These gluten-free, sherry-laced Sweet Potato Stuffed Orange Cups are topped with caramelized pears, pecans and cranberries! They are a festive, delicious side dish worthy of gracing holiday tables. And, you can make them ahead!
Sweet potato and orange is one of those complementary culinary combos that stand the test of time. The sweet citrus brightens sweet potatoes’ natural flavor. So if you’re looking for something other than the traditional, marshmallow-topped sweet potato casserole, these mounded orange cups are for you. Not only can you assemble them before serving, the individual steps can also be done in advance. To start, I like to simply bake the sweet potatoes until they’re really tender while I prep the oranges and topping ingredients. You can always peel, cube and boil the sweet potatoes if you prefer.
For the oranges, it’s best to use large navels for their size. Slice a sliver from the top and bottom to make a flat surface so they stay stable. Gently squeeze the removed pulp for some sweet, fresh orange juice. You’ll use some in the recipe but feel free to drink the rest. The whipped sweet potatoes are then heaped into the orange cups. They can be prepared the day before baking. Just cover loosely with plastic wrap and chill.
The pear, pecan, and cranberry topping has fresh ginger and a splash of balsamic to balance the fruits’ sweetness. It comes together in less than 10 minutes, and can also be prepared the day before.
When ready for lift off, just spoon the pear topping over the sweet potatoes and pop in the oven for 15-20 minutes to warm through. The potatoes will puff and brown slightly, and the pears and cranberries will soften while the pecans crisp for just the right crunch. Complementary flavors and textures come together as one in every single cup. Enjoy!
If you’re craving more delicious gluten-free, prep-ahead sides, check out our Balsamic Roasted Root Vegetables, Mushroom Stuffed Portobellos with Corn & Feta, and Sweet Potato Salad with Blood Orange Vinaigrette . Cheers!!
- 3 ½ lbs large sweet potatoes
- 3 tablespoons butter, room temperature
- ¼ cup orange juice
- 2 tablespoons cream sherry
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 egg
- 4 large oranges
- Salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 small firm but ripe pears, peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes
- ¾ cup pecans, coarsely chopped
- ¾ cup dried cranberries
- 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
- 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Pomegranate seeds for garnish (optional)
Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Pierce potatoes all over with a fork and place on baking sheet. Bake potatoes for about 1 - 1 ¼ hours until they’re tender and easily pierced with a fork.
While the sweet potatoes bake, cut a thin slice from the top and bottom of each orange to make a flat surface. Halve the oranges and scoop out the pulp. Squeeze enough of the pulp to get ¼ cup of orange juice. Reserve any remaining pulp for another use. Place orange cups on a parchment-lined, rimmed baking sheet.
When cool enough to handle, cut sweet potatoes in half and scoop pulp into a large bowl. With an electric mixer or whisk, beat in butter, orange juice, sherry, cinnamon, nutmeg and egg until well combined. Season with salt and pepper. Divide the sweet potato mixture evenly among the orange cups, mounding in the center. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and chill.)
Melt the butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the pears and sauté until tender and golden, about 5 minutes. Stir in the pecans, cranberries, brown sugar, and ginger. Cook for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and mix in balsamic vinegar and salt. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)
With the back of a spoon, put a slight dent into the top of the sweet potatoes. Spoon the topping over. Bake in a 375°F oven until heated through, 15-20 minutes. (Can be assembled 2 hours before baking; let sit at room temperature. Any remaining topping can be passed around separately. It’s also great on turkey, chicken and pork!)