So, In full disclosure, the idea for my “Black Forest Yams” came from one of my most prized reference and recipe books. More on that below.
I’m not a sucker for a big fancy coffee table cookbook that has artistically shot photos and a few lines worth of ingredients for the recipe. With that said hopefully, as I write this recipe out, my cookbook will be none of that. Well… I actually would not mind the artistically shot photographs.
No, I prefer my cookbooks have substance. Not just for their recipe content, but for stories and any historical provenance that may be tied into those recipes. I want to know where the recipe came from (geographically and authorship), the science behind it, and it’s lineage. Was the recipe an offshoot of something else, you see?
Which brings me to this little gem, My Black Forest Yams.
The book this idea came from is called Bull Cook and Authentic Historical Recipes and Practices (Hertner & Hertner Hertner’s Inc. 1969) and the original recipe was titled “Titty Sauce Yams”. Yeah, no, I’m not kidding.
According to the book, Titty Sauce Yams came about originally when a few African American slaves on southern plantations were asked to be nursemaids to their white owner’s children. Sometimes the child would suckle and sometimes the child would not. To give the babe a little initiative, the nursemaid would coat her areola in a mixture of water and honey. The baby took to it like a … well, a kid to candy.
As time went on and households grew, the idea for the honey and water mixture naturally found its way to the kitchen in the “Big House”. Canary Richardson was one such cook at a plantation in Northeastern Georgia and came up with this original recipe: I skip the initial cooking of boiling and roasting the yams to get to sauce.
“ You take one-half cup of water and put in a pot and heat until good and warm. Add one-fourth cup of honey to the water and stir in until well dissolved. Remove from the heat. Add one teaspoon of Almond Flavoring and one teaspoon of Cherry Flavoring. Stir in and quickly pour over the bite size portions of yams. Put small pieces of butter over the yams. “ Canary says in the book.
Sounds good, Canary
Fast forward to holiday season 2016 and I have taken Canary’s idea and made it my own. No Titty Sauce Yams at this Thanksgiving table, but rather a play on her idea, a little grab from Butterscotch Yams from my mother’s recipe book, and actual homemade Luxardo cocktail cherries and toasted slivered almonds to knock it out of the park. Bring on the holidays!
Don't forget to stop by the "SHOP" section of this website to purchase any In The Kitchen With Scotty handcrafted sauces and spice blends that you may need for this recipe. Happy Cooking, and thank-you for supporting my small business! -Scotty
LUXARDO CHERRIES (Prepare in advance for best flavor)
1 pound fresh cherries (if available) or fresh frozen cherries, stemmed and pitted
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup water
1 cup Luxardo liqueur
- If fortunate enough to find beautiful fresh West Coast cherries in your local market mid-November through on to December, count your blessings; Wash, Stem, and Pit. If not, and for our purposes with the yams, fresh frozen, good quality cherries, are perfectly acceptable and work great. I think if I were actually using the Luxardo cherries for cocktails, I would probably wait until early spring to make these. Since we are using them in the cooking capacity, frozen is great! Thaw, Rinse, and set aside for the frozen.
- In a sauce pot add your sugar, scraped vanilla bean “caviar”, cinnamon, nutmeg, lemon juice, and water. Bring to a boil then down to a simmer. Simmer slowly covered with a lid for five minutes. If using fresh cherries, add the cherries and cook an additional five minutes. For frozen, I recommend adding the cherries and remove the pot from the heat. Let the cherries soften a bit and flavors meld and cool completely.
- Add the Luxardo liqueur after the cherries and syrup have cooled completely. Store the cherries in an airtight container, and store in the fridge at least overnight. Use when ready.
1 1/2 to 2 pounds fresh small yams (sweet potatoes will work in a pinch)
1/3 cup water
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons creamed/spun honey
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
3 tablespoons butter
Luxardo cherries to taste
1/4 cup blanched slivered almonds
Optional: Crystallized Ginger for garnish
- Begin by washing the yams, trimming off any dark spots and roots, and placing them unpeeled in a pot of salted water. Canary says to “leave the jackets on”, so do not peel the yams. Cooking peeled yams is a no-go for this recipe. Boil low for approximately 15 minutes… checking for fork tender after 10. When the yams are fork tender, remove the pot from the heat and drain.
- Tumble out the boiled yams onto a cookie sheet and place in a 375-degree oven for another 15 minutes or until fully roasted and soft. Let cook until they can be easily handled. Gently pull aways the yam "jackets" and expose the whole roasted yam. Lay the yams into a baking dish in a single layer.
- While the yams are cooking make your sauce by adding the brown sugar, water, honey, and salt into a sauce pot. Bring to a boil then down to a simmer. Simmer until syrupy and reduced. Turn off the heat and stir in the almond extract and butter.
- Top the yams with as many Luxardo cherries as you can stand, and add the slivered almonds. The almonds will toast while the whole dish is back into the oven.
- Add the dish to the same 375-degree oven and heat/toast for 15 minutes. Baste the yams halfway through cooking time.
- Before serving baste once more to make those beautiful fragrant yams shine. Garnish with a few pieces of crystallized ginger for added flavor, then raise your "cup of plenty" to Canary Richardson and her original Titty Sauce Yams. Enjoy!