I don’t know if you cooked a little or a lot for Thanksgiving (or maybe not at all), but were you like me wishing even a little that everyone would eat a bit more slowly? I mean, that’s a lot of cooking just to be inhaled in less than 30 minutes. I whispered to my husband during dinner, “please slow down the pace a little.” And it’s not just Thanksgiving day that I wish wouldn’t fly by. I would have loved to relax and enjoy the weekend a little more. But the holiday energy can be kind of overwhelming. Regardless, I had a really nice few days with my family, including my daughter who was home from college. She actually was my assistant for the KTLA segment on Friday morning. So sweet.
I almost posted these delicious sweet potato muffins last week, but I just couldn’t swing it. Even though I have been making them for years during every season, I just realized that they would be a good vehicle for leftover sweet potato casserole. They would also be delicious for a brunch, breakfast or after school snack. My kids all love them, as does my husband who is not much of a sweet potato guy, but doesn’t seem to notice here. I am a big sweet potato pusher with the family since they are incredibly nutritious. They are so so rich in antioxidants, and so versatile. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve probably noticed I even eat sweet potatoes for breakfast with a drizzle of almond butter and whatever fruit is in season. Of course, they make great baked fries, are terrific in stews, stir-fried and roasted. I love them.
When I taught these in my breakfast class a few years ago, I made lots of improvisations. The most popular was adding chopped, cooked turkey bacon to the mix! I’m not big on bacon, but it was the most popular variation that month. Smoky, salty bacon is pretty perfect with the sweetness of sweet potatoes and the dried fruit. As you know I am a huge fan of dates, but sometimes I’ll use dried cherries, cranberries (so fall!), raisins, currants, or diced prunes (so underrated!) Once I added the zest of an orange which was a nice change. Otherwise, these are a lightly sweetened, almost dense muffin with fragrant spices and little nuggets of dried fruit and ginger. Heaven.
I think most muffins are best the day they are made, these included. But they also freeze well, individually wrapped in plastic wrap and stored in a container or a resealable bag. One variation I haven’t tried yet is to make this into a loaf or in a cake pan and cut into squares. I’ll try that next. But not too soon since apparently I’m already behind on my holiday shopping. Jeez.
- 2 small sweet potatoes or one medium sweet potato, about ¾ pound total
- Dry mix:
- 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
- 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon fine grain sea salt
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon allspice
- 6 large Medjool dates, pitted and finely chopped or ¾ cup dried fruit, like raisins
- ¼ cup diced crystallized ginger
- 8 pieces of turkey bacon, cooked and chopped (optional)
- 1 cup buttermilk
- ½ cup plain whole yogurt
- 4 Tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter (cold or room temp)
- ½ cup pure maple syrup (Grade A or Grade B) or coconut sugar or sucanat
- 1 large egg
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and roast the sweet potato for 1 to 1 ½ hours, depending on their size, until they are tender when pierced with a fork. The bottoms should be dark, even burnt-looking, and the juices beginning to caramelize. Set aside to cool, then peel and leave whole.
- Lower the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12 –cup muffin tin with unbleached parchment liners.
- Combine the dry ingredients into a large bowl. Add chopped dates, ginger and bacon (if using) and mix until coated.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and yogurt.
- Add the butter and sugar (or maple syrup) to the bowl of a standing mixer. Attach the paddle and mix on high speed until the butter and sugar are light and creamy, about 3 minutes. (If using maple syrup, mixture will be lumpy.)
- Using a spatula, scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the egg and half of the sweet potato and mix on medium speed for about 1 minute, until thoroughly combined. Again, scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- On low speed, so the flour doesn’t go flying everywhere, add the dry ingredients and mix until partly combined. Add the buttermilk mixture and mix until combined. Add the remaining sweet potato and mix until barely combined. You want to see pieces of sweet potato in the mix.
- Scoop batter into muffins cups (an ice cream scoop does a good job of this.)
- Bake for 35-40 minute or until tops of the muffins spring back when pressed. Take muffins out of tin and place on a rack to cool. Best when served warm.