Wednesday, September 23, 2009

My Entry - Chic Cupcake Challenge

Ladies and gentlemen, may I present to you my entry for the VERY FIRST EVER Chic Cupcake Challenge:

**drumroll please...**

Sweet Potato Cream Cheese Cupcake with Marshmallow Frosting

OK, wait, inside shot:

CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?? How amazing is that? The whole concept came today when I was working on fall flavors to incorporate into a cupcake. Naturally, my go-to fall flavor is pumpkin. I really, really feel like I can't go wrong with pumpkin (At least pumpkin in the sweet sense. Savory pumpkin is a whole 'nother monkey).

With my favorite pumpkin cupcake recipe in hand I set out to tweak it a little to give it some oomph. When I got home and looked in the fridge at an open can of pumpkin that I'd used a couple weeks ago, though, I got the heebie jeebies. No, the pumpkin wasn't fuzzy, it wasn't a creepy color, and it hadn't yet reached a sentient state. Nonetheless, the pumpkin just kinda looked at me funny and I thought to myself: If I'm going to go through all the trouble of testing a bunch of these cupcakes, I'm going to do it right.

So I set out for the store. In the back of my mind I recalled an article that I had just read today in fact about how there's a pumpkin shortage due to bad weather on the east coast. Little did I know, though, that they weren't exaggerating! I went to FOUR DIFFERENT STORES and found approximately zero pumpkin. Oh, wait, if I count that one store... ok... carry the one... multiply by pi... aaaaaaaand ZERO. Nada. Zilch. Niente. OK fine. No pumpkin.

I stood in the baking aisle for at least fifteen minutes trying to gain inspiration from boxed cake mixes. Flavors I came up with included cranberry, maple, pecan, and apple (I shudder at the last one as I am reminded of the fiasco involving my first attempt at Apple Pie Cupcakes. Ew.) I wasn't too excited about any of those, though, and I thought I might just have to throw in the towel.

The last store that I stopped at was Trader Joe's. There, a sales associate lead me to the inevitably empty spot where canned pumpkin would normally sit if it were in stock. He said it was more of a seasonal item for them so they'd probably get some once it got closer to Halloween. Little good that would do for me, though, as this contest is over on Saturday! I was about to trudge out of the aisle and go home dejected when I saw the canned pumpkin's neighbor: canned sweet potato. That was it! SWEET POTATO!! I couldn't believe I hadn't thought of that! Well, actually I could believe that because I'm not really the biggest fan of sweet potato but hey, it's sweet, right? I could make a cupcake out of that. I know plenty of people who make sweet things out of sweet potato. I snagged a can and went home to amend my pumpkin cupcake recipe to allow for the sweet potato.

I wasn't sure if I wanted to continue with the cream cheese center because I wasn't sure how it would go with the sweet potato. For testing purposes, I made some with and some without cream cheese. I pretty much knew which way I'd lean, though. As I've stated before, you can never go wrong with more cream cheese.
I decided on a marshmallow frosting because that seemed like the obvious choice to pair with a sweet potato. I mean, come on. Thanksgiving, anyone? That's where I ran into another glitch, though. I didn't want to do a cooked frosting; sure I have a candy thermometer and I could've easily gone that route, but I wanted something reminiscent of the sweet marshmallow topping on sweet potatoes from Thanksgiving dinner. That's when I realized I could make something from marshmallow fluff and top the cupcakes with that.

After a series of taste tests by members of the Cupcake Board, it was indeed determined that the cream cheese-filled cupcakes were superior to their filling-less sisters. As you can see from the below pictures, we take cupcake testing very seriously:
Executive Cupcake Analyst (aka Will, super-cute husband) steeling himself for another round of taste tests

Brian (aka the Beer Baron) approves of the cream cheese filling

This is where the magic all happened.

