I’ve been smitten with sweet potatoes for a long time, but I only recently began baking with them. Now that I have, I can readily and confidently say that if I never see another pumpkin dessert, I won’t mind at all. Anything pumpkins can do, sweet potatoes can do better.
Yes, they take a little effort to prepare for baking if you’re starting with raw sweet potatoes, but the same is true of pumpkins. Sweet potatoes have the same pleasant orange hue that, if anything, is brighter than that of pumpkins, and they take on all the spices of the season in an equally glorious way.
Some may argue that the stringiness of sweet potatoes is off-putting in desserts, and I can understand that. Fortunately, that sort of texture offense has never really bothered me, so to those folks, I say we’ll agree to disagree.
Sweet potato casserole is a Thanksgiving staple for many, and it often comes with marshmallows baked on top. Even if you’re adamantly against using marshmallows for that purpose, I think you’ll agree that they’re perfect in this capacity–frosting on these cupcakes.
I used the classic seven minute frosting and hit it (and the cupcake liners, as you can see…) with the blowtorch for a few milliseconds. If your kids are of an appropriate age, this is a really fun thing to do together in the kitchen! As a bonus, the finished product is a delight to consume.
Sweet Potato Casserole Cupcakes
Preheat oven to 400°F. Pierce sweet potatoes with a fork and place on a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet. Bake until completely soft and juices begin to seep from the potatoes and caramelize, about 1 hour. Reduce oven to 325°.
When cool enough to handle, slice potatoes in half lengthwise and use a fork to scrape the flesh from the skin into a bowl, discarding skins. Mash potato with fork until smooth. (You should have about 2 cups.)
Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and cloves. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter and both sugars until pale and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Beat in mashed sweet potatoes and vanilla. Reduce speed to low. Add the flour mixture in three batches, beating until completely incorporated after each.
Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until cupcakes are set and a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 28 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes.
To make the frosting, in the heatproof bowl of an electric mixer set over a saucepan of simmering water, combine sugar, corn syrup, ¼ cup water, and egg whites. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until mixture registers 160 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, about 2 minutes.
Attach bowl to a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat mixture on high speed until glossy and voluminous, about 5 minutes. Beat in vanilla. Use immediately. Brown with kitchen torch or broiler if desired.