Tag Archives: cupcakes

Sweet Potato Cupcakes with Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting & Candied Pecans

sweet potato cupcakes

Hey friends.

I know it’s been awhile.

Hopefully some sweet potato cupcakes will appease you. (For now.)

plain cupcakes

They are quite delightful, these moist little muffins topped with creamy frosting and crunchy pecans.

single cupcake

I’m currently testing recipes for a friend’s wedding. This friend, to be exact. These passed the test. Remember last time I made cupcakes for a wedding? I vowed only to do one wedding every two years.

I’m a woman of my word, it turns out. Except when that word involves promising to write more. That kind of thing is best left to chance.

Anyway, I know I should be posting recipes that help people keep their New Year’s resolutions, not actively attempt to break them. Alas, one of those recipes is best left to another day.

The original recipe for these cupcakes comes from some sort of Food Network cupcake challenge, but I’ve modified it to suit my tastes. (And the happy couple, of course.)

If you make them yourself, let me know how they turn out!

Sweet Potato Cupcakes:
Makes 18 – 24 cupcakes
2 cups mashed and cooled sweet potatoes, or one 16-ounce can
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
Cinnamon sugar, if desired

1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a few cupcake tins with paper liners.
2) In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger and nutmeg. In a large bowl, whisk together the butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar and eggs. Slowly incorporate the dry ingredients and then the sweet potato puree.
3) Fill cupcake tin cup three-quarters full of batter. Bake until the tops spring back when touched and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean — 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool.
4) Once cooled, frost the cupcakes with the frosting, top with candied pecans, and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.

Brown Sugar Frosting:
Frosts 18 – 24 cupcakes
One 8-ounce package cream cheese, at room temperature
2 sticks butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup light brown sugar
4 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1) Beat the cream cheese until creamy. Add the butter and beat until well incorporated.
2) Add the light brown sugar and beat until fluffy, then stir in the powdered sugar 1 cup at a time, beating until combined. Add the vanilla extract until fully incorporated.

Candied Pecans:
Makes four cups
Canola/vegetable oil, for greasing
1 egg white
4 teaspoons water
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 pound chopped pecans

1) Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Grease a baking sheet with oil.
2) Beat the egg white in a bowl until frothy, then whisk water and the vanilla extract into the egg.
3) Stir the sugar, cinnamon and salt into the egg mixture, then stir in the chopped pecans until they’re fully coated.
4) Spread the pecans onto the baking sheet and bake in 20 minute intervals, stirring the pecans before placing them back in the oven. Continue baking for about an hour.
5) Allow the pecans to cool on the baking sheet.

Advertisements

Strawberry Meringue Buttercream

That’s right. Get me in a foreign country renowned for its baked goods, and I’ll bake cupcakes that look like they came straight out of an all-American Martha Stewart cookbook.

After baking wedding cupcakes, I swore cupcakes off for, well, ever. Those suckers are so cloyingly sweet that I predicted my making them again would result in a lengthy sugar-induced coma, followed by my dramatic demise, frosting oozing out of every pore. I mean, I had nightmares about the last cupcakes I baked. I desperately want to move on to  a new baked-good food trend–perhaps whoopie pies, or macarons. Sometimes, however, my cupcake reputation precedes me. Or, as in this instance (and many others, frankly), I could not keep my mouth shut and, one afternoon, out poured my admission: I was in a class where my nickname was Cupcake. My cupcakes have won awards. My cupcakes bring all the boys to the yard. Et cetera.

This admission was followed by a shocking revelation: my family didn’t know what a cupcake was! As a self-assigned American Ambassador to Germany, I could not allow this ignorance to continue. Sure, the country already has yeasty soft pretzels, vibrant fruit tortes, and, my personal favorite, nuss-nougat croissants, but without cupcakes, Germany is a country still lacking in the ultimate vehicle for carbohydrates, butter and sugar.

Thus, I found myself baking cupcakes for one of my German family member’s birthdays. As much as I gripe about baking yet another dozen cupcakes, I derive great pleasure from the oohs and aahs that my cupcakes always elicit. Somewhere around the time that I take those little cakes out of the oven, they transform from the bane of my existence into my personal pride ‘n’ joy. Piping frosting on them is the closest I’ll ever get to being an artist.

