This is perhaps the all time favourite Jamaican dessert. Jamaican puddings are often referred to as “Hell on bottom, hell on top and hallelujah in the middle” because they are traditionally baked with heated coals underneath and on top Dutch ovens. This Sweet Potato Pudding is also vegan and filled with healthy root vegetables. I served it at here with vanilla custard, however, you can serve with a little Rum Cream Sauce (or a virgin version). Jamaica was the main sugar producer in the Caribbean for the British Empire, and Cuba for Spain. This history of sugar production also comes along with rum production, which is a derivative from sugar cane. Rum for the Caribbean is like what Moonshine was to the US or beer is to Germans and Vodka is to Russians. Now, having had such a spirited discussion, let’s get back to this delightful sweet potato pudding.
Ingredients: 1kg sweet potatoes, 1 medium taro (coco) or substitute with yam, 3 1/2 cups creamy coconut milk, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1/2 cup raisins, 1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg, 1/4 tsp almond extract, 1 1/4-1 1/2 cups sugar (varies if potatoes are sweet or not), pinch of salt.
Topping: 3/4 cup creamy coconut milk, 1/2 cup sugar, a few raisins
1. Preheat Oven to 185˚C or 350˚F
2. Wash the sweet potatoes
If you are using yam instead of taro or coco, do not wash yam, just peel it. You can was after peeling.
This is what the taro or coco looks like. We used two small ones and a little piece of yam since we couldn’t find bigger ones. We didn’t measure the yam, but the slice should fit into a small female hand (maybe 400-500g).
Peel your sweet potatoes. We find the ones grown in the Caribbean are naturally sweet. Use any variety you have on hand. Outside the Caribbean, if you can find the orange ones, use those because those are usually sweeter and are filled with Beta-Carotene (Vitamin A).
Since I made this for my column on Comfort Foods, I did it the old fashioned way- the way I saw my mother and grannies do it while I was growing up. I could have gotten it done quicker with my Bamix food processor attachment, but since I was not only cooking comfort foods but also cooking for comfort, I wanted to have an authentic experience. So how did they do it? Well as you can imagine, they did these puddings in huge batches and no one would be able to stand up grating for such long periods, so they would sit with a huge kitchen towel in their laps and grate potatoes, yams and taro (coco) in huge aluminium pans we called “Pudding Pans”- yes we are very literal that way. I did however use my much more updated, sharper and ergonomic Microplane Box Grater.
The grated mixture of sweet potatoes, yam and taro (coco). Yours will look different depending on the kind of sweet potatoes and yams you use. The taro (coco) grates white.
Add raisins and sugar and combine
Grate nutmeg on a Spice Grater or Nutmeg Grater. We used our Microplane Spice Grater.
Add coconut milk used a rich, creamy coconut milk that we made from scratch. We have a tutorial here. The canned stuff will not do.
This is how rich ours is.. made from scratch with lots of love 🙂
After adding add the 3 1/2 cups of coconut milk, add vanilla extract. Add 1 more tsp more if yours is not real extract, and just “vanilla essence.” You may also add a pinch of salt here.
Add almond extract. Use the same amount even if you are using almond “essence” instead because this is strong stuff.
Rub a silicone brush in some room temp butter
Then greese your pan. I would suggest a 9inch deep pan. This Ikea bowl was too shallow for the recipe. It bakes best in an aluminium pan in the oven.
Be sure to use a deeper baking pan than this. We thought the glass would provide greater illustration for you but be warned that you will have excess batter (and not enough to fit another baking dish) if you use such a shallow one. Fill pan with batter and place in preheated oven at 185˚C or 350˚F. Bake for 1 hour or until the top becomes solid.
When top is solid, remove from oven, leaving oven on and grab a fork and scrape up the top of the pudding (about 1/2 inch). Mix the topping ingredients together in a bowl and pour over pudding mushing it up with the fork. It will look ‘liquidy.’ Bake for another 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. We like a crusty top so we turn on the broiler.
This is what it looks like coming out of the oven. Some persons like a softer top. We like it this way… and it is more reminiscent of the hell at top and hell at bottom sentiment.
CHEF”S NOTE: This photo shows Kari’s food styling for her article. The pudding is not traditionally served this way, though it looks beautiful. Here she styled it with some custard, which went very well with it. Great plating hon!