The strangest thing happened.

A few days ago, The.Boy. (who has been staying at my apartment since Sunday because getting back to Brooklyn from Manhattan right now requires either a very expensive cab ride, a very very long walk, or a very very very long bus ride on a very crowded bus) thanked me.

For what, you ask?  For letting him stay with me? For feeding him three AWESOME meals a day? For cuddling with him every night?

Um, no. To all of the above.

He thanked me…for letting him clean my kitchen floor and my recycling bin while I was at work.

I know, right?!?


He’s been cooped up in this apartment for so long that I’ve obviously somehow brainwashed/hypnotized/telepathically manipulated him without even realizing it.

To apologize/thank him…I made him dessert. Twice.

Once disguised as a Thanksgiving-esque veggie side dish and once as, well. An actual dessert.

That’s some serious positive reinforcement right there.


The hasselback sweet potato crumbles are reminiscent of everyone’s favorite ooey gooey marshmallow sweet potato bake…but better.

First of all…they’re single portion-sized.  And everyone knows that getting your OWN delectably delicious cinnamon sugar potato is way more awesome than having to scoop a portion out of a pan that you have to share with your weird aunts, uncles, and cousins.

Second of all…since the cinnamon sugar compound butter/spread is stuffed INTO the hasselback slices, there is literally cinnamon sugar buttery heaven in every crevice of these babies. With an oatmeal crumble on top.  Hellz yeah.

And then, to top it all off is the fact that I made these with Country Crock spread, which has all the delicious flavor of butter but without a single gram of transfat, no hydrogenated oils, 70% less saturated fat than butter, 30% fewer calories than butter, and no cholesterol (check out for more info!). I call that a win.

Plus did I mention that Country Crock has offered to giveaway a fabulous Thanksgiving kit that includes – Harvest Pumpkin Tiny Taper Holders, Italian Scalloped Bakers and a 13″ Wire Baker Rack. To enter the giveaway, check out all of the great Thanksgiving veggie recipes on the Country Crock site and let me know which one you’d most want to grace your holiday table.  The winner will be announced next Friday, November 9th!


And then…after I made dessert-for-dinner…I made actual dessert.

And really, I use that term loosely, because I’ve been sneaking pieces of this coconut semolina cake pretty much hourly.  So it’s also breakfast, lunch, dinner, and every snack in between. With a fabulous, dense texture from the semolina flour and coconut batter, and the insane amount of moistness from the scented sugar syrup soaking…it’s majorly amazing.

Also, just a side note before I let you all go off on your merry ways…in case you don’t remember after all of my incessant babble about it…the NYC Marathon is THIS SUNDAY. For real.  If you guys want to track me during the race and get text message updates to your phone about when I pass certain mile markers, you can go to this site to sign up.  My number is 39312, name – Joanne Bruno.

Also ALSO…I am participating in a blogger bake sale being held over at Veronica’s Cornucopia today (opens at 8AM CST) to help raise money so that Suzie, a fellow blogger, can have a surgery that she so desperately needs to live.  I have donated my pumpkin swirl brownies and I know there are lots of other amazing treats up for grabs, so definitely head on over and check it out!

Check out these other blogs to see how their coconut semolina cake turned out!
Brandy – Nutmeg Nanny
Amanda – Fake Ginger
Heather – Girlichef
Natasha – Five Star Foodie

Hasselback Sweet Potato Crumble
Serves 8, adapted from How Sweet Eats 


  • 4 large sweet potatoes
  • 1/2 cup Country Crock spread (or regular butter), divided, softened
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2/3 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt


  1. Preheat oven to 375. In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup of the Country Crock spread with 1 tbsp brown sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon and 1/4 tsp salt, combining well until thoroughly mixed.  Place the butter on a sheet of plastic wrap and shape into a small rectangle or square.  Place in the freezer for 30 minutes or until firm.
  2. Slice the sweet potatoes every 1/8th to 1/4-inch and only 3/4 of the way down the potato.  Remove the butter from the freezer and, slicing very thing pieces, insert a butter slice into every 3rd or 4th sweet potato slit. Place sweet potatoes in a baking dish with slits upright.
  3. To make the oatmeal crumble, combine the oats, 2/3 cup brown sugar, flour, 1/2 tsp cinnamon and salt in a bowl.  Using your hands, crumble in the remaining 1/4 cup of Country Crock spread and mix until the whole thing is moistened and comes together. Place an equal amount of crumble on top of each potato, pressing firmly and gently. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes, then cover with foil and bake for another 20-25 minutes.  To serve, cut in half.

