Sweet Potato Cupcakes

Sweet Potato Cupcakes
Who was the first person that decided putting marshmallows on a potato was a good idea? I wouldn’t mind having dinner with them. Well, curiosity got the best of me as it usually does so I decided to do some research. Like it or not, it is time for a history lesson as we dig into this recipe for sweet potato cupcakes with toasted marshmallow topping.

There are records in American cookbooks as early at the 1700’s featuring sweet potato casserole topped with meringue. Adding marshmallows came around 1919 when a marshmallow producer hired a marketer to develop recipes that would embrace the sweet treat as an everyday ingredient. Fun fact: Engagement rings were also the result of a very successful advertising campaign.

So now that you are disillusioned about that symbol of everlasting love on your ring finger, let’s turn that frown upside down with some festive cupcakes.

I roasted an extra sweet potato. I was going to have it as a snack, but these cupcakes are so nice you’ll make them twice.

We never had sweet potato casserole on our Thanksgiving table growing up. This could have something to do with my fixation of these cupcakes.

They offer everything you want in a Thanksgiving inspired cupcake. Cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, something orange, and maple pecans roasting on an open fire (or electric burner).



Sweet Potato Cupcakes

To quote the 1500’s English botanist, John Gerard, the sweet potato “comforts, strengthens, and nourishes the body.” So let us depart with these wise words of inspiration and get to baking!

Sweet Potato Cupcakes with Toasted Marshmallow Topping

Yield: 12 cupcakes


    For the cupcakes:
  • 1 pound (about 1 large) sweet potato, scrubbed
  • 1 cup (125 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick, 113 grams) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (100 grams) dark brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • About 1 and 1/2 cups mini marshmallows
  • For the maple candied pecans:
  • 1/2 cup pecans, roughly chopped and lightly toasted
  • 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup
  • Pinch of salt


  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Pierce sweet potato with a fork and place on parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for about one hour or until completely soft when poked and juices start to seep from potato. Remove from oven. Drop oven temperature to 325 degrees F.
  2. While potato cools, line a standard sized muffin tin with paper liners. Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. When potato is cool enough to handle, slice in half lengthwise and scrape flesh from skin into a small bowl. Discard skin. Mash potato with fork until smooth. You should have just about 1 cup (or 9 and ½ oz, 270 grams). Don’t use more than this or your cupcakes will be too dense.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter on medium-high speed until light and fluffy (about 1 minute). Add both sugars and continue beating an additional 3 minutes until well combine and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating on medium speed until fully incorporated. Scrape bowl as needed. Beat in mashed potatoes and vanilla. Reduce speed to low and slowly add flour in three batches, mixing until completely incorporated after each batch.
  4. Divide batter evenly among lined cups three-quarters full. Bake for 25-28 minutes. Cool completely on rack before removing from tin.
  5. While cupcakes cool, make the candied pecans (I used their equally delicious cousin, the walnut, this time). In a small skillet, heat pecans, brown sugar, water, maple syrup, and salt on medium heat until bubbling. Stir frequently for about 5 minutes or until the sugar begins to smell caramelized. Turn out evenly onto a Silpat or nonstick surface. Let cool. Break into pieces.
  6. Top cupcakes with marshmallows. If you have a small brulee torch on hand, pile up the marshmallows on the cupcakes (eat all runaway mallows) and torch to perfection. Top with candied pecans. If you don't have a torch, create small mounds on a baking sheet and pop under the broiler until toasty. Transfer to cupcakes with spatula, top with pecans. Devour. Store cupcakes for up to 3 days at room temperature. They are best served the day they are topped. Try baking ahead for Thanksgiving and freeze (without marshmallow topping) for up to 3 months in an airtight container.

Tips for perfect cupcakes:

Don’t add more potato that what is called for. Yes it may be tempting to add that last little chunk, but sprinkle some brown sugar on it and eat it instead. The gluten will not develop as well and you will end up with a dense, mashed potato-y excuse for a cupcake.

When choosing cupcake liners for this recipe, I found that using foil baking cups lined with paper worked best if you are using a torch to toast the mallows. They don’t catch on fire as much, which according to my family who is always concerned for my safety, is the better direction to go.

Don’t store in ziplock bags. You may think it is a good idea until the bag holds on to your marshmallows like a child with a new puppy. These cupcakes are so moist that they can be left out for several days and still taste great.

Roast extra sweet potatoes. They oven is on. You might as well. Chances are you will make this recipe again in a few days when the cupcakes have all disappeared quicker than turkeys on a turkey farm in November. It is also never a bad thing to have a roasted sweet potato on hand for a quick healthy snack or to add to your dinner. If you decide to use leftover potatoes for another batch, make sure they are warm! If not, your butter will seize and turn into a clumpy mess.

Finally, use fresh marshmallows. Since all you are doing is giving them a quick toast, the last thing you want to bite into is a tough, chewy mallow.

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