November 13, 2012

Sweet Potato Cupcakes with Brown Sugar Buttercream

I have this favorite cupcake shop here in Austin, and their November flavor of the month cupcake is one I look forward to all year. The one I ate Saturday night inspired me to try my hand at making sweet potato cupcakes for a girls dinner on Monday. I couldn't find a recipe that sounded good (or one that wasn't pumpkin) so I made one up and got the icing recipe from Martha Stewart here. The cupcakes are super easy to make, but this was my first time making buttercream and I had a bit of trouble. Although it turned out to be absolutely delicious, it looked like curdled vomit somewhere in the middle. Appetizing, I know.  :)  If you don't want such a heavy icing or don't have time to make it, a brown sugar glaze would be wonderful on these lightly sweetened cupcakes. Also, the cupcakes are great with no icing. Try eating one warm with just a smidge of butter - it's delicious! I've included some tips and tricks at the bottom of each recipe to help clear up any confusion you may run into. Enjoy!

Sweet Potato Cupcakes
Makes 10-12 Cupcakes

1/2 cup mashed sweet potato*
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), softened
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 eggs
1 cup flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt

1. Preheat oven to 350º and place cupcake liners in muffin pan.
2. Combine all dry ingredients. (Flour, spices, baking soda and powder, and salt)
3. Combine butter and sugar with electric mixer.
4. Mix in sweet potato and vanilla.
5. Beat in eggs one at a time.
6. Mix dry ingredients into the potato mixture until combined.
7. Spoon mixture into liners until each is approximately 3/4 full.
8. Bake 20 minutes or until tops are brown and toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
9. Cool completely before icing.

*I purchased a rather large sweet potato, peeled it, poked it with a fork, and cooked it on 3/4 power in the microwave for 10 minutes, turning it over after the first 5. The potato I bought yielded about 1.5 - 2 cups mashed. Also, it was piping hot and I didn't want to mess up the butter and eggs so I pulled out the 1/2 cup I needed and refrigerated it for a bit. In hindsight I would have bought a smaller potato and not wasted my time peeling it. Either way works though.

Brown Sugar Buttercream
Makes Approx. 2 Cups

2 egg whites
1/2 brown sugar, packed
pinch of salt, omit if using salted butter
3/4 cup butter (1.5 sticks), softened

1. Whisk eggs, sugar, and salt together in a heatproof bowl and set bowl on top of a simmering pot of water.*
2. Whisk continually until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is warm to the touch.
3. Transfer mixture into a cool mixing bowl, and beat on medium-high until cool and fluffy, about 15 minutes.**
4. Begin to mix on high and beat until stiff peaks form. †
5. Reduce speed and add butter a few tablespoons at a time until it is incorporated. ‡
6. If needed, beat on medium-high until it actually looks like icing.

*Google "Double Broiler" if you've never seen this done.
**My mixture never got fluffy, just frothy.
† This step took the longest for me, but it did finally get there after 15-20 minutes.
‡ This is where my mixture started to look like, well, it looked nothing like icing. I decided to turn up the mixer speed, and it finally got to the point where it actually looked (and tasted!) like buttercream.

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