Coconut Semolina Cake
Serves 10-12, adapted from An Edible Mosaic: Middle Eastern Fare with Extraordinary Flair


  • 2 batches of Scented Sugar Syrup (recipe below)
  • 2 cups (305 g) fine semolina flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 cup desiccated, unsweetened coconut
  • almonds


  1. Preheat the oven to 375. Grease a 10-inch round baking pan.
  2. Whisk together the semolina flour, baking powder, and sugar in a large bowl. Stir in the butter and then the milk until combined. Fold in the coconut.
  3. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and spread it out evenly. Let sit for 10 minutes.
  4. Score the batter into 1-inch square or diamond shapes with a sharp knife, periodically dipping the knife in hot water and drying it off before continuing. Place one almond in the center of each diamond.
  5. Bake until the sides and top are brown, about 30 minutes.
  6. Once out of the oven, cut the cake along the scored lines. Slowly pour the cooled Scented Sugar Syrup onto the cake. Let sit at room temperature for 2 hours to absorb the syrup before serving.

Scented Sugar Syrup
Yields 1 cup thin syrup or 2/3 cup thick syrup


  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 tbsp rose water


  1. Add the sugar, water, and lemon juice to a medium, thick-bottomed saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, giving the pan an occasional swirl.
  2. Turn heat down slightly and boil – 2 minutes for thin syrup and 5 minutes for thick syrup, swirling the pan on occasion. The syrup will thicken more as it cools.
  3. Turn off heat and stir in the rose water. Let cool to room temperature.

Thank you to Country Crock for being a sponsor. I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective. All opinions expressed here are my own.

You are reading this post on Eats Well With Others at Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and or owner of Eats Well With Others. All rights reserved by Joanne Bruno.
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101 Responses to Hasselback Sweet Potato Crumbles and Coconut Semolina Cake {GIVEAWAY}

  1. Tandy says:

    I still cannot get used to the idea of sweet potatoes as dessert 🙂 Have a GREAT run 🙂

  2. Wow, I love sweet potatoes and this looks fantastic! The squash recipes on the country crock site look amazing. I’m a sucker for any kind of squash though!

  3. OohLookBel says:

    A whole sweet potato smothered in cinnamon, all for your own? Brilliant! I’m sure your boyfriend is going to NEED a walk home if you keep fattening him up like this (lucky boy).

  4. I’m gonna have to say that’s a big hellz TO THA yeah. You’ve got yourself a good guy there, lady 😉 Okay, numero uno – I need these sweet potatoes in my life (as well as the Cinnamon Roasted Sweet Potatoes from the Country Crock site – oh yeah, like how I did that?). Numero dos – this cake totally rocked. I’m gonna go ahead and admit that I couldn’t stop grabbing “just one more diamond” here and there 😉

  5. Mary says:

    Joannne, both recipes look wonderful and I know that coming from your hand they must also be delicious. Good luck with the marathon this weekend. Blessings…Mary

  6. Katie says:

    The roasted cauliflower recipe on the CC site looks good, but this sweet potato recipe looks AMAZING!

  7. A Boy that will clean?! You’ve got a keeper, for sure! Good luck with your marathon, Joanne!! 🙂

  8. Anything with a crumble topping makes me happy. Delicious!

  9. Kat says:

    My Country Crock pick would have to be the roasted cauliflower… I bet the addition of parmesan takes it to the next level! And I cannot wait to make these hasselback sweet potatoes–they look amazing!

  10. Amy says:

    When Paul and I first started dating/living together (and yes, it pretty much was the same thing), he cleaned my apartment. Asked me where my vacuum cleaner was and I said “um. I don’t have one.” He also puts the toilet seat down. You see why I married him? As for the food…yum, yum, and yuuuum. Bring on Thanksgiving. I am ready!!

  11. Alicia says:

    Cranberry Orange spiced green beans. I love green beans and am always looking for new recipes.

  12. Mo 'Betta says:

    I’m not a fan of sweet potatoes, but these look AMAZING! Since my mom has sweet potatoes coming out of her ears, I’m going to send this to her!

