A healthy muffin with a sweet (potato) side
When I told my mother — a fiend for candied ginger — that I was testing a batch of these muffins, she said she wished she could fly right over and dig in. She's not the only one.
There's just something about the combination of sweet potatoes and sweet spices that makes us happy. Every time my grandmother Ruth made her signature spice balls — wonderfully chewy cookies filled with every possible sweet spice — all the grandkids wafted into the kitchen from miles away.
These muffins start with cooked sweet potatoes, which not only provide great flavor and sugar, but also a tempting moistness. Slowly baking sweet potatoes in the oven intensifies their sweetness. For expediency, we chose to microwave them for this recipe. But if you'd rather do it the old fashioned (and tastier) way, plan to bake them for 1 to 1 1⁄2 hours at 400 degrees.
However you cook them, consider making extra. You can freeze the pulp for future batches of muffins. And I don't bother to puree the potatoes; I just mash them. It leaves the texture slightly and pleasantly chunky.
By the way, if you're wondering about the difference between sweet potatoes and yams, don't expend much energy on it. In the United States, just about anything labeled a yam (or a sweet potato) is just a sweet potato. True yams, a staple of the Caribbean diet, are rough-skinned, starchy and not very sweet. The vegetable we love at Thanksgiving — and the right potato for this recipe — is the true sweet potato.
Although there still are plenty of die-hard devotees of white flour, I have snuck some whole-wheat flour into this recipe because it is a healthier choice. And the finished muffin's golden color will camouflage the whole-wheat flour. As a practical matter, when a baking recipe calls for white flour, you can almost always swap out half of it for whole wheat with little effect on the color, taste or texture of the finished product.
Another important player in this recipe is buttermilk, one of my favorite ingredients, especially for baking. I like buttermilk's creaminess and its tang. And, contrary to the impression made by its luxurious texture, it's actually very low in fat. Buttermilk is a great item to keep in the fridge; you can use up any extra by adding it to smoothies.
Finally, these bad boys are topped off with some chopped, crystallized ginger (also called candied ginger). But if for some reason you're not a fan, you can top these with the chopped nut of your choice. Just don't tell my mother.
Chef Sara Moulton is a contributing writer to the Associated Press
Sweet Potato Buttermilk Muffins With Candied Ginger Topping
White whole-wheat flour is available in the baking aisle of most grocers. It has all the nutrition of regular whole-wheat flour, but it is made from a different variety of wheat that produces a flour with a lighter taste, texture and color.
Start to finish: 1 hour (30 minutes active)
3⁄4 to 1 pound sweet potatoes (2 small or 1 medium)
1 1⁄2 cups buttermilk
1 cup white whole-wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1⁄2 teaspoon baking soda
1⁄2 teaspoon table salt
1⁄2 teaspoon nutmeg, preferably freshly ground
1⁄4 teaspoon ground allspice
1⁄4 cup ( 1⁄2 stick) butter, room temperature
1⁄4 cup granulated sugar
1⁄4 cup packed dark-brown sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1⁄2 cup chopped crystallized ginger
Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper cupcake liners or lightly spray the cups with cooking spray.
Prick the sweet potatoes several places with a knife. Microwave on high (or on the baked potato setting) until tender, for about 10 minutes. Let cool, then peel and, in a medium-size bowl, mash with a fork. You should have about 1 1⁄4 cups of mashed sweet potato. Mix in the buttermilk, then set aside.
Meanwhile, in a medium-size bowl, stir together both flours, the baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg and allspice.
In another medium-size bowl, combine the butter and both sugars. Use an electric mixer to beat until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Using a spatula, scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the egg and vanilla, then mix on medium speed for about 1 minute, until thoroughly combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Add half the flour mixture and beat the batter on low speed just until the mixture is partly mixed. Add half the buttermilk-sweet potato mixture and mix until combined. Add the remaining dry ingredients and mix until just combined, then mix in the remaining buttermilk mixture.
Divide the batter among the prepared muffin cups. Top it with the crystallized ginger and bake on the middle rack of the oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the tops are golden and a toothpick inserted at the center comes out clean. Remove the muffins from the pan and tip on their sides on a cooling rack; this prevents the bottoms from getting soggy. Let cool 10 minutes before serving. They are best eaten while still hot.
Makes 12 muffins.
Nutrition information per serving: 180 calories (45 calories from fat), 5 grams fat (3 grams saturated), 30 milligrams cholesterol, 4 grams protein, 29 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams dietary fiber, 240 milligrams sodium
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Ex-Penguins defenseman Niskanen still miffed by coaches’ firings
- Starkey: Chryst a miserable failure at Pitt
- New York farmers lament lost opportunity for gas riches
- Banged-up Steelers can clinch with win over Chiefs
- Energy sector adjusts to global oil plummet
- Police investigate alleged institutional sexual assault at Pine youth treatment center
- Warning about cop-killer came moments too late
- U.S. coal mines nearing record low in worker deaths
- Pitt football fights to overcome steppingstone status
- Kids treated to gifts, peaceful holiday party at Lincoln-Lemington church
- Pitt players support Rudolph for job