Sweet Potato Recipes at the NC State Fair

On the second day of the NC State Fair ( October 14, 2022) the focus on the GotToBeNC cooking stage was on NC Sweet Potato Recipes. Today’s post features recipes from the first two demos of the day. Nothing like biscuits and ice cream to kick off a delicious series of recipe posts.

Fresh Baked Sweet Potato Biscuits

Stayed tuned for more, as every other day this month, leading right up to the Thanksgiving Holiday, I’ll be posting about recipes we shared and photos we took on the cooking stages at both the NC Mountain State Fair in Asheville in September and the NC State Fair in Raleigh in October. Eventually all of these recipes will be linked together to make them an easy find.

Case in point. If you liked the seasonal sweets from the first post about the Mountain State fair cooking stage published in September, then you will love all the sweet and a bit of savory I’m sharing today – all of it made with NC SweetPotatoes. See what I did there?

The “Did You Know” on NC’s Native Spud

  • While sweet potatoes are native to Central and South America, did you know that North Carolina is the largest producer of sweet potatoes in the United States, growing over 50% of our nation’s sweet potato harvest.
  • As a result the Sweetpotato is NC’s official state vegetable – did you know we even had a state veggie?
  • When we think of sweet potatoes most of us think of the popular large orange Covington variety; but, did you know that there are actually hundreds of different varieties with white, purple, peach and copper colored flesh.
  • Did you know, that “sweetpotato” is just one word? In 2019, the North Carolina SweetPotato Commission ,with the help of the state general assembly, officially changed the traditional spelling of “sweet potato” to “sweetpotato,” to help make it its own and distinguish it from all the varieties of white potatoes.  
  • In fact, SweetPotatoes are not potatoes at all – nor are they yams. Did you know that sweet potatoes are root vegetables, while potatoes are tubers? Yams, which come to this country from Africa, are a totally different vegetable. Considerably larger than sweet potatoes, yams are equally delicious, but are starchier with a white or purple flesh and much like the root vegetable yuca, are not as sweet as sweet potatoes.
  • If you are making a sweet potato puree for a recipe, chefs agree that you’ll do better to steam, bake or even microwave the potatoes before mashing. If you boil the sweet potatoes, you’ll compromise the flavor and your final dish won’t be as sweetpotato-y.

Heidi’s Sweet Potato Toasties

One of my favorite Sweet Potato Recipes is for a fun little appetizer I call Sweet Potato Toasties.

These Sweet Potato Toasties ( from a recent catering job) are topped with a honey-laced Uno Alla Volta Ricotta ( available at the Matthews Community Farmers Market and the Charlotte Regional Farmers Market on Saturday mornings and at cheese shops in the Charlotte NC area), dried cranberries, nuts and a bit of thin-sliced country ham

I didn’t make these this year at either of the State Fair cooking stages I hosted, but I talked about the recipe at both events. And so, As promised, you’ll find the recipe here, in this “how to” blog post and TV video segment I did for the Nc SweetPotato Commission, a couple years back.

Now, onto the Sweet Potato Recipes from the cooking stage at the NC State Fair.

Chefs Winde Jackson from Winde Jackson Cakes and Tie Whitaker of Buttermilk Boutique both put their own spin on these sweet potato recipes to share with the crowd of NC State fairgoers on Oct 14, 2022.

In a post later this week, you’ll also get a savory take on cooking with SweetPotatoes from Chef Chad Blackwelder of the NC Department of Agriculture … stay tuned. Like the sweet potato recipes today, his Sweet Potato Risotto with Pork Sausage Ragout is a keeper.

First up, today, Sweet Potato Biscuits from Chef Winde Jackson of Winde Jackson Cakes in Rocky Mount NC. Winde got the sweet potatoes she used in her recipe from Spring Acres Farm in Spring Hope, NC. On the cooking stage we topped her lighter than air biscuits with a trio of toppings and paired them with an award-winning NC wine.

Tie Whitaker of Buttermilk Boutique in Clayton NC and the 2021 NCRLA Chef Showdown Pastry Chef of the Year, came onstage next and shared a little something for our collective sweet tooth in the guise of SweetPotato Ice Cream in Pecan Waffle Cones with a Salted Honey Caramel Drizzle, my oh my!

