cinnamon | cupcakes | decorations | desserts | frosting | holiday | marshmallow | potatoes | recipe | seasonal | spices | sweet potato | thanksgiving | traditional with a twist | vanilla


November 23, 2011

I’ve been hearing about sweet potato cupcakes for a few years now. Retro Bakery in Las Vegas features a Candied Yam cupcake every Thanksgiving season, and seeing how I follow them on Twitter, I kinda salivate each time they’re pictured or mentioned. I don’t actually like sweet potatoes, but I do like sweet potato fries and when there’s marshmallow on anything it’s probably gonna be delicious. So sweet potato cupcakes with toasted marshmallow-y frosting? Sign me up, baby. My friend Sami made a version of sweet potato cupcakes from Better Homes & Gardens with a chocolate syrup-type frosting & she wasn’t a fan, but I thought I’d try this version anyway. After all, I’d had it saved & waiting to be used for almost a year.

See here’s the deal: I don’t just bake or make edible stuff for Thanksgiving or Christmas. My mixer isn’t pulled out for the holidays then covered up again for another year; she’s in a place of honor where she belongs. I always have a variety of flours & sugars, not to mention honey, sprinkles, buttermilk and unsalted butter in the house at all times. I’ve got cookie cutters that are discolored & well-worn, not brand new & shiny. I have baking pans & cookie sheets out the ass, most of which have seen better days. I have plastic bins overflowing with muffin & cupcake liners for every day of the week let alone season. I have Mason jars & lids stashed everywhere & there’s liquid pectin in my fridge. I’m a full-on, from-scratch baker/cook/canner, 12 months out of the year. I make time to bake & make homemade food & confections every week, because it’s not only enjoyable but also because it’s important to me. It keeps me happy, well-fed and most importantly sane. So I have recipes bookmarked (both on Firefox & literally bookmarked in books), earmarked, cut-out of magazines & taped to notebooks, some even stored in the “notes” section on my iPhone. They’re everywhere. I get them in e-mails from family members, on Facebook, on Twitter (or I should say via Twitter, since fitting a recipe in 140 characters is kinda hard) and more. Both virtual copies & hard copies. They’re stashed all over my house from the bedroom to the kitchen to the living room. I have notes on the calendar about them, memos in my phone about them, and reminders on my laptop. I spend my spare moments before I fall asleep searching the internet for things like whiskey-pickle recipes or unique ways to use up dried cranberries. Insane? No. It’s entirely possible that people who don’t do that are far more insane than I am. Because of the fact that it keeps me sane.

Anyway while I bake a lot, and make a lot of cupcakes… I wanted to make an extra special batch of cupcakes for this Thanksgiving, and I do think these fit the bill. I toasted the frosting & I think that just adds to it. Of course, I can’t have one yet because they’re all for tomorrow- but I tasted some batter & OH MY GOD. I don’t even like sweet potatoes & that’s some good shit.

Jay will be home from Texas for turkey day, too, which is an added bonus. I’m picking him up from La Guardia in a couple of hours, after a long day of baking & packing up food. Mi familia will be together tomorrow & stuff our faces full of that food, & that’s just the way it should be. This Thanksgiving is the first one I’m, or we’re, celebrating without my grandma. It’s rough, and I know Christmas will be tougher still. But she wouldn’t want me to complain or be sad. She loved the holidays, & so I’m doing my best to celebrate her memory as well as each holiday. This Thanksgiving we’ll all raise our glasses of wine & toast to Aggie, and of course Uncle Pat, and at the same time be thankful for all we do have & that includes family, and of course for me it includes these two sweet little faces…




  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup canned whole sweet potatoes (unsweetened), mashed
  • ¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract


  1. Preheat oven to 350° degrees F. Line twelve 2 ½-inch muffin cups with paper bake cups; set cups aside.
  2. In medium bowl stir together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, nutmeg and salt; set aside.
  3. In large mixing bowl beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add sugar and beat on high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating on low speed after each addition until combined. Add sweet potatoes and vanilla, beating until combined. Add flour mixture; beat until combined (batter will be thick).
  4. Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups. Bake about 20 minutes or until tops spring back when lightly touched. Cool in pan on wire rack for 1 minute. Remove from pan and cool completely.



Makes about 4 cups, plenty of frosting for 12-18, possibly even 24 cupcakes, depending on how high you frost!


  • ¾ cups plus 1 tablespoon sugar
  • ⅓ cup water
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • 3 large egg whites, room temperature


  1. Combine ¾ cup sugar with the water and corn syrup in a small saucepan; clip a candy thermometer to side of pan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves. Continue boiling, without stirring, until syrup reaches 230° degrees.
  2. Meanwhile, in the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk egg whites on medium-high speed until soft peaks form. With mixer running, add remaining tablespoon sugar, beating to combine.
  3. As soon as sugar syrup reaches 230° degrees, remove from heat. With mixer on medium-low speed, pour syrup down side of bowl in a slow, steady stream. Raise speed to medium-high; whisk until mixture is completely cool (test by touching the bottom of the bowl) and stiff (but not dry) peaks form, about 7 minutes. Use immediately.

Just remember: you really do need a stand mixer for this frosting. Unless you have Incredible Hulk muscles & don’t mind standing there beating egg whites until stiff for possibly 15-20 minutes or more and then beating the hot frosting itself for 7+ minutes by hand. However, you can make a marshmallow frosting using Fluff that’s awesome too, and tastes similar (a bit sweeter) & can be toasted as well.

And of course I boxed them up in Bake-A-Box boxes. The liners are greaseproof natural, unbleached liners from Layer Cake Shop. I bought the fall leaves from Sugar Robot on Etsy. They’re paper… but they’re edible! How awesome is that?! Supposedly they taste like vanilla. We’ll see. Oh, and those other cupcakes are cinnamon-vanilla (recipe here) with a vanilla frosting in plain white liners for the finicky among us who perhaps won’t eat the sweet potato cupcakes. These have little vintage-inspired turkey toppers on ’em.

Anyway, I hope you all have a wonderful day tomorrow, even those of you who don’t celebrate it for whatever reason. Enjoy your friends & families, & pets. I hope that you’ll consider a donation to help feed someone who can’t feed themselves tomorrow, or if you’re able to you’ll volunteer at a shelter or food bank or soup kitchen. But at the very, very least, please make a $5 or $10 donation to the ONE campaign, Feeding America, Meals on Wheels, or Share Our Strength. Please think about those less fortunate than you, when you’re “counting your blessings” tomorrow.



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  1. beautiful cupcakes!!!! I love those leaves! AND the turkeys! they look amazing.

    I did a sweet potato cupcake recipe (it was a better homes & gardens recipe, i wonder if it was the same one your friend used) and while i liked the cupcake because it was moist and flavorful in a vanilla/buttery way, the sweet potato flavor was very, very subtle. I would have liked it to be a bit stronger, but it was still a very good cupcake.

    And now I’m off to check out those greaseproof liners… A nice alternative to using foil!

  2. Thanks Mandee! I thought they came out pretty awesome, they were fairly moist too. The next day a little less so, but the flavor of sweet potato was definitely there as far as I was concerned. I think the next day all cupcakes are less moist, though, right? And so on…

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