Ember-Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Coconut Caramel

Pulled from the coals, these super-tender, puddinglike charred sweet potatoes from chef Sheldon Simeon make an unforgettable side dish thanks to the rich and creamy ginger-spiked coconut caramel. With plenty of fresh ginger and a rich coconut flavor, the sauce isn’t too sweet, but just right. (Try the leftover caramel spooned over a biscuit, or stir it into coffee.) Try the sweet potatoes with Simeon’s summer luau recipes, like Huli Huli Chicken Wings or Pulehu Steak Tip Skewers with Maui Onion Finadene Sauce.

Ember Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Coconut Caramel
Photo: Victor Protasio
Active Time:
40 mins
Total Time:
2 hrs


  • 2 (13.5-ounce) cans coconut milk, well-shaken and stirred, divided

  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar

  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1/2 cup finely chopped peeled fresh ginger (from 1 [4-inch] piece)

  • 4 large (15-ounce) sweet potatoes

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter (3 ounce), at room temperature


  1. Stir together 1 can coconut milk, coconut sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high; immediately reduce heat to medium-low to maintain a light simmer. Simmer, stirring occasionally, 30 minutes. During the last 5 to 8 minutes of cooking time, begin stirring often, scraping bottom of pan to incorporate the darker caramel bits into sauce. Once sauce has turned a dark amber and has thickened to coat the back of a spoon, remove from heat. Stir in coconut oil and vanilla.

  2. Stir together remaining can coconut milk and ginger in a separate medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high. Remove from heat, and let stand 30 minutes. Pour through a fine wire-mesh strainer into a bowl, and discard solids. Stir into coconut-caramel mixture.

  3. Wrap each sweet potato in heavy-duty aluminum foil. Place sweet potatoes on bottom grate of grill.

  4. Light 1 charcoal chimney starter filled with briquettes. When briquettes are covered with gray ash, pour coals over sweet potatoes. Roast sweet potatoes, rotating occasionally, until completely tender, 40 minutes to 1 hour. Remove potatoes from coals, and let cool 10 to 15 minutes. Remove foil, and cut potatoes in half. Top evenly with butter and desired amount of coconut-caramel mixture.

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