Its all NC SweetPotato smiles from the GotToBeNC cooking stage at the NC State Fair, Oct 2022. From left, ( and as it turns out in order of height) Chef Chad Blackwelder, NC Department of Agriculture; Coco Daughtry, communications specialist with NC Sweet Potatoes; Chef Tie Whitaker with Buttermilk Boutique; Chef Winde Jackson with Winde Jackson Cakes; and yours truly, Food and Travel Writer, Heidi Billotto, HeidiBillottoFood.com and host of the GotToBeNC cooking stage.

Biscuits Aren’t Just for Breakfast

In the day-to-day in her catering business, Winde serves these delicious biscuits with country ham and apple butter as appetizers and amuse to much deserved accolades. So, we did the same for our chefs’ table guests, pairing Winde’s sweet potato biscuits with a quick and easy apple butter I made with NC apples and Goodnight Brother’s Thin Sliced Country Ham.

We also serve these fluffy biscuits with a side of local creamery butter topped with NC Sorghum Syrup molasses, oh my!

And finally, looking towards our Thanksgiving tables, we topped Winde’s biscuits with local sausage and my homemade savory spin on traditional cranberry sauce.

I worked from the recipe on the back of the bag of cranberries and then kept it local by substituting in Mighty Muscadine Grape Juice from Advance NC in place of the water. Then, to give it more depth of flavor, I added in a tablespoon or two of Miso Master Miso white miso from Rutherfordton, NC and in place of half of the sugar called for in the recipe I opted for Glean Beet Goodness, a local beet powder produced in Snow Hill, NC in the mix. Finally, I added a cup of muscadine grapes, cut in half, seeds removed. Cook the sauce till the muscadines soften a bit, and then enjoy hot, warm or cold.

The cranberry sauce served as a condiment for Holiday Sausage Slider made with Winde’s SweetPotato Biscuits and MasterBlend Family Farms breakfast sausage. You can find my Sausage Slider recipe here – about halfway down the post.

Farmer Ron Simmons from Masterblend provided all of the NC pork we used on the cooking stage this year. The farm is in Kenansville, NC and you can order MasterBlend’s delicious pasture raised pork for home delivery, here.

Pairing SweetPotato Biscuits with NC Wines

Throughout the ten-day stretch of the NC State Fair, we were fortunate to work with Brianna Burns from NC Wine, to help us pair NC award-winning wines with food. The spotlight was on the 2022 Double Gold and Gold Medal winners of the annual NC Wine Competition. We paired Winde’s trio of sweet and savory biscuits with a delightful NC Wildflower Honey Mead, which not only one the Double Gold in its category, but also placed as Best of Show for the 2022 competition. Now, that is something to say “Cheers!” about. In our glasses for this cooking demo: Honeygirl Meadery – Strawberry/Cranberry 2021 – NC Wildflower Honey Mead from Durham NC. Delicious.

Chef Winde Jackson with her infamous Country Ham and Apple Butter Sweet Potato Biscuits

Winde Jackson’s Sweet Potato Biscuits

1 cup chilled sweet potato puree – Make this by mashing 1-2 baked sweet potatoes, skins removed, then chill in the refrigerator before moving ahead with the recipe.

3/4 cup Local Whole Milk buttermilk 

2 1/2 cups All Purpose flour

3 Tbsp. brown sugar

1 Tbsp, sugar

2 1/2 tsp baking powder 

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

1 stick (4 oz) cold butter

1/2 tsp cinnamon 

Melted butter for brushing biscuits out of oven

Combine the sweet potato puree with the flour, sugars, baking powder and baking soda and salt, blending well. Add the buttermilk and stir to combine. Then break the butter into small bits, either by hand or with a grater and gently work the butter into the biscuit dough. Don’t overwork it.

Once combined, pop the dough into the refrigerator for 15-20 minutes.

Pat the chilled dough out on your work surface to about 1/2-inch thickness and cut with a round biscuit cutter.

