Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Sweet Potato Waffles

Note: Modified from Alton Brown's recipe. I goofed up, but I think the failure was in my technique rather than the mechanics of the recipe. 

Sweet Potato Waffles

Cook time: 20 minutes for potato, about 5 minutes per waffle
Servings: 5- 8 

-1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed
-6 egg whites beaten to stiff peaks
-6 tbsp coconut flour
-1 cup heavy cream (or whole milk)
-1 tbsp baking powder
-1/2 tsp cinnamon 
-1/4 tsp nutmeg
-4 tbsp butter melted

1.) Set up a steam basket inside a pot and pour enough water in it to just come underneath the basket. Bring to a boil and then steam the cubed potato for 20 minutes or until fork tender. Drain out the pot and mash the potato.

2.) Integrate the butter and cream.

3.) Fold in the dry ingredients. 

4.) Fold in the egg whites in 2-3 batches. Doing it all at once could deflate the foam. Don't over mix at this point.

5.) Dish the batter into your heated waffle iron and cook for 5-10 minutes and then serve. 

This recipe didn't come out right for me, so I cannot say yet whether this is a good recipe or one inherently destined for failure. The waffles browned near burning and fell apart in the waffle maker, leaving a difficult to clean mess, and my attempted pancakes fell apart too and didn't cook all the way through. The coconut flour is certainly suspect since it has different properties than that of white flour, namely the lack of gluten, but I don't think that was what went wrong here. I probably goofed up in my technique and didn't perform some of the steps properly, particularly those of beating the egg whites and cooking the potato.

Several weeks ago the electric beater broke down after I tried using it one day, so I had nothing but my bare hands and a whisk to beat the whites. What labor! It took about fifteen minutes for me to get "dripping" peaks, and after that I gave up and thought it sufficient. I knew in advance that this would take a terribly long time, so I did it while the potato was steaming, very early on in the process. By the time I actually needed to utilize the foam it was already deflating and separating from the liquid. Lesson learned. 

As for the potato, I was downright foolish. I let it cook for the full twenty minutes, which made it come out mushy rather than firm and tender. I should have been more diligent in checking: I thought I would be fine since steam can only get as hot as the boiling point of water at any altitude, but I forgot to take into account the heat of the metal steamer basket itself.
My hypothesis is that the mushiness of the potato itself caused the failure, as the waffles themselves couldn't hold together and would maintain a mushy texture, signaling an over-retention of moisture. The next time I try this recipe I'll concentrate on fixing the above two points: I'll be more patient with the egg white beating, to reach stiff peaks, and will delay it until the last moment, and I'll reduce the steam temperature on the pot of cubed potato and check it more often. 

Regardless, even if this recipe does succeed I think it could still use some work. The taste of coconut flour can either be assertive or recessive depending on the context. In my Bacon Heart Explosion it wasn't noticeable in the least, but in these waffles (and pancakes) it dominates the sweet potato. Refrigerating the leftovers has done well to bring out the strange pumpkin pie notes of sweet potatoes, which is why I usually like my sweet potatoes cold, but the coconut flour is still too dominate. Even the cinnamon and nutmeg are nowhere to be found. It seems most likely, upon perfection, that I'll revisit this recipe with another type of flour, likely a nut flour. 

Whatever my failure, there's still edible results.

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