Fall Fest: Sweet Potato Cupcakes

By: Michelle Buffardi
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We're teaming up with other food and garden bloggers to host Fall Fest 2010, a season-long garden party. Each week we'll feature favorite garden-to-table recipes and tips to help you enjoy the bounty, whether you're harvesting your own goodies or buying them fresh from the market. To join in, check out awaytogarden.com.

Marshmallows are dessert. They're made of sugar and are positively dreamy when floating in a cup of homemade hot cocoa. They're probably at their best when charred on an open flame (on a stick found in the woods, of course) stacked on a piece of slowly-melting chocolate and smooshed between two graham crackers. Or, if you'll admit to certain guilty pleasures, marshmallows are pretty fabulous when melted with butter, mixed with cereal and formed into Rice Krispie Treats. There are endless ways to enjoy these sweet, springy confections, but the dinner table is surely not the best place to showcase them.

Enter the ubiquitous marshmallow-topped sweet potato casserole. Surely invented to trick kids and adults into eating a not-so-popular tuber: the sweet potato, Sweet Potato Casserole is featured prominently on Thanksgiving tables and in womens' magazines — right next to the canned onion-topped green bean casserole — this time of year. Well it's high time we put marshmallows back where they belong, on the dessert buffet, and the can take those sweet potatoes with them.

It's not too hard to imagine Sweet Potato Casserole as a dessert. You basically add some eggs and flour and you're there. A cake is fun, but cupcakes are 100 times more enjoyable, so get your cupcake liners ready, and cook some sweet potatoes; Emeril's recipe for Sweet Potato Spice Cake, from our sister site Food Network, works perfectly as little cakes, you'll just have to take the extra step to complete them with the marshmallow topping.

So first, you want to bake your cupcakes, using Emeril's Sweet Potato Cake recipe, nuts are optional. The recipe calls for mashed, cooked sweet potatoes -- boiled or steamed will work well, and so will roasted (skins on). Once they're cooled, add a very thin layer of vanilla frosting to each cupcake. You don't need a lot, and it's ok if there are holes or thin spots in your frosting coverage, the frosting will act like glue for the marshmallows, not as a topping like on a traditional cupcake.

Once frosted, top with mini marshmallows, pressing each into the frosting so it sticks, in a circular pattern.

From here, you can put them back in the oven under the broiler for a couple of minutes to melt the marshmallows. But you'd be missing out on the fun involved with wielding a blow torch. Oh, you don't have a culinary blow torch? Put one on your Christmas list — they're inexpensive, and you'll look and feel badass when using yours.

Carefully toast the tops of your cupcakes using a culinary torch and serve. The process of brulée-ing 24-30 individual cupcakes is a bit time consuming, but it's so worth it.

The result is not only a proper use of marshmallows, but the cake itself it incredibly moist and delicious, so overall a successful side dish redux. Now to figure out how to make Green Bean Casserole cupcakes ... maybe next year.

Sweet Potato Cupcakes

Yeild: 24-30 cupcakes


1 teaspoon unsalted butter at room temperature, plus 1/2 pound (2 sticks)

1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar

2 cups mashed cooked sweet potatoes (about 2 pounds raw sweet potatoes)

4 large eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1 cup chopped toasted walnuts
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line cupcake pans with cupcake liners and set aside.

In a large bowl using an electric mixer, cream the butter, brown sugar, and sugar. Add the sweet potatoes and beat until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, and beat after each addition.

Into a bowl, sift together the flour, soda, powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, and nutmeg. Add to the sweet potato mixture a third at a time. Fold in the nuts and vanilla. Fill cupcake pans 3/4 full and bake until a tester inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean, about 1 hour. Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes in the pans.

Cool cupcakes completely on a wire rack.

What's your favorite sweet potato recipe? Shout it out in the comments, or share your favorite recipes on Twitter at #fallfood.

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