6 tablespoons butter, divided
2 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes (3 to 4 large ones), peeled, quartered lengthwise, and cut into 1/2-inch-thick pieces
1 cup milk (not nonfat), divided
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup chopped pecans
Melt 4 tablespoons of the butter in a large (4-quart) saucepan or other heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add the sweet potatoes, stir to coat with the butter, and sauté for about five minutes. Add 2/3 cup of the milk and the salt, stir again to coat the sweet potatoes, then cover the pot and turn the heat down to medium-low.
Cook the sweet potatoes, uncovering the pot to stir every 5 minutes, until they are very soft and beginning to fall apart — this will take about 15 minutes total. If at any point the liquid has completely evaporated or the potatoes are beginning to brown on the bottom of the pot, add a splash of water, stir, and turn the heat down a little bit. When the sweet potatoes are finished cooking, turn off the heat.
Mash the potatoes right in the pot with a potato masher. Add the final 1/3 cup of milk and whisk the sweet potatoes vigorously, until whipped and lightened in texture. Taste for seasoning, adding more salt if desired. Spoon into a serving dish.
Heat the remaining two tablespoons of butter with the maple syrup and pecans in a small skillet or saucepan over medium heat. When the mixture begins to bubble vigorously, stir and pour it over the sweet potatoes. Serve hot.