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Ember-Roasted Sweet Potatoes With Maple-Ancho Butter

Ember-Roasted Sweet Potatoes With Maple-Ancho Butter 4.000

Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post

Smoke Signals Sep 17, 2014

Roasting the sweet potato directly in a smoldering fire gives it a smoky flavor and makes its orange flesh warm and soft inside. The maple syrup in the butter adds an autumnal touch, while the ancho powder provides a bit of zing -- the culinary equivalent of the crispness in the air.

Lump hardwood coals work better than briquettes for this recipe because they burn hotter. Be sure you use long-handled tongs. (Sorry, this method is for charcoal or wood grilling only.)

Make Ahead: The butter mixture can be prepared and refrigerated in an airtight container up to 3 days in advance.


When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 4 servings

  • 4 medium sweet potatoes (about 2 pounds total), scrubbed well
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ancho chile powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt


Prepare the grill for direct heat. Light the charcoal or wood briquettes; when the briquettes are ashen, distribute them evenly over the cooking area. The heat should be medium-hot (350 degrees); you should be able to hold your hand about 6 inches above the coals for about 5 seconds. Have ready a spray water bottle for taming any flames.

Meanwhile, poke each sweet potato a few times with a fork, then wrap each one tightly in aluminum foil. Whisk together the butter, maple syrup, cinnamon, ancho chili powder and sea salt in a small bowl until creamy and well combined.

Place the wrapped sweet potatoes directly onto the coals. Cook, uncovered, for 40 minutes to an hour, using the tongs to turn the sweet potatoes about every 10 minutes. They are done when you can slide a knife into the middle without resistance; start checking for doneness at 30 minutes. Transfer to a platter to cool for about 5 minutes, then discard the foil, cut each one in half horizontally, slather each half with the maple-ancho butter, and serve.

Recipe Source

From Smoke Signals columnist Jim Shahin.

Tested by Andrew Sikkenga.

Email questions to the Food Section.

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Nutritional Facts

Calories per serving (using half the maple-ancho butter): 220

% Daily Values*

Total Fat: 12g 18%

Saturated Fat: 7g 35%

Cholesterol: 30mg 10%

Sodium: 115mg 5%

Total Carbohydrates: 29g 10%

Dietary Fiber: 4g 16%

Sugar: 10g

Protein: 2g

*Percent Daily Value based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Total Fat: Less than 65g

Saturated Fat: Less than 20g

Cholesterol: Less than 300mg

Sodium: Less than 2,400mg

Total Carbohydrates: 300g

Dietary Fiber: 25g

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