The greatest food debate in Jewish cuisine and possibly the greatest Jewish debate of all time (though that’s debatable) is whether the passover matzoh balls should be sinkers or floaters. My family traditionally always served both kinds, each grandma at the table making up a batch that her mishpacha would most enjoy.
My mother-in-law who had served rock hard, you-need-a-fork-and-knife-to-eat-them, sinkers before me has now also switched to a combination of sinkers and floaters. Goodbye, conflict.
There is a less documented though equally pervasive debate surrounding the Thanksgiving sweet potato casserole. Some like their casserole topped with marshmallows, while others (myself included in this second camp) prefer a sugary nut topping. Who needs white mush when you have sweet orange mush? What you need is crunch!
My all time favorite sweet potato casserole is the one my mother-in-law makes. I like it hot or cold and with a fork, a spoon, or hands. The recipe is at the bottom of this post.
The truth is, I like sweet potatoes in all formats. I like them so much that my brother even mentioned them in his wedding toast to me.
I’ve been plotting to make a sweet potato cupcake for months. This month was the time. Garrett of Vanilla Garlic and Chockylit of Cupcake Bakeshop are hosting a cupcake roundup with the theme of a classic dish redefined. I decided to model my cupcake after the sweet potato casserole.
I wanted to impart some of my favorite casserole flavors into the cupcake (brown sugar and maple syrup). I opted for the sweet potato flavor in the cake, a maple mascarpone filling, and a brown sugar frosting.
The results? This cupcake was light and fluffy (I had to point this out for those who didn’t like my last two super dense ones) and tasted like Fall in a cupcake wrapper. I would not hesitate to serve this to my family at Thanksgiving dinner or any other day for that matter.
I got the cake recipe from a Cupcake Bakeshop recipe for pumpkin cupcakes (reposted below). She got the recipe from Martha Stewart. I simply replaced the pumpkin with mashed sweet potato. I went the lazy route and got my sweet potato from a can. However, I’m sure you could make your own.
- 2 cups flour, all-purpose
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1 cup packed light-brown sugar
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 15 ounces sweet potato puree
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice; set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together, brown sugar, granulated sugar, butter, and eggs. Add dry ingredients, and whisk until smooth. Whisk in sweet potato purée.
- Divide batter evenly among liners, filling each about halfway. Bake until tops spring back when touched, and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes, rotating pans once if needed. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool.
- Note: These cupcakes really do rise well. I filled some more than 1/2 way and they ended up bubbling over in the oven. I’d follow the instructions and just fill 1/2 way.
For the filling, I simply whipped together 8 oz of mascarpone cheese with 2 T of pure maple syrup. When the cupcakes were done baking, I stuck the pastry bag right into the center of the cupcake and squirted some filling in. This, BTW, is much easier than the cone method (cutting out a cone, putting the filling in, and replacing the top) and it’s more sexy, too. However, it does not work well with dense cupcakes.
I used another one of Chockylit’s top-notch recipes for the frosting (reposted below). She used a caramel frosting on her “Peanut Butter-Banana Chocolate Cupcakes with Caramel Glaze and a Caramelized Banana Disk.” I’ve had these cupcakes before at a friend’s house minus the peanut butter, since I’m not a fan, and they were awesome! My favorite part though was the caramel frosting. This was the perfect cupcake for me to try it out on.
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 4 tablespoons half and half
- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter.
- Add milk and brown sugar, stir to combine.
- Boil vigorously for 1 minute.
- Remove from heat and beat in 1/2 cup powdered sugar.
- Cool slightly then and beat in the vanilla and remaining powdered sugar, add more half in half if necessary.
- Quickly spoon over cupcakes before glaze sets.
I did not add the additional half and half on step 5. I think I would if I did it again. It definitely did not spoon well without it. I ended up spreading it. Regardless, it was delish and I will use it again!
What’s On Top?
To please both the marshmallow and the nut camps and because I can’t use nuts at the wedding, I made some cupcakes with toasted mini marshmallows (any excuse to use my culinary torch!) and some with candied walnuts.
Nancy’s Sweet Potato Casserole Recipe
- 2 lb. sweet potatoes
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 tsp Vanilla
- ½ cup flour
- 2 eggs
- ¼ cup margarine
- ¼ tsp salt
- Peel, cut, boil sweet potatoes until soft.
- Mix everything together and put into 9 X 12 greased pan.
Top with a mixture of:
- ½ cup brown sugar
- ½ cup chopped pecans
- ¼ cup margarine
- ¼ cup flour
Double topping for Stefani*
Bake at 350° for 30 to 40 min.
*That is actually in the recipe she sent. Isn’t she sweet?
For those astute readers among you, you may note that Nancy’s casserole does not contain any maple syrup, my cupcake filling flavor. Many sweet potato casseroles do, including this recipe from a fellow St. Louis blogger.
I’m done justifying my use of maple now. Does maple ever really need justification anyway?
Some final words on sweet potato casseroles: My Texas friend, and fellow sweet potato casserole fanatic, makes an outstanding one which uses Bourbon. A sweet potato and bourbon cupcake would also be sensational. I’m adding it to the lengthy to-bake list in my mind.