  13. Camilla Mann says:

    Yes, yes…a man who cleans! That’s our deal: my husband hasn’t set foot in the kitchen in almost 15 years and I haven’t cleaned a toilet or taken out the garbage in that same amount of time. Works for us. Anyway…I am definitely going to make those cranberry spiced green beans. Those look delicious!

  14. Hotly Spiced says:

    The boy sounds like a very wonderful ‘boy’friend. I can imagine it’s not too much suffering for him, staying at your house, as the food is sensational. Just love the look of these two recipes xx

  15. Marcia says:

    yummy! And good luck on the marathon!!

  16. Stephanie says:

    I would LOVE to try the spoonable corn bread. Looks delicious, and is just my skill level – easy!

    Good luck this weekend!

  17. I would absolutely love that hasselback sweet potato!!! Also, the boy is a KEEPER!

  18. Faith says:

    Oh wow, so much to love about this post! First, you are brilliant for your sweet potato crumbles — need to make those ASAP! And I’m so happy that you enjoyed the cake!! Yours turned out really gorgeous.

    Awww, the.boy sounds like such a sweetie. Two desserts were definitely in order, lol.

    And lastly, good luck on Sunday!

  19. Alisa says:

    I was going to say that he sounds like a keeper, but you sound like one too!

  20. He cleans and then thanks you??? BTW did he end up thank you for the other stuff?
    The coconut semolina cake looks super

  21. Wow, the boy is unreal! And a big yum diddly doo dah for those potatoes and the cake! Thanks for spreading the word on the bake sale and good luck on the marathon-I know you’re going to rock it!

  22. I forgot to enter the giveaway, I would most like to make the spoonable cornbread. In fact, I made it last year for Thanksgiving!

  23. Sara says:

    i love the ‘easiest ever spoonable cornbread,’ yum!

  24. It is a toss up between the Baked Spiced Squash and the Cinnamon Roasted Sweet Potatoes. I think I will make both of them! I love this giveaway.
    [email protected]

  25. La Liz says:

    Great recipes, Joann! I love the “spoonable cornbread,” which is on my “to try” list soon. Good luck to you this Sunday.

  26. Lynn says:

    Hmmm – I’m thinking that roasted cauliflower would be tasty. And as always, yours look extremely tasty.

  27. Pam says:

    What a boyfriend! He’s definitely worth a couple of desserts. Love your sweet potatoes and cake too. The spoonable cornbread over at Country Crock looks good to me also! Good luck with the marathon!!!

  28. Mila says:

    Foo kyoot!
    I go gaga for any spiced winter veggies, so that Butternut Squash over at Country Crock is calling my name.
    (In all honesty, though, this Hasselback Sweet Potato sounds better. What *are* you?!)

  29. Firstly, WOW… when I first laid eyes on the topmost photo of your unbelievable sweet potato concoction I KNEW I must make this ASAP (thank goodness it’s almost the weekend!). I will probably add a little cayenne pepper as I like my sweet potatoes sweet and spicy.

    As for the Country Crock holiday recipe that piqued my interest, the cranberry-orange green beans caught my eye immediately. I love using fruit in savory dishes and the addition of shallots and pumpkin spice Country Crock spread would create a delightfully aromatic dish! This will without question be on the table on Thanksgiving Day.

    Also… the giveaway is TO DIE FOR. *fingers crossed*

    (email = [email protected])

  30. I am so glad to hear that you, too, are as great at keeping the kitchen clean as you are at making it a tool for genius creation!

  31. Pam says:

    What a guy. Both recipes look delicious and beautiful!

  32. Hope you’re doing well there. It’s a nightmare here in NJ…I know parts of the city are a mess too…I haven’t been able to work all week because our server’s been down/power is out. And my husband’s building all the way downtown is basically a sewer pit. Take care of yourself!

  33. Chris says:

    I’d have to go with spoonable cornbread, that sounds great.

  34. The spoonable cornbread is my choice 🙂 I’m a big fan of Country Crock. Good luck on Sunday! Your potatoes and cake both look so delicious.

  35. I love the sweet potato idea. I might try something like this for thanksgiving!

  36. Nicole says:

    Roasted cauliflower is my go-to!

