The trials and tribulations of a scatter-brained kitchen junkie.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Yummy Yam Cupcakes - AKA Week 0

Yams vs Sweet Potatoes

I was about 20 before I realized that yams and sweet potatoes were the same thing. Then I was 24 (aka about two days ago when I was making these) when I learned that they actually aren't. Education is a cruel cruel mistress. For anyone who's curious yams and sweet potatoes actually are two different vegetables, though the names are commonly used interchangeably. Soooo, these were technically sweet potatoes cupcakes according to the recipe, but the can I bought had the words sweet potato and yam on the packaging so I feel justified letting my title stand.

Over on reddit I signed up to (attempt to) participate in their 52 weeks of baking challenge. Each week we are given a theme and we get to design a recipe to bake. We then share pictures and recipes with the rest of the community. I joined this not only in hopes of expanding my baking horizons, but also as a kick in the pants to get more me time in the kitchen. Plus, the more fun experiments over there translates into more successful posts here.
Since people were so excited about the upcoming 52 weeks of challenge they decided to put together a week 0 challenge that we had the entire month of December to work on. Week zero was holiday cupcakes, and since I've had this recipe kicking around in my to-bake folder for a while I thought what better time than now!
Some people think of sweet potatoes as  a Thanksgiving only food, but I personally love them all through the winter months. There is something about them, much like pumpkin anything, that just screams cold weather soul food, so I give you sweet potato cupcakes.

Sweet Potato Cupcakes

I got this recipe from Better Homes & Gardens, and (as usual) tweaked it slightly. I also used my mother's cream cheese frosting recipe since there is nothing in the world that can top it.

The cakes
The sweet potatoes I used
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 20 oz can sweet potatoes in light syrup - mashed
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°
  2. Line a cupcake/muffin pan with 22 liners. (The recipe calls for 24, I got 23, and a few of my cupcakes were on the small side so I'll definitely condense next time.)
  3. Stir together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  4. Cream the butter & sugar until fluffy. 
  5. Add eggs one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition.
  6. Add the sweet potatoes and vanilla. I didn't pre-mash the sweet potatoes since they are so soft already and I was using my kitchenaid. If you're using a decent stand mixer I'd say you can skip the mashing in advance as well. 
  7. Add the flour mixture. Mix together until completely combined. Batter will be very thick and heavy.
  8. Spoon into lined cupcake pan.
  9. Bake for 25-30 minutes. The recipe states 20 minutes, but mine were still goo at that point.
  10. Remove from oven and cool on a wire wrack. 
This recipe was fairly straight forward and easy to follow though I did run into some snags along the way. First, the batter really didn't want to mix together, especially once the sweet potatoes were introduced. It's not that the sweet potatoes were too solid, quite the opposite actually; the sweet potatoes were so soft when they first were grabbed up by the mixer, that the eggs, sugar, butter mixture didn't want to combine with them. I turned off the mixture and just quickly incorporated the two by hand, then switched the mixer back on the finish the job. 
The second problem I came across was when adding the flour, when I say thick I mean thick. I think this was the thickest cake batter I have come across this far. That made getting it into the cupcakes holes both easier and more challenging simultaneously. Since the batter was thick, it was easy to scoop it up with a measuring cup, but then it does not want to release easily. I decided on a two hand approach; scoop up the batter with one hand, and use a spoon with the other to coax the batter into the cups. This was mostly successful.

I always forget to take pictures before I put the cupcakes in the carrier. Whoops!

The Frosting

  • 1 8 oz pkg cream cheese at room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 lb powdered sugar

  1. Beat the cream cheese until soft and smooth. About one minute.
  2. Mix in vanilla, scraping down the sides to mix thoroughly. 
  3. Slowly add powdered sugar while mixing on low. Scrape sides down as necessary.
  4. Eat with a spoon straight from the mixer if no one is looking. Seriously, it's that good. Then maybe get around to putting it on the cupcakes.
After the cupcakes are assembled they require sampling. For Science! These cupcakes were everything a cupcake should be; dense but still moist, sweet but not rot your teeth sugary, just the perfect balance of everything involved; true recipe success. This one is definitely a keeper and I think I may adapt it for pumpkin and perhaps banana cupcakes down the road.


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