My friend Kasey discovered this buttercream recipe, so I finally have a strawberry frosting I can be proud of, unlike last time. The recipe actually is Martha Stewart’s strawberry meringue buttercream, though I changed the wording in the directions to better represent how I interpreted the recipe, and included the European conversions I needed to make since I now lack proper measuring cups. I used the same chocolate cupcake base I always use.

Even I enjoyed the result of this cultural immersion experience. But, seriously, I need to learn how to make nuss-nougat-filled croissants before I ever delve into cupcake-making again. Recipe suggestions welcome!

Strawberry Meringue Buttercream:
Makes enough to frost 16 or so cupcakes piped fancy-style, 24 cupcakes when simply spread on
4 large egg whites
1 1/4 cups (250 grams) sugar
1 1/2 cups (350 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into tablespoons
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups (300 grams) strawberry jam, pureed in a food processor or blender

1) Set a heatproof mixing bowl over a pot of simmering water. Stir in egg whites and sugar, whisking constantly until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is a glossy white. Remove bowl from heat and beat egg whites with an electric mixer until the egg whites form stiff peaks and the mixture is cooled. (It has to be cool or the butter will melt!)
2) Slowly combine butter into the egg mixture a few tablespoons at a time, beating well between additions. Add vanilla, then stir in strawberry jam puree until the frosting is smooth.

More Cupcakes

Variety pack: raspberry, vanilla, mint, and chocolate buttercream frosting.

Seriously, no more cupcakes for awhile. I mean it.

Salted Caramel Frosting

I entered these, with my chocolate cupcake base, into The Preservation Society of Chapel Hill’s cupcake competition. While they didn’t win, I heard all good things about the frosting. (Confession: After baking an excessive amount of cupcakes these past few weeks, I couldn’t bear to eat even a crumb.) But I trust my friends’ endorsements. I burned my first attempt, and my second attempt hardened into an unpleasant pile on top of last night’s cupcakes.

So, for goodness’ sake, don’t overcook the brown sugar. Heat it, add the milk, and don’t linger around the stove. If anyone asks, though, you slaved away at the stove all day.

Salted Caramel Frosting:
1/4 C. butter
3/4 C. light brown sugar
1/4 C. evaporated milk
2 1/2 C. confectioner’s sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
dash of salt
sea salt

1) Melt butter in a heavy pot. Slowly add brown sugar, combining quickly.
2) Stir in evaporated milk. Remove from heat.
3) Stir in confectioner’s sugar, vanilla, and salt.
4) Put in Ziploc bag or pastry bag and swirl onto cooled cupcakes.
5) Immediately top each cupcake with a small pinch of sea salt.

Okay, seriously. Last post about cupcakes for a good long while.

A New Blog with an Old Recipe: Mint Chocolate Cupcakes

It’s appropriate for me to begin my new blog with an old recipe.

Almost a year ago, my mint chocolate (chip) cupcakes won the title of “fan favorite” at the 2009 Chapel Hill Cupcake Competition. They won over my classmates last fall. They earned me the potentially ominous nickname of “Cupcake.” (I enjoy a good cupcake, but I don’t aspire to look like one.)


So, as I embark on my senior year of college and a brand new blog, I want to start with a recipe that’s sweetly optimistic. Unless consumed in large quantities, leading to a diabetic coma.

My tastebuds rejoice in the refreshing flavor of sweet mint combined with the intensely dark, fudgey chocolate cake. It’s one of my absolute favorite combinations in candies and ice cream. So why not translate it into everyone’s favorite food trend–the cupcake?


The chocolate base I use is from Cupcakes Take the Cake. I let them cool for at least an hour.

Then I whip up a simple mint buttercream frosting. Helpful hint: Use store-bought frosting to stick tile to your floors. Make homemade frosting to top your baked goods.

Mint Buttercream:
1 stick of softened butter
4 C. confectioner’s sugar
2 TB or so of milk
1 t. peppermint extract
A few drops of green food coloring, if desired

1) Beat the butter. Slowly combine confectioner’s sugar.
2) Add extract and food coloring.
3) Add a bit of milk at a time, until frosting reaches a whipped consistency.

I like to dump the frosting in a Ziploc baggie and cut one corner diagonally, about 1/2-inch in length. That creates the bakery-style swirls without necessitating the purchase of a pastry bag.

Now I’ll spend the rest of the evening perfecting this year’s cupcake entry. What flavor combinations are your favorite? If it’s a sweet recommendation, I’d love to incorporate it into a future cupcake concoction.