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Walnut Candied Yams

candied-yams-large-bren-herrera-logoHappy Thanksgiving, beautiful people! I’m so thankful for your friendship, support and sprinkles of inspiration this past year. This space has really changed my life in amazing ways. I’m thankful I’m able to get up every day and do what I love. It’s never “work,” rather a challenge to be better every day and help you live a bit more deliciously and happy!

While I’m thankful for every little detail of my personal and work life, this season has been a bit off. I’ve got 283097890 things going on, leaving me little time to be the creative I usually am which allows me to share goodness with you. It’s actually not quite hit me that it’s now the end of November. That said, I wasn’t quite prepared for his robust holiday. Projects and non-stop travel for the pat three months have caused my calendar to be one big mush of timeless time.  The mayhem is all wonderfully warranted and I can’t wait to share what the 283097890 things are… but I really had an urge to get share a Thanksgiving dish with yu.

Of the 100 things I’m sure you’ve seen and of the 25 I could have made in celebration of, nothing screams at like these candied yams.

You see, I’ve been making these for almost 16 years now. They have become my default dessert — even before flan! — and a beloved family tradition. Truthfully, this dish is my Mom’s avourite dish, after her Cuban dishes. These yams are so incredibly far from anything we grew up eating that we all look forward to noshing.

I’ve mostly made them the same way since I introduced them to the dinner table, but I took a different approach this time. I literally made this yesterday evening, as a very last minute decision while shopping for sugar. It simply hit me that perhaps I should make them to share. Normally, I’d just make them later today, shortly before dinner. We eat later in the evening.

I recently pulled out some beautifully vintage French terra cotta pots I was given a few years ago. I’d not cooked with them and thought this dish was the perfect occasion. I first pressure-cooked the sweet potato, simply to soften them just a bit. 8 minutes was enough. Before adding the par-cooked sweet potato, I made my thick and decadent brown sugar sauce in the same pot, using a bit of the water from the pressure cooker. The aroma emitted from the terra cotta was seductive. My oh my! It perfumed my kitchen so nicely… we have the orange juice and clove to thank! Finally, baking the yams in the terra cotta changed the profile, adding tremendous depth and more of a rustic vibe than years previous in a basic glass casserole. A splash of a high quality orange liqueur sealed the deal–I’m not going back to glass casseroles!


I normally add marshmallow to the yams after they’ve already cooked and the sauce has reduced some. But it was soooo just the way it was, I reserved the marshmallow for single servings. I am pleased. And so will my precious mother! I hope you love them, too.

My friends, Happy Thanksgiving! I pray you are in a happy and peaceful place. I also pray you eat well today and are able to share love and comfort to those less fortunate than we.


Eat well, love unapologetically, pray with true intention, and take care of yourself.

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  • 3 medium sweet potatoes, peel and cut into 1″ chunks
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 2/3 cup reserved pressure cooker liquid
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup marshmallow
  • 3/4 cup walnuts
  • 1 tsp. good powder cinnamon
  • 4 cloves
  • 1 tsp. fresh grated ginger
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 1/8 cup Grand Marnier is optional but a great addition 


Preheat oven to 350F. In medium pot, bring water to boil. Add sweet potato and salt. Cook for high on fifteen minutes or until a bit tender but not fully cooked. Reserve water. In deep skillet, add all ingredients except for marshmallow. Bring to boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.

Using a wooden spoon, transfer yams to baking casserole. Gently pour brown sugar sauce on yams, covering them completely. Bake on 350F for 30 minutes. Remove from oven. Add another 1/2 teaspoon of brown sugar. Evenly spread and cover yams with marshmallow. Bake an additional 15 minutes or until marshmallows are melted and a bit charred.

Serve warm.

*Cook’s notes: This is modified version cooked conventionally.

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