When fall season rolls in, this popular Japanese dessert “Sweet Potato” brings a nostalgic memory to many Japanese. Double baked in the oven, the mashed sweet potato dessert is served in its own shell for a unique presentation. It’s sweet and creamy and makes a wonderful autumn dessert or snack.
Does your culture use sweet potato in desserts? The Japanese absolutely adore sweet potato treats and often use it both savory and sweet dishes. You may have seen popular snacks like Daigaku Imo (Candied Sweet Potatoes) at the street stalls and Sweet Potato Pies at local bakeries in Japan.
Today I’m sharing Sweet Potato (スイートポテト) recipe. You may ask what I’m making with it. Well, I’m making double baked “Sweet Potato” and that’s the name of this dessert!
Watch How to Make Japanese Sweet Potato
When fall season rolls in, this popular Japanese dessert “Sweet Potato” brings a nostalgic memory to many Japanese. Double baked in the oven, the mashed sweet potato dessert is served in its own shell for a unique presentation. It’s sweet and creamy and makes a wonderful autumn dessert!
What is Japanese Sweet Potato Dessert?
Basically, it’s a dessert made out of sweet potato puree and served in the shells to make it look like an actual sweet potato itself (too many “sweet potatoes” in one sentence!). Your brain thinks you’re going to take a bite into a savory vegetable, but it turns out to be sweet, creamy and silky. And that’s what makes this dessert fun and surprising!
It gets confusing when the name of the dessert literally means Sweet Potato while it is made out of Japanese sweet potato. Why would we do that? “Sweet Potato” dessert was invented around Meiji period when Japan had a lot of western influence. This dessert made with Japanese sweet potato Satsumaimo (さつまいも), heavy cream, butter, and sugar was considered a western dessert. Therefore, instead of naming this dessert a Japanese name, it received the English name “Sweet Potato”, written in katakana スイートポテト.
Satsumaimo has purple-ish or reddish color skin and creamy white flesh that turns yellow after cooking. The taste is much sweeter than ordinary sweet potatoes found in the U.S, which makes it an ideal ingredient for making desserts.
Recipes Using Satsumaimo on Just One Cookbook
- Steamed Vegetables with Miso Sesame Sauce
- Kuri Kinton (Candied Chestnuts with Sweet Potatoes) for Japanese New Year
- Gluten Free Tempura
Creamy and Smooth Japanese Sweet Potato
The ultimate goal for this dessert include 3 important aspects:
- The silky and smooth texture of the satsumaimo puree.
- Sweet, but not overly sweet.
- Buttery, rich, and creamy taste.
These are the most important characteristics you look for when you eat Sweet Potato the dessert.
3 Tips to Make Successful Japanese Sweet Potato
It’s a simple recipe, but if you don’t pay close attention, your Sweet Potato may end up looking rather sad and can taste worse than the actual baked sweet potatoes. So don’t miss these three tips!
1. Adjust the amount of ingredients for a smooth and creamy puree
Sweet potatoes vary in sizes and each one weighs differently. I strongly recommend weighing them and make an adjustment if necessary after comparing with my recipe. If yours weigh more, then you will need to modify the amount of butter, sugar, and heavy cream. This ensures the right texture of the puree.
Without the right amount of ingredients, your puree will turn into a big lump and won’t be even smooth and creamy. I know so because I’ve failed a few times by following too closely to my own old measurement without any alteration.
2. Keep a 5 mm wall to create sturdy shells
When you scoop out the flesh, create a sweet potato shell with a 5 mm (1/4 inch) wall. Don’t carve out too much flesh because if your wall is thinner, the wall cannot support itself.
3. Smooth out the filling and make a little mountain
When you stuff the shell with sweet potato puree, make sure to create a mountain with a gentle slope. Because of the extra amount added to create the slope, you can only make five Sweet Potatoes instead of 6 (each sweet potato makes 2 shells).
Where to Find Japanese Sweet Potatoes?
Aside from Japanese grocery stores, you can find Japanese Sweet Potatoes at Whole Foods and some other well-stock major stores these days. If you know of your local farmers market that carries them, please share your location in the comment below.
I hope you grab a few of these highly nutritious Japanese Sweet Potatoes and make this delicious dessert. It’s a great way to satisfy your sweet tooth and celebrate fall without overdoing it.
Japanese Sweet Potato (Dessert)
- 3 Japanese sweet potatoes (satsumaimo) (1.8 lb, 816 g; it’s important to weigh the sweet potatoes for the right amount of sugar and cream. Ideally, get a medium size to create a nice size shell. If it’s small, it’s hard to remove the flesh without breaking the shell.)
- 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 5 Tbsp sugar (to keep the sweet potato’s natural yellow color, I suggest using granulated sugar instead of other sugars such as brown sugar)
- 2 large egg yolks
- ⅓ cup heavy whipping cream (you can use milk instead for a lighter version, but I like the rich taste heavy cream gives to the dessert)
- ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 large egg yolk (the egg yolk acts as a binder as well as additional rich yellow color and custardy taste)
- ½ tsp toasted black sesame seeds
- Gather all the ingredients. Preheat the oven to 375ºF (190ºC). For a convection oven, reduce cooking temperature by 25ºF (15ºC).
- Wash the sweet potatoes carefully (the skin is edible and very nutritious) under running water. Pat dry with paper towel.
- Wrap each sweet potato with a sheet of aluminum foil. Poke a few holes with a skewer (for steam to escape).
- Put the sweet potatoes in the oven and bake for 50-60 minutes, or until the inserted skewer goes through all the way.
- Carefully open the aluminum foil and cut the sweet potato in half lengthwise. Make sure not to tear the skin.
- While it’s hot, using a spoon, scoop out the flesh leaving a 5 mm (¼ inch) wall around the edges to create a shell. We use the shells to stuff the sweet potato puree later on, so be careful not to break the wall. You will only use 5 best-looking shells out of 6.
- Transfer the sweet potato flesh onto the fine-mesh sieve and strain the flesh by pressing it with a wooden spatula. Alternatively, you can put the flesh in a food processor and make a puree (you may need to add a tiny bit of water if the sweet potato flesh is too dense).
- Continue with the rest of the sweet potatoes. Collect the strained pureed sweet potato in a bowl.
- In a medium saucepan, heat 2 Tbsp unsalted butter over medium-low heat. Once the butter is completely melted, add the pureed sweet potato.
- Add 5 Tbsp sugar and mix well together.
- Then add egg yolks one at a time and quickly incorporate into the sweet potato mixture so the egg doesn’t become scrambled egg. Keep stirring.
- Gradually add ⅓ cup heavy cream, stirring continuously, and combine well with the mixture.
- Add ½ tsp vanilla extract and mix until the mixture is smooth and creamy. If the mixture turns into a big lump and not the silky texture, you can add more melted butter and/or heavy cream to loosen up. Turn off the heat.
- Scoop the mixture into the sweet potato shells. I use a cookie dough scooper to make the job easier (this is great for portion control, too!).
- Using a offset spatula (or a silicone spatula), smooth out the surface of the filling, creating a gentle slope in the center of the sweet potatoes.
- Place the sweet potato shells on a baking sheet lined with a sheet of parchment paper.
- In a small bowl, whisk 1 egg yolk and brush the egg wash on the sweet potato mixture.
- Sprinkle black sesame seeds on the center of each sweet potato.
- Position the rack in the middle of the oven. Broil medium (500ºF/250ºC) for 3-4 minutes, or until the top starts to brown a little bit.
- Remove from the oven and serve immediately.