  37. Debbie says:

    I love that sweet potato!!! It just looks so delicious. Since my husband is a huge fan of coconut cake I am going to have to give that a try soon….Good luck on Sunday Joanne!

  38. Jenn Kendall says:

    i love the sweet potato idea! i need to give that a try, looks soooo yummy!

  39. I’m drooling over your hasselback sweet potatoes and the cinnamon sweet potatoes on Country Crock’s site.

  40. Jenna says:

    I think the baked spiced squash looks good!

    But if the Country Crock spread has much less fat than butter and doesn’t contain hydrogenated oils … what is it? I thought we were supposed to be skeptical of fake food around here! They don’t have a list of ingredients on their web page.

  41. This is incredible, Joanne. I love the potato portion but that crumbly topping I’ll eat with a spoon!

  42. Christine says:

    The.Boy. is definitely a keeper! I’ll take the roasted cauliflower side dish hands-down. Looks delicious! I’d probably throw some green beans in too (near the end) when roasting, for color. Your hasselback sweet potatoes look quite addicting. Good luck in the Marathon, hope the weather’s kind to all the runners.

  43. Karis Ann says:

    Love the look of both recipe. Best of luck on Sunday!

  44. I think he is a keeper! I love men who can clean 🙂 Good luck with the marathon on Sunday. I think it’s just what the harried New Yorkers need right now!

    Delicious recipes too! Love my orange veggies 🙂 Semolina cakes have such a wonderful crumb – yours looks delicious.

  45. He’s a keeper. Send him over to do my floors when you’re done…but I suspect it will be a veryyyyy long walk. 🙂

  46. Chantal says:

    I absolutely love any thing brussels sprouts related at Thanksgiving. It’s a must!

  47. Wow – those potatoes look awesome! So creative and delicious.

  48. Anonymous says:

    most likely the baked squash as that would be “in season” now.

    best of luck for a good run on sunday.

    fruitcrmble AT comcast DOT net

  49. The sweet potatoes with crumbles sound really awesome! And wasn’t that coconut cake so good!

  50. The boy is just too sweet! You guys thank each other in such awesome ways! I mean that sweet potato – uh YUM! That totally needs to make an appearance on my thanksgiving table along with that cake!

  51. Heather says:

    These sweet potatoes look amazing. I’d also like to try the spoonable cornbread on Country Crock’s site.

  52. Your potato looks amazing! I should of had that for dinner tonight instead of leftovers! Hope you have a great weekend!

  53. Guru Uru says:

    Oh wow my friend, I simply adore your beautiful potato dish 😀
    I am in love with it!


  54. That Girl says:

    No one has ever thanked me for letting them clean!

  55. The spoonable cornbread looks delicious, I never thought of serving cornbread by spooning it out of the baking dish- genius.

    Also, I must know how to find a boyfriend who wants to clean for me.

  56. Kari says:

    I think the boy got thanked well 🙂 Both of these look incredible Joanne…and I love that if you try, you could almost call the potato the main meal and then move on to the cake for dessert!

  57. Can’t find sweet potatoes in our grocery these days…your hsselback sweet potato looks dang delicious!

  58. latanya t says:

    Cinnamon Roasted Sweet Potatoes

  59. That sweet potato crumble looks SO amazing! This would be perfect for Thanksgiving! I’d love to try the spoonable cornbread!

    GOOD LUCK WITH THE MARATHON! You’re inspirational :)!

  60. cquek says:

    That looks very wonderful.

  61. Nicole, RD says:

    That boy is a keeper! I want to have my way with one of the potatoes…and then the coconut semolina cake…

  62. Erica says:

    That sweet potato looks fantastic and your boy sounds wonderful :)I am loving Faith’s recipes!

  63. Terri Chew says:

    The roasted cauliflower looks good. But your sweet potato looks amazing. I will try that for sure.

  64. I love desserts that double as every-other-meal too. These both look amazing.

  65. I love both of these… I saw Gina’s post on the cake too and am so intrigued. I have never made anything with semolina before. And also… Keep the boy around, he sounds pretty special!

  66. grace says:

    cranberry orange green beans? that sounds yummy. not as yummy as your sweet taters here, but yummy just the same. 🙂

  67. Cinnamon Roasted Sweet Potatoes from country crock look good.

  68. What a good idea with the sweet potato crumbles! I am loving this idea.

  69. Reeni Pisano says:

    We always have sweet potatoes like this for Thanksgiving! I am looking forward to them already! The semolina cake looks pretty amazing too! I never had anything with rose water in it before. Would love to try it.