Roll or pat out your biscuit dough to approx 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch thick

Pro Tips:
When you are cutting your biscuits, do not twist the cutter. Simply cut down into the dough and then pull the cutter straight up. This will give you a taller lighter fluffier biscuit. If you twist the cutter, your biscuits won’t rise as high.
If you have hot spots in your oven, Chef Winde suggests using two baking sheets stacked one on top of the other instead of just one, This will offer a more even distribution of heat and you won’t run the risk of burning the bottom of your biscuits.

Chef Winde Jackson

Place the cut biscuits onto a baking sheet (or two stacked pans) and bake in a preheated 375 degree oven ( or a 350 degree convection oven) for 18-20 mins or until golden brown.

These GotTobeNc Cooking Stage Chef’s Table guests were all smiles at the sight of Winde Jackson’s SweetPotato Biscuits

Brush the hot biscuits with melted butter as soon as they come out of the oven, and then enjoy!

Next, Sweet Potato Recipes go from Savory to Sweet

Pastry Chef Tie Whitaker, made this group of NC State Fair Chef Table guests on the GotToBeNc cooking stage very happy with her Sweet Potato Ice Cream served in waffle cones with a caramel drizzle. Yes please!

Tie Whitaker’s Sweet Potato Ice Cream

Makes 2 qts. 

4 Small NC SweetPotatoes

2 cup local whole Milk ( Tie uses milk from Ran Lew Dairy in Snow Camp, NC)

2 cup local Heavy Cream ( also from Ran Lew Dairy)

1 1/2 cups Light Brown Sugar ( see our Pro Tip on “How To Make Your Own” Below)

8 NC Egg yolks

2 tsp vanilla extract

¼ tsp fresh nutmeg

1 cup dry milk powder

Here’s what to do:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Wash sweet potatoes and pierce flesh with a fork, rotating until you’ve pierced the entire potato. Roast potatoes for 60 minutes or until tender. Set aside until cool enough to handle. Puree sweet potatoes until smooth and then set aside. 

Roasting SweetPotatoes with the skins on and then peeling to puree or mash yields the very best flavors for sweet and savory Sweet Potato Recipes

Heat milk, heavy cream, and half of light brown sugar in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat until hot, but not boiling. 

While milk mixture is heating, combine yolks and remaining light brown sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whip until light and fluffy, approximately 2-3 minutes. 

Slowly add hot milk into egg mixture, this will allow yolks to come up to temperature without curdling them. 

Return mixture to the saucepan and cook ice cream base to 165 degrees to ensure eggs are cooked. 

Remove from heat and transfer mixture to bowl. Add sweet potato puree, vanilla extract, fresh nutmeg, and dry milk powder. Mix until well combined. 

Refrigerate overnight. Follow ice cream machine instructions to churn ice cream. Enjoy!

Pastry Chef Tie Whitaker says, “Serve your SweetPotato Ice cream in a homemade pecan waffle cone topped with a drizzle of Salted Honey Caramel Sauce”

What if you don’t have Brown Sugar on hand.

This was the case when Tie was cooking on the stage. Right in the middle of it all, we both realized we didn’t have the brown sugar she needed for her sweet potato recipes. I was delighted to use the opportunity to share this pro tip on how I make brown sugar from scratch.

Pro Tip – How to make homemade Brown Sugar
Use 1 cup of organic cane sugar and 1-2 Tablespoons of NC Sorghum Syrup Molasses. Simply blend the two together until the sugar absorbs the syrup and Viola! you have brown sugar.
The beauty here is you can make as much as you need when you need it. So no old packages or boxes of brown sugar caking up in your pantry.
Sorghum Syrup is lighter yet has a deeper flavor than that of blackstrap molasses and for me it tastes so much better. It’s often available at Farmers Markets and farm stores around North Carolina or a roadside stands in the North Carolina mountains. When you find it, buy several jars so you will always have it on hand.

Heidi Billotto, HeidiBillottoFood.com

Salted Honey Caramel Sauce

1 cup NC honey ( For this recipe, Tie used the award-winning Turmeric Honey laced with Ceylon Cinnamon and cloves from The Turmeric Zone in Morrisville, NC)

1/2 cup light brown sugar
4 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 cup Heavy Cream
1 tsp sea salt

Combine honey and brown sugar in a small saucepan over medium high heat. Cook until mixture thickens and turns a dark amber color, 8-10 minutes.

