Sunday, March 27, 2011

Mini Sweet Potato Cupcakes

Yes, I know we're on the precipice of springtime. And yes, these cupcakes were baked in the heart of winter squash and potato season... for a Winter term Finals potluck, in fact. Two rounds of finals later, I though I might have a chance to catch up on some of this blog backlog over Spring Break.

I also thought I'd be able to do my laundry. But Seattle had other plans and decided to become sunny and beautiful, mocking anyone who dared to do indoor things.

So instead of blogging I did a waterfall hike, some wine tasting, an underground city tour, brunch, BBQ and multiple Greenlake walks.

Now, finally, on Sunday night the rain has returned, returning my focus to a more wintry time. A time of studying, potlucks and

Sweet Potato Cupcakes (adapted from Southern Living, Nov. 2007):

- 2 cups sugar (reduce to 1 cup if making muffins)
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 2 large sweet potatoes
- 1/2 cup butter (softened)
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 4 eggs
- 1/4 cup orange juice

- Cream cheese frosting
- Topping: maple candy and chopped pecans (or pre-candied nuts, chopped)

Preheat oven to 350.

The original recipe called for a can or mashed yams, but the only ones I could find at the store were fresh or candied. So I opted for fresh and just mashed them myself. Start by boiling some water, add a pinch of salt and 1/4 cup of the sugar. Peel and chop potatoes (smaller pieces for faster cooking), and add to water.

While potatoes are cooking, whisk together all dry ingredients except sugar.

When potatoes finish boiling (can be easily pierced with a fork), drain and pour into a large bowl. Mash together with the butter (just like making mashed potatoes). Whisk in the eggs and vanilla; then stir in remaining sugar.

Gradually add the dry ingredients, stirring just until all flour has been mixed in. Spoon into muffin tins (minis are fun!) and bake for 20-25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean (longer for full sized).

While muffins are baking or cooling (at least 30 min.), you can prepare the cream cheese frosting (any ol' recipe you like), and the nutty crumble topping. I am lucky to have parents who know how much I adore anything with real maple in it and who like to bring me treats from their travels. That made it easy for me to just chop up some maple candy with pecans for a yummy crumble topping.

Other alternatives are chopped candied nuts, or simply chopped toasted nuts to bring it down a notch.

Once cupcakes have cooled, simply frost, add some topping, and share!