  70. Gloria says:

    First I love the semolina cake, I have to make sooon!”!
    second I love the boy I think is adorable, care him LOL
    huggs and have a nic eday !

  71. What an awesome bf! and man oh man do you know how to say thank you back! Can I thank you, too? =)

  72. Cinnamon Roasted Sweet Potatoes would be a hit at our Thanksgiving table Thanks!

  73. teresa says:

    aw, too sweet! i hope nyc it back to normal soon, i can’t imagine what it’s like right now.

    i LOVE the sweet potato, and the cake looks amazing.

  74. Out of the ballpark, on both of these recipes. I love me some Hasselback’s, but this version is amazing. So is the cake.
    Um, I’m thinking this post was written before the marathon got cancelled? I totally thought of you. Tough times in your side of the US. My thoughts, and prayers, hold that part of my country in my thoughts. xoxo

  75. Tiffany says:

    I will be making Cinnamon Roasted Sweet Potatoes, with honey drizzled on top! Thanks for the giveaway!

  76. Katie says:

    I’m sure he felt appreciated after those two treats. I love the idea of taking a big Thanksgiving side dish and making individual servings out of it1

  77. Both dishes must have made him smile just like you must have when seeing the shining floor.

  78. Cathleen says:

    Wow, that is strange. That would totally make my day.
    As would these delicious treats, yum!

  79. Jessie says:

    Omg, that sweet potato crumble … I’m totally on board with the single portion sides and desserts because they are just so darn cute. And they definitely kick the class up a notch. I think The Boy was properly thanked after these two gorgeous “desserts” 🙂

    Hope you’re doing well, Joanne! xx

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  81. I want this cake in my mouth right now!

    Ok… I think you’ve found a keeper. It’s why I have E around… to do dishes and wash the floor. 🙂

  82. Wow, I can’t imagine someone happily cleaning my kitchen floor. Amazing. And, both dishes looks like great rewards. I’d never thought of hasselbacking sweet potatoes. Great idea! I’d like a piece of the cake as a snack right now too, please.

  83. Mary says:

    WOW! The roasted cauliflower, I want it, I need it and the butternut squash, both must be on my table.

  84. I absolutely love the scalloped dishes – so marvelous. 🙂 Your sweet potato dish is an inspiration! Bless that fabulous man of yours for pitching in and cleaning for you. 🙂 He’s a keeper!!

  85. Debra Lee says:

    The cornbread looks delicious!

  86. no need to enter me
    just want to say that sweet potato looks INSANELY good!

  87. From the country crock website I would most likely try the roasted cauliflower.

  88. The veggie I love the most at Thanksgiving time is Mashed Potatoes.

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  90. Johanna GGG says:

    those potatoes look so cute and the cake looks delicious – in fact I think that the potatoes would make a great side dish to the cake

  91. Shannon says:

    those both look incredibly awesome. funny comment by the.boy. too, he’s a keeper 🙂

  92. Adding those lovely sweet potatoes to our Pinterest board!

  93. I’ll be making the roasted cauliflower!

  94. Great minds think alike! I’m doing this CG campaign too so I was just checking out the Pinterest board for the campaign and realized you made Hasselback potatoes too! Now I’m inspired to try the sweet potato version. Glad you and boy are both safe and dry!

  95. Roz P. says:


    I thought of you today when my father was diagnosed with Stage 4 Lung Cancer. How can I, if I may, contact you via message/email to ask you for your medical opinion? I know what you’ve been through with the loss of your father, and I just wanted to ask some questions if you don’t mind.

    Thank you,
    Roz from ‘la bella vita’

  96. Roz P. says:

    Hi Joanne, I just recieved our sweet reply/comment, and came back to your blog to find your ‘contact’ or email to chat, but couldn’t find it anywhere. My brother and sister are asking me questions that I have no answers for . . . the cancer dr. visits my dad again tomorrow after breaking the news to us today about my father’s cancer stage (my parents live with me in SC for the winter). I don’t think it is wise of me to leave messages of this sort directly on your blog, so if you’d like to email me with your contact info, I am at:


    Thank you for your kindness,

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