Sweet potato casserole is a must-have Thanksgiving side dish for many. It isn’t one that my family ever served when I was growing up, but after you’ve had a taste of one it is easy to see why the sweet side dish is such a favorite. I used it as inspiration for this Sweet Potato Bread Pudding with Marshmallow Topping. It’s a tribute to that side dish – complete with a layer of toasted marshmallows on top – that is meant to be served as dessert.
This bread pudding is made with sweet potato puree, brown sugar and a warm blend of cinnamon, cardamom and nutmeg. The custard mixture looks and smells a lot like a very liquidy version of sweet potato pie filling. It is poured over cubed bread and left to soak for a bit before being poured into a baking dish and baked in the oven. I bake the bread pudding until it is set, then sprinkle the marshmallows over the top and slide the dish back under the broiler for a minute to toast them. I like the look of mini marshmallows, but full sized marshmallows make a fine topping, as well.
The bread pudding is rich, but not too heavy, and you can really taste the sweet potato. The spices – especially the hint of cardamom, which I love with sweet potato – give it a really nice depth of flavor, too. The bread pudding isn’t too sweet on its own (unlike some sweet potato casseroles!), so the sweetness from the marshmallow is a nice finish for this dessert, and also means that you don’t need to make a separate sauce for serving.
I typically use challah when I make bread pudding, as the tender and eggy loaves make a great base for a sweet dessert. If you don’t have challah, you can use something like brioche or even plain white bread. While you can pretty much use any kind of bread to make a bread pudding, I prefer not to use whole grain breads because some of them have a strong flavor and take away from the dessertiness of a sweet pudding. And since you’re topping this particular bread pudding off with a layer of toasted marshmallows anyway, you might as well not worry about whether you’re getting whole grains in it when you’re indulging in a slice.
Sweet Potato Bread Pudding with Marshmallow Topping
2 2/3 cups milk (pref. whole)
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups sweet potato puree
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
9-10 cups cubed bread, pref. challah or brioche
4 cups mini marshmallows
Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking dish.
In a medium bowl, whisk together milk, eggs, sweet potato puree, sugar, vanilla and spices until very smooth.
Place cubed bread in a large bowl, and pour sweet potato mixture over the top. Use a spatula to gently fold the bread cubes until they are well coated. Allow bread mixture to stand for 20 minutes to soak up the custard.
Pour bread mixture into prepared pan and spread it into an even layer.
Bake for 40 minutes, or until the pudding is set and springs back when lightly pressed.
Take the dish out of the oven and evenly distribute the mini marshmallows over the top. Place pan under the broiler for about 1 minute, until the marshmallows puff up and brown.
Allow to cool for at least 15 minutes before serving. Leftovers should be stored in the refrigerator.