans


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Slice a thin piece of the peel off each end of the oranges to make flat surfaces so the halves will stand upright. Cut the oranges in half, then working over a bowl to catch the juices, scoop out the pulp with a reamer or spoon, leaving only the shell. Squeeze the orange membranes into the bowl to extract any additional juices and discard the pulp.

Put the sweet potatoes in a pot of cold water. Bring the water to a boil over high heat and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, until the sweet potatoes are fork-tender. Drain and let cool slightly. Peel the potatoes and discard any fibrous strings. Put them in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the beater attachment, or use an electric handheld mixer. Beat to mash slightly, then add the ghee, orange juice, coconut sugar, coconut milk, and salt. Beat the sweet potatoes until smooth and creamy.

Fill each orange cup with the sweet potato mixture and top with the pecans. Place them on a large rimmed baking sheet and bake, uncovered, for 20 minutes, or until heated through. Serve hot.

Make It Ahead: The orange cups can be prepared and filled up to 3 days in advance. Cover and refrigerate, then bake as directed before serving.

From “Celebrations” by Danielle Walker


More Sweet Potato Goodness: Spiced Sweet Potato Bundt Cake


And: See’s Scotch Kiss Sweet Potatoes


And: Sweet Potato and Cumin Soup with Feta Yogurt

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