I prefer using fresh sweet potatoes over the canned variety. However, not everyone feels this way. Around the fall holidays, towering mountains of canned yams are constructed in grocery stores throughout the South. Truth is, the contents are not yams at all. What are often labeled and sold as yams are actually sweet potatoes. Botanically speaking, yams are tubers and members of the lily family; sweet potatoes are the root of a member of the morning glory family. There are many varieties of both that differ in size, taste, shape and color.
When I doubted Mama about the amount of butter and sugar in this dish for a mere four sweet potatoes, she laughed and said, “Y’all always like it this way.” Feel free to reduce the amount of sugar and butter in the sweet potato base as your conscience or waistline see fit.