This delicious casserole has been a holiday favorite of my family for many years. The Daily Sentinel in Nacogdoches, Texas published the sweet potato/date recipe invented by one of its readers, Lisa Lulamandier. I added the nut topping.
Preheat oven to at 350°.
Drain the sweet potatoes and place them in a microwave-safe bowl. Add 6 tablespoons butter. Heat the sweet potatoes in a microwave until the potatoes are warm and the butter is melted. Mash the warm potatoes with a potato masher or large fork. Add the cream, cinnamon and salt. Stir to combine. Add the chopped dates. Mix well and turn into a buttered two-quart casserole.
Place sugar, honey, molasses and 2 tablespoons butter in a microwave-safe mixing bowl. Microwave until butter is melted, and then stir to combine. Add the nuts to the glaze and mix to coat. Spread on top of the sweet potatoes and press down.
Bake for 30 minutes or until the nuts are browned.
Do not use pre-mashed sweet potatoes. Mash the potatoes yourself, and leave some lumps for texture. Also, use canned sweet potatoes, not fresh. The canned potatoes taste better in this recipe.
Do not use pre-chopped dates. Use pitted dates (a bit more than 8-oz bag), and chop by hand. Pre-chopped dates are too hard.
Walnuts usually have a bitter dust on them that will spoil the flavor of the glaze. Rinse in a colander, get off most of the water with a clean kitchen towel and then toast for a few minutes at 250° to dry the nuts.
You can use practically any combination of sweet syrup and sugar in the glaze. A little blackstrap molasses gives the topping an interesting flavor.