Vardaman Swirl Cheesecake

Sweet potato puree blended with a fool-proof New York-style cheesecake; fun to make, sumptuous results. The cheesecake filling is 16 oz. cream cheese, 2/3 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla and two large eggs. The sweet potato filling is two cups of “candied” sweet potatoes pureed and mixed with 1/2 cup whole cream, 1/2 cup sugar, two eggs and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. The crust is a box of graham cracker crumbs–adding crushed pecans is a nice touch–mixed with a stick and a half of melted butter, a cup of brown sugar, packed into an 8″ spring-form pan and refrigerated until firm. Drop both filling mixtures alternately around the crust, then take a spoon and swirl it around a little bit. Be artistic; contemplate the Pre-Raphaelites. Bake at 350 for about 45 minutes, lower heat and cool for an hour. Refrigerate before slicing.

Sweet Potato Pudding

Dishes similar to this are made throughout the West Indies as well as Bermuda, where it’s traditionally served on Guy Fawkes Night (Nov. 5) by evil heathen royalists as well as those noble democratic souls who simply like to set a good table. The texture is fudge-like, very dense and intensely flavorful. The toasted coconut flakes seen here as a topping can be added to the pudding mix as well, but do not use raw grated coconut or it will get gummy.

Mix 1 1/2 pounds cooked pureed sweet potato with 2 cups cream of coconut, 1 stick melted butter, juice of 1 lime and 1 cup brown sugar until smooth. Blend in by spoonfuls 1 cup flour; add 1 cup raisins (optional), a tablespoon of vanilla and a teaspoon each ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg spice. Pour batter into a well-oiled 8-inch cake pan and bake at 350 for about an hour until firm then cool.   Best to serve chilled; this recipe easily provides a dozen servings.