For anyone else who'd like to try these out, here's the recipe:

Sweet Potato Cream Cheese Cupcakes
(makes approximately 28)

1 1/2 sticks butter, room temperature
2/3 c. brown sugar
2 c. granulated sugar
4 eggs, room temperature
2 t. vanilla
dash ginger
2 t. baking soda
2/3 t. baking powder
2 t. salt
2 c. sweet potato puree (or 1-15 oz. can)
3 c. all-purpose flour
2/3 c. milk

Filling (adapted from black bottom cupcake recipe filling in "The Great Book of Chocolate" by David Leibowitz):
8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
1/3 c. granulated sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
1/2 t. vanilla extract

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Line cupcake tins with paper liners.
  3. Cream the butter and sugars on medium speed for 30 seconds.
  4. Add eggs, vanilla, ginger, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Mix until just combined.
  5. Add sweet potato puree. Mix again until just combined (I usually do this by hand to avoid over-beating).
  6. Alternate adding milk and flour, starting and ending with flour.
  7. Pour into cupcake tins using 1/4 c. measure.
  8. Bake for 20-23 minutes or until the cake part is springy and bounces back to your touch.
  9. Cool for as long as you can possibly stand before you have to eat one. Or five.

Marshmallow Frosting

(should frost the whole above batch)

1 stick butter
1-7 oz. jar marshmallow fluff
2 c. powdered sugar
1 t. vanilla

  1. Cream marshmallow fluff and butter for 30 seconds.
  2. Add powdered sugar and vanilla. Mix together until smooth.
  3. Revel in the sugary goodness before you.

*These recipes are of my own creation and/or tweaking. If you would like to use them, please reference where you found them! Thank you :)


  1. These sound great - sweet potato was a great idea. Although I had no idea that pumpkin and sweet potato came in tins? I'm not sure that they do in Australia.

    Can I ask you how you created your own recipe - do you start with a recipe base and go from there or are there some magic equations/ratios that I need to know?

  2. I know I haven't been able to get my hands on a can of pumpkin either!! And I'm in no mood to make pumpkin puree myself. Help!

    The cupcakes look delicious. I love sweet potato!

  3. YAY...those look AMAZING!!! I am so glad you entered the contest! I am going to upload pictures of the prizes on my dollface blog tonight...I got some good stuff!

  4. Red Deer:

    Haha! Do you have other canned food in Australia? Tomatoes? Veggies? That's too funny! I, like Paris Pastry, don't have the patience to make the puree myself. At least, not on a regular basis. Perhaps for special occasions?

    As for the recipes, for the most part, these are recipes that I tweaked. The actual cupcake part of the sweet potato cream cheese cupcake was from part of a recipe that I had for pumpkin bread. The cream cheese filling was from a black bottom cupcake recipe (I omitted the chocolate chips and, well, the black bottom cupcake), and for the frosting I just looked up a bunch of recipes both online and in cookbooks that I had and chose pieces from each that I liked. I really, really wanted to use my marshmallow fluff so it was key that whatever my final recipe was had to include that. I by no means have the cajones to attempt writing a recipe entirely and completely from scratch. Though I have the general concepts of the items necessary for baked goods and what job each ingredient performs, I too wouldn't know proper proportions and I feel like I would waste a lot of time (and supplies) figuring it out by trial-and-error. Perhaps that's something I'd need to take a class for!

  5. I love sweet potatoes and will definitely being trying these! They look fabulous!! I will be going on a pumpkin hunt this weekend because I have been craving pumpkin cookies. I'll let you know how it turns out :)

  6. This looks soooo good! I am going to have to try this on my family and see what happens. Thanks for the recipe and I am glad someone else entered the cupcake challenge!

  7. yay!! way to go girl and thanks for entering!! I am hoping to get my entry in tomorrow as well!! we will try to keep the contest open for one more week!! You and Suzi are neck in neck hehe xoxo

  8. The sweet potato is an absolutely awesome replacement for the pumpkin! I'd love to give these a try! ;P

  9. YOU are so funny! And very easy to get recipes out of.. Do you keep any secret?


  10. I heard that there is a pumpkin shortage this year. No really, I'm serious! That's probably why you couldn't find your pumpkin. I know I'm bummed... I love all things pumpkin!

  11. Yum! I love the creative use of sweet potato, the fondant leaf, and you totally hooked me with that lucious cream cheese filling. If I weren't a co-contestant, you'd definitely have my vote! Best of luck to you and warm regards, Jenn @