Saturday, February 4, 2012

Another use for sweet potatoes - in dessert!

When I recently made sweet potato hummus it was out of necessity - I had four sweet potatoes that had been sitting around for far too long and I didn't want them to go to waste.  So, during prep for the hummus I baked all four medium-sized potatoes with the intention of using two for hummus and two for...something else.  It took a few days, but I decided to use the remaining sweet potatoes for cupcakes! 

Sweet potato and apple cupcakes with brown sugar goat cheese frosting

I had a flavor combination in mind for the cupcakes (sweet potatoes, ginger, cinnamon) and for the frosting (I had been wanting to make a goat cheese frosting for a while!) so I Googled "sweet potato cupcakes" and "goat cheese frosting" to find a recipe.  Unfortunately I didn't find a recipe that I completely wanted to use, but I did find a couple that I used as a starting point that I could modify to suit my taste.  I do this fairly often - find a recipe that looks pretty good and then tweak it to my liking.

I started with a sweet potato cupcake recipe from Martha Stewart's Cupcakes book (I seriously love this book, haven't made a bad cupcake from any of the recipes).  Martha's Candied Sweet Potato Cupcake (page 243) sounded really tasty, but I wanted to incorporate a couple more flavors so I browsed the internet to get an idea of just how much ginger I should add.  I stumbled upon a recipe for Apple Spice cupcakes and had an idea - add some apple to the cupcakes too!  I valued this idea for a couple of reasons - first, Jim is not a huge fan of sweet potatoes so I wanted to make sure the cupcakes didn't taste too strongly of them; secondly, I didn't have quite enough sweet potato for the Martha recipe!  (I knew I wanted to tone down the sweet potatoes so I also considered adding grated carrots to make a sweet potato-carrot cake fusion...maybe I'll try this in the future!)

As I mentioned earlier, I had been wanting to make a goat cheese frosting for a long time.  I had been going in circles in my head over what kind of cupcake/cake/cookie would work best with a goat cheese frosting and I had whittled my list down to a few options, with sweet potato cupcakes being one.  I knew I wanted to include some kind of flavor to tie into the cupcakes but I didn't want to make a spiced frosting (spiced cupcake + spiced frosting = too much spice) so I added some brown sugar to the frosting.  My father-in-law said the frosting was great, so I think the addition was successful!

Sweet Potato and Apple Cupcakes with Brown Sugar Goat Cheese Frosting

For the cupcakes (Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart's Candied Sweet Potato Cupcake recipe)
1 lb sweet potatoes* (approx. 2 medium potatoes)
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp ground ginger
2 sticks butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar, packed
4 large eggs, room temperature
2 tsp vanilla
2-3 apples (I used Pink Lady apples but I think Fuji, Gala, or other baking apple would work)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Individually wrap sweet potatoes in foil and bake for 45-50 minutes, until tender. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Unwrap foil and remove peel.  In a bowl, mash sweet potatoes with a fork until smooth.  You should have about 1 cup of mashed sweet potatoes.  Set aside.
*I baked the sweet potatoes the night before and stored the peeled potatoes in tupperware overnight in the refrigerator.

Decrease oven temperature to 325 degrees and prepare a muffin tin with paper cupcake liners.

In a separate bowl, whisk dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt and spices) together.  Set aside.  With a stand mixer or electric handheld mixer, cream butter and sugars on medium-high speed.  When the butter mixture is pale and fluffy, add eggs (one at a time) and beat until completely incorporated.  Add mashed sweet potatoes and vanilla, beat until mixed.  Reduce mixer speed to low and add flour mixture in three batches, allowing for complete incorporation between additions.  Set aside cupcake batter.

Peel two apples (I used a vegetable peeler) and grate onto a double layer of paper towels using a large-holed grater.  If two apples do not yield about one cup of grated apple, peel and grate the third apple.  Gather grated apple in the paper towels and squeeze out the moisture (you'll be surprised how much juice can come out!).  Stir grated apple into cupcake batter.

Fill lined cups three-quarters full with cupcake batter.  Bake for 14 minutes, rotate pan, and bake for another 14 minutes (28 minutes total) or until a cake tester inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean.  Cool cupcakes completely before decorating with goat cheese frosting (recipe below).

For the goat cheese frosting (recipe adapted from Honey Goat Cheese Frosting recipe)
7.5 oz goat cheese, room temperature
6 oz cream cheese, room temperature
3 tbsp butter, room temperature
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 cup brown sugar

With a stand mixer or electric handheld mixer on medium-high speed, cream goat cheese, cream cheese, butter and vanilla until light and fluffy.  Add powdered sugar and mix until combined.  Add brown sugar and mix until combined, making sure the sugar has dissolved and frosting is not grainy.  Transfer frosting to a pastry bag fitted with a large round tip (or a pastry bag with the tip cut off to leave about a dime-sized opening) and frost cooled cupcakes.


Yes, I did take that bite of cupcake...purely for artistic purposes though, right?!

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