I meet a lot of people who say they didn’t think they liked sweet potatoes—until they tried them prepared in a different way from just baked and topped with butter and brown sugar. I happen to love sweet potatoes any way they’re prepared, but this pudding is a good alternative for those who don’t care for the potato plain. This has lots of flavor and is a great side dish for Thanksgiving.
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Spray an 8-inch square baking dish with cooking spray.
On a foil-covered baking sheet, bake the sweet potatoes for 1 hour, or until they are soft. Remove and let cool. Reduce the heat of the oven to 325°F. When cool enough to handle, peel the potatoes, place the flesh in a large mixing bowl, add the butter, and mash until smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the cornmeal, sugar, milk, salt, and ½ teaspoon of the vanilla and beat until smooth. Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish. Arrange the pecan halves on top of the pudding and top with the brown sugar. Sprinkle the remaining ½ teaspoon vanilla by small droplets over the brown sugar. Bake for 45 minutes, or until the top is browned.
The top of this pudding should be browned, but watch to make sure you don’t burn the pecans.