It is the week before Thanksgiving and we are all getting ready for our family and friends and good eating. Besides all the pumpkin we’ve been making with Pumpkin Cupcakes with Pecan Praline and Pumpkin Pie Inside Snickerdoodle Cupcakes, the next family favorite is always the Sweet Potato Casserole. Who doesn’t love the sweet crunchy goodness of brown sugar and nuts over sweet potatoes and my personal favorite the gooey toasted marshmallows? Yum!
Well, I say family. Little Cupcakeasaurus Rex swears up and down that he hates sweet potatoes. After these cupcakes, he is going to have a hard time getting away with that again. He ate it so fast he barely chewed and then wanted to argue with me when I told him the ingredients. Little Stinker! Suffice it to say, I think the boy likes sweet potatoes.
In many ways I treat sweet potatoes like pumpkin. I mean think about it, they are similar in color and once cooked pretty similar in texture. Their flavors are similar in many ways especially when you spice them up with things like cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and allspice. In fact, unless they are side by side, bite for bite, I think sweet potato pie can easily pass as pumpkin pie.
I like to do this recipe in one consecutive baking session. Sometimes I will bake the cakes, then do a topping and then come back to frost them. This is recipe is just much easier all at once. First preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Even though they won’t be needed until later, I went ahead and placed my pecans on a little baking sheet to toast.
While those are becoming nice and toasty, I then start on the sweet potato purée. Cut the sweet potatoes into about one inch cubes. I think the smaller pieces make them easier to mash but don’t stress on exactness here. Then just barely cover the potatoes in cold water and place on high heat. Similar to making regular mashed potatoes, just let them boil and get real tender. I used my wooden spoon to mash them into a purée but a fork or potato masher would work fine too. I felt like I was making homemade baby food or something while mashing these sweet potatoes.
The next step is to mix up the Pecan Topping. Mmmmm. There is quite the debate on whether this is the best part or the marshmallow is the best. I’ll let you decide. Mix together the Pecan Topping ingredients and just set to the side. It will be crumbly but that is the way we want it.
Like many of my recipes, I whisk together the dry ingredients in a medium-sized bowl which is later added to the wet ingredients. In a large mixing bowl, the sugar, butter and lemon zest will be creamed together. Add in the applesauce a little at a time. For conversion sake, if you are planning on making a cake and want to take the eggs out of it (or you ran out of eggs like a silly baking goose), then 1/4 cup applesauce is equal to one egg. However, you’ll want to add a bit more baking powder to balance it out. I would estimate about an 1/8 of a teaspoon of baking powder per egg being replaced. It is a fairly handy trick when you don’t have eggs or have a vegan in the house.
Add in the sweet potato purée and mix well. It is almost time for those dry ingredients to start making this batter look more like batter and less like sweet potato pudding.
Alternate adding the dry ingredients in with adding in the milk. I usually add in a third of the flour mixture and then half of the milk. Then, I will repeat that cycle by adding in another third of the flour mixture and the rest of the milk. The last third of the flour mixture you will want to fold in manually with a rubber spatula so as not to over mix the batter.
Fill the liners 3/4 of the way full of batter and then spoon the Pecan topping on top. Do not worry if the topping domes over the top of the cupcakes, just lightly press it down so that it really seeps in to the cupcake. Bake those for about 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean with just a few clinging crumbs.
Now, the original idea behind these cupcakes was to take the traditional Sweet Potato Casserole and turn it into an easy to eat delectable treat. However, at some point during the planning process, I overlooked the fact I was missing a baking essential! I didn’t have eggs! This did not pose a problem for the Sweet Potato Casserole cupcakes. In fact, by using applesauce instead of eggs, I feel like it really enhanced the flavor of the spices in the cake.
The problem really arose when I went to make the Whipped Marshmallow Frosting. Here is my disclaimer: The toasted marshmallow fluff in the picture is not the recipe posted below. Why? Well, here comes the embarrassing part. So, I get the bright idea to make Whipped Marshmallow Frosting. I have never made it before. Without reading a recipe (NOTE TO SELF: READ THE RECIPE), I began whipping up what I believed to be marshmallow fluff. Did I start with sugar or gelatin or marshmallow spread? Of course not. I started with a bag full of marshmallows. I have my off days guys. I’m allowed. 🙂
Anyway, as I’m mixing away at my bag of marshmallows, I finally decide to pull up a few recipes on how to make Marshmallow Frosting. Low and behold, that is when I see that I may need eggs for this project and now what is a girl to do? As a baker, I have powdered meringue on hand for just such occasions when I need egg whites and I don’t have them. So then I kind of try to follow the recipe but still including my original bag of marshmallows. None of it was really working. So I decided to save you the trouble of making my mistake so you can have beautiful tasty cupcakes instead of the mess I created.
Oh, you think that doesn’t sound all that bad? You haven’t heard the half of it. Since I did not follow directions, or started following them too late, or whatever, my marshmallow fluff was way wetter than it should’ve been. Even though I piped it onto the tops of the cupcakes, they quickly dispersed and spread across the tops of the cakes and down the sides of my tins.
I also learned a handy lesson about broiling during this endeavor. Marshmallows only take a few seconds to toast. If you walk away for even just a minute, they could catch on fire like campfire marshmallows and you’ll have an oven full of fire and a smoke detector going off and trying to explain to your Fire Captain fiancé how you almost burnt the house down. That’s all speculation of course. But, please learn from my mistakes and lightly toast your marshmallows instead of torching them.
Thankfully, my friends are those funny people who like the more blackened pieces of the campfire marshmallows and they actually loved the taste of the Sweet Potato Casserole Cupcakes with the added charred marshmallow topping. But, if you’d rather not explain that your cupcakes are just charred and not chocolate, then I suggest a light toasting doing the trick.
Maybe this year, instead of pulling out the casserole dish, pull out the cupcake tins instead and enjoy the traditional family favorite of Sweet Potato Casserole Cupcakes with all the sweet delicious flavor and the added benefit of easy individual servings.
Enjoy the time with your family folks. I know I will be. Make life taste sweeter by sharing this recipe with the ones you love.