Looking for a different way to serve up your sweet spuds? Prepare them Hasselback-style so they fan out when baked: the vertical layers provide a fun, dramatic canvas for caramelizing the sweet and savory topping of thyme, pecans, and Parmesan.
Potatoes: Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Use a sharp knife to cut each sweet potato crosswise into ⅛-inch slices, but leave them attached across the bottom. (Tip: To prevent potato from wobbling, cut a flat base for the potato to rest on as you make your slices. For the thicker middle section, place two chopsticks on either side of the potato. The chopsticks will create a barrier for your knife to prevent it from slicing through. If you do slice through to the bottom, simply use a toothpick to reconnect the potato.) Place the potatoes sliced side up on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Drizzle with olive oil, and rub the oil all over the skins. Season generously with salt and pepper. Bake for 45–60 minutes, depending on size.
Topping: In a bowl, mix together the olive oil and brown sugar. Use a Microplane grater to grate the garlic cloves directly into the bowl; stir to combine. Add pecans and 1 cup of the Parmesan; stir again. Remove thyme leaves from the stems by pinching the top of the sprig and pulling straight down. Roughly chop leaves and add to the bowl; stir to combine and taste for seasoning. Add pepper, mix, and set the topping mixture aside. (Note: Topping can be made 1 day ahead and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before using.)
When the potato skins are crispy and the interiors soft, remove from the oven. Nestle the topping between the slices and all over the tops of the potatoes. Place back in the oven, 10 more minutes. Remove potatoes from oven and transfer to serving dish. Scrape up any topping that has caramelized on the baking sheet and pile back onto the potatoes. Sprinkle remaining Parmesan on each potato and serve.