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The Batter Thickens: Sweet Potato Casserole Cupcakes

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Sweet Potato Casserole Cupcakes

The Batter Thickens is on vacation. (Sweet words on a sweet blog.) That means we're united, ready for a week full of joint baking projects, joint posts, and sharing (a little too much) food together. 

[Speaking of joint posts, this post comes to you in two voices: Molly's will be left-aligned; Audrey's will be right-aligned and italicized. But we bet you'd probably be able to tell who's speaking anyway.]

Hello, this is me, Audrey, over here!

And that's even before we hit Thanksgiving.

Actually, we won't even be baking anything on or for Thanksgiving day! We're in Door County, where we spend Thanksgiving week with family friends every year. It's too much hassle to lug a kitchen's worth of cooking supplies - not just ingredients, but pots and pans and other utensils, because our rental condo's kitchen is almost as poorly stocked as my dorm kitchen! - on a 10-hour car ride for the purpose of one meal. No matter how big a deal that meal may be. So we hit up a Thanksgiving buffet instead.

Which is like brilliant- all the food, none of the effort required to bake a feast. And artfully prepared better than we probably could ourselves.

But before you start picturing a Denny's, with flickering florescent lights, lukewarm dry turkey, and family feuds - stop! That could not be further from the truth. This Thanksgiving buffet is every inch gourmet. Tender, flavorful meat; a wider variety of vegetables and side dishes than we could ever hope to pull off ourselves; and of course, a plentiful dessert table stocked with the traditional pies, plus cookies, cakes, and a heaping bowl of homemade whipped cream.

Just for the record, I look forward to dessert (almost) the most because you walk by the table stacked with  cookies and pies and muffins (randomly) and whipped cream, and so for the whole time you're getting all your savory foods, you're thinking, "Oooh, yum, is that a chocolate pecan cake? I'm getting that. Oh, wait, pumpkin? That's a classic. Maybe I can split that with Molly..."

We dream about this buffet all year long. And every Thanksgiving, we live in anticipation of the moment when we all stand up from the table and finally - finally - join that buffet line once again.

Well, I don't know if I would say we spend the whole year looking forward to it. But at least all of November :P. 
My mouth is watering already.
My mouth is actually watering at these pictures at the moment...

Because we don't get to make our Thanksgiving feast ourselves, we got the Thanksgiving flavor impulses out of our system a little bit early, in the form of Sweet Potato Casserole Cupcakes.

Sweet potato casserole is actually something we have never tried- which is crazy because it is such a Thanksgiving classic! I've heard all about it on various baking websites and by word of mouth. It's a great combo now that I have tried it, and it would be interesting to explore similar avenues of flavor. (Pretty fancy wording huh?)

Before you let the words 'casserole' and 'cupcake' side by side turn you off, let me explain. These cupcakes combine all the great flavors of a sweet potato casserole with all the moist, cakey sweetness of a cupcake. They consist of a graham cracker crust, soft sweet potato cake, and an elegant marshmallow frosting. (How can a marshmallow frosting be elegant, you ask? It's all in the vanilla extract, I say: every recipe's secret weapon.)

If the words casserole and cupcake together turned you off, you should try these, and then you will suddenly love the idea of casserole cupcakes and will be that much more of an adventurous eater. Take my philosophy- when it comes to food, everything (within reason), deserves a chance to be tried.

If the idea of a sweet potato cupcake still isn't working for you - it threw several of our eaters for a loop, before they tried it - try thinking about it as pumpkin's quirky, under-appreciated cousin. They're actually really similar flavors, but for some reason pumpkin hogs all the attention and leaves sweet potato standing just out of the spotlight, the awkward afterthought. But let me assure you, sweet potato is more than deserving of its moment in the spotlight. It puts a fresh face on all the spiced autumnal sweetness you love about pumpkin, but without the borderline overexposure. Craving a seasonal desert but finding yourself (just a little bit) sick of pumpkin after almost two months of non-stop promotion? Sweet potato is your solution. 

I would just like to point out that sweet potato is also just a wonderful flavor and should be appreciated all times of year and for it's own uniqueness. Everyone's an individual. The same goes to potatoes. If  you were to sing the song, "What Makes You Beautiful" to a sweet potato, you could compliment its totally unique flavor that is amazing. "Sweet potatoes light up my mouth like nothing else, the way that you... Taste like... Sweet potatoes."

Don't knock it 'til you try it!

Or if you try it and still don't like it, don't even knock it, because you might throw other people off.

These cupcakes are everything you love about sweet potato casserole...but even better. Obviously. Because they're dessert. Cinnamon rounds out the cake's full-bodied sweet potato flavor, and the graham crust, which gets kind of intermingled with the bottom of the cake, is that extra special touch that takes a recipe from 'good' to 'unique' or 'exceptional.' The marshmallow frosting adds that classic complement. It's both sticky and smooth, its sweetness given a little depth by the vanilla flavoring...as though you melted down homemade marshmallows to make it. (Spoiler: You didn't. That elegance is just marshmallow fluff in disguise.)

I agree, it was quite delicious. The frosting just by itself was just... Yum. It was like sugar marshmallow vanilla goo frosting that you kind of just wanted to eat with a side of cupcake. But of course the cupcake was delicious, the graham crust was a nice compliment for the full effect, so you wouldn't really want to have the frosting with a side of cupcake. Also you would probably have a sugar rush because, I'm not going to lie, there's a bunch of sugar in that frosting.

Traditions stick to our family like marshmallow fluff to a finger, and I can easily see these cupcakes becoming a new annual addition to our holiday baking repertoire. As I write this post, my mind is wandering to the moment when finish writing and help myself to one of the subjects of this post.

I think a tradition of this would be great, when has annual yumminess not sounded good?

But before I go sink my teeth into a cupcake, I leave you with this shot of the gorgeous view from our back porch here in Door county:
(It's even more beautiful in real life!)

And one final gratuitous cupcake shot:

Happy Thanksgiving!

- Molly
-And Audrey

Sweet Potato Casserole Cupcakes
From How Sweet It Is

Makes 12 cupcakes.

For the graham crust:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/2 teaspoon sugar

For the cupcakes:
1 1/3 cups loosely packed brown sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
6 ounces cooked, mashed sweet potato
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup milk

For the frosting:
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), softened
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups marshmallow fluff
3 cups of powdered sugar
1-2 teaspoons milk, if needed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a cupcake tin with liners. In a small bowl, mix melted butter, sugar and graham cracker crumbs until moist, then press about 1/2-1 tablespoon of crumbs into the bottom of each liner.

In a large bowl, whisk egg and sugar together until combined and no lumps remain. Add in vanilla extract and butter, then whisk in sweet potato. Add in flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg, then add in milk and stir until combined and smooth. Drop about 1/4 cup of batter on top of each graham cracker crust. Bake for 15-17 minutes, or until cupcakes are set and spring back at the touch. Let cool completely before frosting.

To make frosting: beat butter in the bowl of electric mixer until creamy. Add in fluff and beat for 2-3 minutes, then add in vanilla extract. With the mixer on low speed, add in powdered sugar 1 cup at a time until fully incorporated. Once all the sugar has been added, beat on medium-high speed for 2-3 minutes. If mixture if too runny, add a bit more sugar. If it’s too thick, add a bit of milk one teaspoon at a time. Frost cupcakes and enjoy!


  1. This is sadie. you people are so funny.

  2. and your cupcakes look so yummy