Thursday, November 17, 2011

One last valiant effort...

I really must say that I am not a huge fan of sweet potato, or cooked orange veggies in general.  I don't care for the sweetness, nor do I really care for the texture.  The little fibers that run back and forth across the flesh of a sweet potato I find to be revolting as my teeth cut through them individually.  We never had sweet potatoes growing up, so I am going to assume that my parents don't care for them either.

Now, as the vegetable has received so much glory in recent years, believe me- I have tried to stomach them.  I have tried them roasted with exorbitant amounts of butter, cinnamon, and sugar.  I have tried them deep-fried with gallons of ketchup.  I have even pureed them with heavy cream to see if maybe, just maybe there is one circumstance when I could swallow them without grimace.  

In one final, valiant effort, I pureed a large roasted sweet potato and subbed it in for pumpkin in my Pumpkin Spice Cake.  One bite of this tender cake and... sold.  Top it with Brown Sugar Toasted Marshmallow Frosting, and call it "pretty darn palatable."  

Oh, and did I mention it was a purple sweet potato?

Purple Sweet Potato Puree

Yes, God's makes purple sweet potatoes, and above is the actual sweet potato puree mixed with some buttermilk.  Wow.  And here it is in cupcake form...

Purple Sweet Potato Cupcakes

The cake was a bit more purple when I baked it, but it oxidized overnight (which was awfully disappointing).  Regardless, I think it is still pretty pleasant on the eyes...

Purple Sweet Potato Cupcakes

With Candied Pecans

And for a finishing touch, I candied a handful of pecans.  Good decision, I think...

Purple Sweet Potato Cupcakes with Toasted Brown Sugar Marshmallow Frosting

I found my purple sweet potato at the Fresh Market, which is an upscale although not necessarily natural grocery store.  I am sure regular orange sweet potatoes will be just fine!

Purple Sweet Potato Cupcakes with Toasted Brown Sugar Marshmallow Frosting and Candied Pecans
(should make @16)
For the cake:
1 purple sweet potato, roasted (enough to make 1 cup of puree)
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 t vanilla extract
1 stick of unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 cups ap flour
1/4 cup corn starch 
1 t soda
1/2 t kosher salt
1/4 t baking powder
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t ground ginger
1/4 t ground nutmeg or cloves

Puree 1 cup of the sweet potato with the buttermilk and vanilla.  Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 350.  Put liners in muffin tins.
Cream the brown sugar with the butter until fluffy, scraping the bowl down on occasion.  
Add the eggs one at a time, beating completely into the batter.  
In a separate bowl, sift together all of the dry ingredients.  Add the dry ingredients in 3 additions, alternating with the puree. BEGIN AND END WITH THE DRY!  Really scrape down the sides and bottom of your bowl between additions.  You don't want beige streaks in your cupcakes.

When the ingredients are fully incorporated, fill the muffin cups all the way to the top.  Bake for 18-20 minutes, and put individual cakes on a cooling rack immediately.  

For the Frosting...
6 egg whites
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4+1/8 t cream of tartar
2 t vanilla paste or extract

In the bowl of a stand mixer (or in a double-boiler), mix the sugar with the egg whites.  Place the bowl over a simmering pot of water, and stir constantly until a candy thermometer reads 160 degrees.  Pull from the heat, and beat on high.  Sprinkle in the cream of tartar, and beat for 6-7 minutes.  The frosting should be ultra-stiff at this point.  Add the vanilla, and blend to incorporate.  

Pile the frosting on the cooled cupcakes, and singe the exterior with a kitchen torch.  

Top with...

Candied Pecans!
1/2-1/4 of an egg white
@1/4 cup brown sugar
pinch of cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
pinch of whatever other spices you want to throw in there...
pinch of kosher salt
1/2 cup pecan halves

Combine the egg white, sugar, salt, and spices in a small bowl to make a viscous syrup.  Toss in the pecans and stir to coat.  Pour onto a cookie sheet lined with wax paper, and spread out until even.  Put in a oven preheated to 275, and bake for 15 minutes.  When they cooled, I broke them apart and placed a few on each cupcake.  And a few in my mouth.  

Yum.  Enjoy!


  1. In desperation I made sweet potato creme brulee one year for Thanksgiving. It was much better than the "casserole" with the marshmallos, brown sugar, etc.

  2. love the first three photos. what an amazing thing - purple sweet potatoes!

  3. I thought they were yams in the pureed form. Why, they may be distant relatives, I guess, cousins perhaps. I am a fan of sweet potato (anything resembling the rootcroop texture of potatoes, yams, etc...I like!)I love them more if they come in vibrant colors like the super orange sweet potato, this purple variety that you posted, i have seen a reddish variety too. Now I know why you suddenly loved this root crop, can't blame you, I have loved them ever since! Thnks for sharing such a great recipe!

  4. I've never heard of purple sweet potato! What an amazing cupcake. Gorgeous photos, too.

  5. Sweet potato creme brulee? no way! and susan, you never have told me about owning a restaurant!

    Thanks, Faith!

    @ My Fudo- I have seen the bright reddish ones. Apparently out in the more rural areas of my town, there is a grower who produces ultra-vibrant ones. Can't wait to get ahold of them...

    @ Jen- I hadn't heard of them until I saw them this week. Thank's, and I'll let my husband know about he photos...

  6. My beautiful, deep purple sweet potato cupcakes turned green. GREEN! Can you believe that? Now they are a lovely green, but some chemical reaction happened and they look like green tea cupcakes. I'm frosting with a brown sugar cream cheese frosting. Cheers!

  7. oh, no, angelcakes! I mentioned above that mine oxidized a bit... they were pretty bright, but they turned a bit grey overnight. cover really well with that frosting:)

  8. i love steaming those purple potatoes and just eat them like that... It's so healthy and PRETTY :)

  9. I have been eating and loving purple sweet potatoes for years now. It's healthier for you than a regular sweet potato because of the color. I am definitely going to try this recipe. Pics look fabulous. Thanks Rachel!