This is a recent invention of mine; I was asked by Gourmet Magazine to come up with a dish that represents the Holidays, so instead of doing Pumpkin Pies and Turkeys I tried to create something different but with a traditional twist. Sweet Potatoes/Yams Some people think they're the same thing. Even producers stencil both names on the same box, since the U.S. Department of Agriculture requires that the label "yam" always be accompanied with the words "sweet potato" when referring to a sweet potato. No wonder the poor consumer is confused. Hasn't anyone told the USDA that these are separate vegetables that are not in the least related? Why should "yam" be on a sweet potato box in the first place? Which leads us to that old joke: What's the difference between a sweet potato and a yam? About $2 a pound. Sweet potatoes, indigenous to Central America, are a totally different plant family from yams. In fact, they are a member of the genus that contains morning glories, and when the plant is in flower, the flowers look like morning glories. They are only distantly related to the potato, which is indigenous to Peru. There are seven varieties of sweet potato. The moist, sweet flesh can be white, yellow, orange or purple. The smooth, thin skin can be orange-brown, red, purple or white. Sweet potatoes are blocky, with tapered ends. Authentic yams are white-fleshed, starchy tubers that come from Africa. They have rough, scaly skin and are long and cylindrical - some with a split bottom creating "toes." Their flesh is dry and starchy. They grow long - at the extreme, up to seven feet in length - and are cut and sold in sections. SWEET POTATO-VANILLA & MASCARPONE CHEESECAKE "BON-BON" Covered in Chocolate with Candid Pecans (Yields 12) SWEET POTATOES INGREDIENTS 4 Sweet Potatoes {Baked and Skinned} 8oz Cream Cheese 4oz Molasses 1 Cup Brown Sugar 1 tsp Nutmeg 1 tsp Cinnamon 7 Gelatin Sheets METHOD Soak the Gelatin in a little warm water and then bring to a boil in a saucepan. In a mixer blend all ingredients together until smooth. Add the gelatin and continue to mix to incorporate. VANILLA MASCARPONE INGREDIENTS 1 Vanilla bean {Split in half, seeds scraped out} 1 tsp Nutmeg 1 tsp Cinnamon 8oz Mascarpone Qt Heavy Cream 7 Gelatin Sheets METHOD Soak the Gelatin in a little warm water and then bring to a boil in a saucepan. In a mixer Whip heavy cream and vanilla beans to soft peak then set aside. Whip Mascarpone with the other ingredients then fold in the whipped cream and then add the bloomed gelatin. Candied Pecan Crust INGREDIENTS 2 Cups Whole Pecans 1 tsp Honey Tbsp Egg White 1 tsp Salt 1 Tbsp Brown Sugar METHOD Toss all ingredients together and lay flat on a baking sheet. Bake at 325 for 6 minutes. Leave to cool and then crush them to make our base. Ganache INGREDIENTS 9 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped 1 cup heavy cream METHOD Place the chocolate into a medium bowl. Heat the cream in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Bring just to a boil. When the cream has come to a boil, pour over the chopped chocolate, and whisk until smooth. Allow the ganache to cool slightly before pouring over a cake. Start at the center of the cake and work outward. To Assemble Place the Sweet Potato Mixture and Mascarpone mixture in two pastry bags. Using a 4oz cylindrical mold, pipe a inch layer of Sweet Potato on the bottom. Add a inch layer of Mascarpone mixture and then "sandwich" it with another layer of the Sweet Potato. Finish the layers with a Sprinkle of the Pecan crust and set aside in a cooler to set for at least 2 hours. On a baking sheet with a rack turn the molds upside down so the Pecan crust is on the bottom and gently remove the mold. With a 2oz ladle pour over the warm Ganache and return to the refrigerator to harden. Garnish with melted White Chocolate in a pastry bag with a small pastry tip. AND FINALLY ... According to the BBC website, "cocaine users are getting younger." I have always avoided illegal narcotics, but now I've found out that they actually reverse the ageing process I think I'm going to give them a bash.