Monday, November 28, 2011

My Thanksgiving/Sweet Potato Bonanza

I know I've mentioned how much I love pumpkin.  But have I mentioned how much I also love sweet potatoes?  They're pretty much siblings (or really close cousins) flavor-wise.  And if you put them in baked goods they pretty much give off the same delicious, comfort-food, autumn flavor. 

I have a confession.  I can eat pumpkin straight from the can.  Not that I do that.  Often.  I could probably also eat a raw sweet potato.  You think I'm kidding.  I haven't tried it, but I probably will.  And it will probably be weird.  Anyway...

Thanksgiving with my family is usually a 30+ person affair.  I had to work last year on Thanksgiving and spent the evening with friends, so I was pumped for this year's festivities WAY in advance (like in September).  I am so lucky to have a great family and a bazillion friends who are like family to us.  We always just have the most fun, eccentric, crazy, super-fun mishmash of people at our Thanksgivings.  This year though, it was a bit smaller.  Only 8 people (two of whom were British!  I love them!).  My Uncle Pete's parents (who are in their 90's) are snowbirds and are always here for Thanksgiving.  They weren't this year; they stayed in Oregon.  Uncle Pete's mom ALWAYS bakes the pies/desserts.  ALWAYS.  She gets real cranky if someone else does it.  (Hey, at 92, I'd say she's entitled).  Well, since they weren't here this year- guess who was in charge of desserts?!?!?! 

When I found out who the 8 people in attendance would be, it dawned on me that the only people there who really cared about dessert were Aunt Peggy and me.  Hmmph.  So I decided to be a little non-traditional this year and make cupcakes for dessert.  I was afraid just cupcakes wouldn't be enough (since we usually have more pies than PEOPLE at Thanksgiving.  Really, that's happened more than once...), but it was the perfect ending to the best meal of the year.  Our British friends also brought a homemade apple pie with custard cream.  Oh garsh.  I think I ate more of that pie than I did sweet potatoes.  Amazing.  And even better the next morning for breakfast. 

I know I've tooted her horn before, but I have to say one of my favorite blogs is How Sweet It Is.  This girl just gets it.  She's a kindred spirit- one who doesn't think ANYTHING is too rich.  Just like me.  So when I was browing through blogs a couple weeks before Thanksgiving, I found her recipe for Sweet Potato Pie Cupcakes with Marshmallow Frosting.  Now reading the blog, they sounded good, and definitely got a star in my Google Reader.  But it wasn't until I got to the last picture in the post (go to the link and look) that I almost ate my computer screen.  I HAD to make these.  And I did.  And they were fabulous.  I didn't change a thing.  They're super-amazing straight out of the oven.  I baked these on Wednesday.  Aunt Peggy ate one still warm and just got a spoonful of frosting straight out of the bowl and slathered it on.  And then she got up before me on Thursday and decided to have one for breakfast.  But she didn't just unwrap and eat.  Oh no.  She broke the cupcake in half, flipped the top over (so the icing was smooshed in the middle), and microwaved it for 30 seconds.  She's crazy (and this is where I get it from, people).  Holy Jesus.  This is THE way to eat these cupcakes.  I had a couple leftover that I brought home and that's exactly how I ate them.  The frosting melts and drizzles down the sides of the cupcake in sort of a glaze...oh dear heavens.  They're amazing either way.  Make them.
Check out the adorable cupcake wrappers I found at Michael's!

Sweet Potato Cupcakes with Marshmallow Frosting
makes 12 cupcakes

Graham Crust
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/2 tsp sugar

1 1/3 cups loosely packed brown sugar
1 large egg
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
6 oz cooked, mashed sweet potato (about 1 medium sweet potato)
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup milk

1.  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.

2.  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.

Marshmallow Buttercream Frosting

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups marshmallow fluff
3 cups powdered sugar
1-2 tsp milk, if needed

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. 

I got a new humongo star-tip for piping icing.  Love it!  And aren't my cupcake photographing skills getting better?? Ali would be proud ;)

Sweet potato bonanza part 2- coming up next.  Sans photos (listen to me, I think I'm French after making that Sans Rival cake).  I was so busy cooking for 2 days that I forgot to take photos of everything else.  Look at Aunt Peggy's poor kitchen.  That's just one countertop.  Disaster.  She always makes fun of me for how messy I am.  But hey: I had a LOT to cook, THANKYOUVERYMUCH.

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