Remove from heat and add butter. Whisk until incorporated.

Add heavy cream, and whisk until well combined. Add sea salt.

Let cool before adding to an airtight container.

Pecan Waffle Cones

Makes about 10 cones
3⁄4 cup All-purpose flour
1⁄2 tsp Kosher salt
3⁄4 cup plus 2 Tbsp confectioner’s sugar
3 egg whites
5 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1⁄4 cup whole milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1⁄2 cup chopped NC pecan pieces

How to Make Your Own Waffle Cones

Heat waffle maker to desired temperature. Note that a waffle cone waffle iron is different than a regular waffle iron.

In a small bowl whisk together flour, salt, and 3⁄4 c confectioner’s sugar. Set aside

Combine egg whites and remaining 2 Tbsp of confectioner’s sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whip whites until stiff, fluffy peaks form.

Pro tip: If you don’t have a hand or stand mixer, you can whip your egg whites to stiff peaks in a food processor.
Make sure the bowl & the blade are clean and dry. Use the steel blade and add the room temperature egg whites to the bowl. Add in a tsp of white wine or apple cider vinegar ( trust me here) Turn the machine on and let the magic happen. once the egg white form stiff peaks, gently spoon them out into a mixing bowl and fold in the 2 Tbsp of confectioner’s sugar . Proceed with recipe.

Heidi Billotto, HeidiBillottoFood

Fold flour mixture into egg whites. Then add butter, milk and vanilla extract. Whisk until combined. Add pecans. Cook on waffle iron as directed.

Here’s How Assemble & Serve your Sweet Potato Ice Cream Waffle Cones

As soon as the thin waffle comes off of the waffle iron, roll in into a cone shape. Many waffle cone makers come with a cone you can use for shaping. Tie reminded us that you must hold each waffle in place around the cone for it to take and hold its shape. Once its cooled, you can start on the next one, it will take one or two for you to get your timing down.

Once the cones are made you are good to go. Scoop the Sweet Potato Ice cream into each cone and then drizzle with the salted honey caramel sauce. If you’d like a little extra crunch, sprinkle some additional toasted NC pecans on top and enjoy! If you’d like to go heavy on the caramel, Tie suggests serving your cones in a bowl or on a plate.

More on how you can keep on cooking with NC SweetPotatoes

Want more NC Sweet Potato Recipes? You are invited to join the NC Sweet Potato Commission as they travel to Washington, NC on November 15 to cook with Chef Jamie Davis at The Hackney Restaurant & Distillery.

Jamie is an amazing chef and in a few days I’ll be sharing his recipes from the NC State fair cooking stage.

But, in the meantime, you can buy a ticket now, to cook with Jamie yourself, virtually from your home kitchen. It all takes place on November 15 starting at 6:30 pm.

The dinner and cooking event is a part of a series of virtual events to benefit Ripe Revival and their very cool mobile market – taking local product, produce and proteins to food desserts around the state.

Your ticket purchase includes a link to the live virtual event and a meal kit of locally sourced ingredients delivered to your home to cook along with Jamie.

Many of the ingredients sourced for this dinner are those you have read about on these pages including NC Sweet Potatoes, Tidewater Grain Company Carolina Gold Rice and NC Beef Sirloin steaks from several different NC beef farmers.

This event is the second episode of the Reviving The Supper Club Chef Series fundraiser to benefit the Ripe For Revival 501(c)3 Mobile Market Program.

On the menu this evening:

  • Local Angus Sirloin
  • White Sweetpotato Bisque – Jamie is making this with the delicious Bonito variety of sweetpotato, perfect for soups and sauces.
  • Tidewater Grain Company’s Heirloom Grain, Carolina Gold Rice
  • Plus, you’ll get a prepacked “Field OF Dreams” Signature Cocktail from The Hackney.

Get your tickets and more info by using the QR code above, or visit https://www.riperevivalmarket.com/pages/chef-series-landing-page #TellThemHeidiSentYou

One comment

  1. So impressed Heidi by your 10 day coverage at the NC State Fair! You did a remarkable job with the coverage and highlighting the many talented chefs and cooks and tasting the food. It was a joy to watch your videos and now to read this outstanding blog! Well done and so proud of you Heidi!

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