4 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup half-and-half or light cream
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon finely shredded orange peel
2 tablespoons orange juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup pecan pieces, toasted
Allow eggs to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Grease a 2-quart square baking dish; set aside. In a Dutch oven cook sweet potatoes, covered, in enough boiling salted water to cover for 25 to 30 minutes or until tender; drain. Return potatoes to the pan.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly mash potatoes with a potato masher. Stir in brown sugar, half-and-half, melted butter, orange peel, orange juice, and salt. Cool for 5 minutes. In a small bowl lightly beat the egg yolks with a fork. Stir the egg yolks into the sweet potato mixture. Transfer sweet potato mixture to the prepared baking dish.
Bake, uncovered, for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, for meringue, in a large mixing bowl combine egg whites, vanilla, and cream of tartar. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed about 1 minute or until soft peaks form (tips curl). Gradually add the granulated sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating on high speed about 4 minutes more or until mixture forms stiff, glossy peaks and sugar dissolves.
Sprinkle pecans evenly over hot potatoes. Immediately spread or pipe meringue over top, carefully sealing to edge. Bake for 15 minutes or until browned and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the meringue reads 160 degrees F.
Marshmallow-Topped Sweet Potato CasserolePrepare as directed, except save egg whites for another use and omit vanilla, cream of tartar, and granulated sugar. Bake the potato mixture as directed for 15 minutes in Step 3. Using one 13-ounce jar marshmallow creme, spoon small spoonfuls onto potato mixture, spreading evenly to cover surface. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes more or until marshmallow creme is puffed and light brown.
Make Ahead Tip
To Make Ahead:Prepare sweet potatoes as directed, except cover and chill egg whites. Do not preheat oven, but do cool sweet potatoes to room temperature after mashing. When cool, continue with Step 2. Cover tightly with foil; chill for up to 48 hours. To serve, let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Bake for 45 minutes; stir. Prepare meringue as directed in Step 3 (or spread with marshmallow creme). Bake as directed.
Per Serving: cal. (kcal) 338, Fat, total (g) 14, chol. (mg) 91, sat. fat (g) 5, carb. (g) 49, Monosaturated fat (g) 6, Polyunsaturated fat (g) 2, Trans fatty acid (g) 0, fiber (g) 5, sugar (g) 27, pro. (g) 6, vit. A (IU) 16057.12, vit. C (mg) 4.24, Thiamin (mg) 0.15, Riboflavin (mg) 0.2, Niacin (mg) 0.84, Pyridoxine (Vit. B6) (mg) 0.32, Folate (µg) 23.58, Cobalamin (Vit. B12) (µg) 0.23, sodium (mg) 262, Potassium (mg) 521, calcium (mg) 78, iron (mg) 1.42, Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet