Last weekend, one of my dear choir buddies married a lovable man in a simply gorgeous outdoor setting. So happy! They were having a cake buffet for dessert, and they asked me to provide one of the desserts! Would I ever! I was flattered and oh-so excited!
Since this was the couple who had the Iron Chef-themed “Battle Basil” wedding shower, I knew that not just any dessert would do. It had to be special. It had to be interesting. It had to appeal to their foodie tendencies and give them something to talk about.
I searched high and low for a dessert that would fit the bill, plus one that would be easy to eat outdoors and easy to make in a fairly large quantity. Of course, this led me to cupcakes.
And, eventually, this led me to Bourbon Sweet Potato Cupcakes.
Bourbon? Sweet Potatoes? Yes and yes.
These are FANTASTIC. They are moist, not-too-sweet, sophisticated looking, and with a subtle hint of booziness that I think make them irresistible.
Here they are, in all their glory:
All lined up like little soldiers!
Bourbon Sweet Potato Cupcakes, adapted from bakerella
Mm mm MM! I love these (and I DON’T love bourbon!). These are a bit of a labor of love, so give yourself some time. I wanted them to be as boozy as possible, so I added a bourbon-simple syrup glaze and substituted bourbon for vanilla where possible. Also, I don’t have a deep fryer, so I improvised on the pecans, and they turned out lovely (but addictive like crack, so be careful!). Using two wrappers is useful — one for baking, one for the finished product — since both the glaze and the icing tend to drip. Eating tip: warm them up before you eat them! 20 seconds in the microwave does it. Something about the warmth brings out the flavor of the bourbon and makes them oh-so much better (which is saying a lot, because they are dang good to start with!). YUM!
For the wedding, I made a double batch, but I’ll just give you single batch numbers here. I found it made about 21-22 cupcakes — you want these puppies to bake up nice and tall and rounded!
1 1/2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
1/3 cup butter, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup whole milk
1 cup cooked sweet potatoes (one large potato will give you this quantity. I microwaved mine because it was dang hot outside, but you could also bake or boil them.)
1/3 cup bourbon
Preheat oven to 350. Line cupcakes trays with baking cups and lightly spray with cooking spray.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice, and salt. Set aside.
In another large bowl, beat brown sugar, butter, and eggs until fluffy. Add sweet potato and vanilla, mix well. The batter will be lumpy, but that’s ok… it ends up beautiful. Add ingredients in the following order and stir to combine after each addition: 1/3 of the flour mixture, bourbon, 1/3 of the flour mixture, milk, last 1/3 of the flour mixture.
Fill baking cups about 3/4 of the way full. Bake 12-15 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool completely. While they are cooling, make the candied pecans.
pecan halves (make sure you have extras, because you will DEFINITELY want to snack on these!
1 cup sugar + more for dusting
1 cup water
Add sugar, water, and pecans to a pot. Bring to a simmer, and then keep simmering for six minutes. Strain pecans out of the syrup.
Pour a good amount of canola oil in a frying pan. It should be deep enough so that your pecans can be submerged. Heat oil so that water splatters like crazy when you flick some drips in it (scientific, I know!). Test fry a pecan — if it doesn’t really work, keep heating the oil.
Fry pecans (I did this in batches) until the frying noise lessons a LOT — it took mine about a minute, but it will vary depending on the temperature of your oil. Immediately strain out pecans, put them on parchment paper, and dust liberally with sugar. I dusting several times until the sugar stopped soaking up oil — this made the pecans sparkly and pretty!
Allow to dry and cool completely.
3 tbsp bourbon
1/4 cup sugar
Mix bourbon and sugar together well. Poke four holes in the top of each cupcakes with a bamboo skewer (or cake tester, or large toothpick… whatever you have!). Brush simple syrup LIBERALLY on top using a pastry brush.
2 cups sifted confectioner’s sugar
1 tbsp butter, room temperature
1 tsp bourbon
3-4 Tbsps milk
Mix sugar and butter together. Add bourbon. Add milk 1 tbsp as a time until you get the desired consistency. It should not be TOO thin — it should coat the back of a spoon when you dunk it in. I ended up using just over 3 tbsp.
Put glaze in a small, deep bowl. Dip the tops of the cupcakes in it, and then set them aside to dry. The icing needs to cool completely before you can move to the next step — putting them in the fridge for a bit can help move things along.
1 1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1 tsp butter
2 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp bourbon
1/2 cup sifted confectioner’s sugar
2 tbsp milk
In a small saucepan, bring sugar and water to a boil. Boil for five minutes, then add remaining ingredients. It will foam like crazy — you are warned! Cook until mixture is a syrupy consistency. I had to take it off the heat and let the foam dissipate a few times to check the consistency — no adverse affects!
Remove saucepan from heat and transfer mixture to a small, deep bowl. Let cool for a minute, then add 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar and 2 tbsp milk. Let cool until it reaches a thicker consistency than the bourbon glaze (I put it in the fridge for a couple minutes and took it out when the top started getting a very thin crust).
Now, get ready to work FAST! Dip the top of a cupcake into the icing, but not as deep as the glaze so that you can see both (see the photo — it will make sense!). Immediately place a candied pecan on top. Repeat for all cupcakes, then let sit until icing has hardened.
Voila! A multi-stepped labor of love indeed, but oh-so delicious!