I have always intentionally avoided trends. Something about making decisions with the sole purpose of fitting in has always repulsed me, even as a little girl. I could never grasp why specific name brands and styles were automatically equated to social status, and I refused to succumb to their strange power. Among a sea of middle school girls in dark wash American Eagle skinny jeans, Hollister blouses and Jack Rogers flip-flops, I proudly stood alone in my capris, Sketchers, and endless supply of infinity scarves, fighting for the lost cause of individuality. When spirit week came around each year and the masses didn’t dare venture into the realm of tacky day beyond mismatched socks –heaven forbid they were to look odd on TACKY day– I sported every patterned clothing item I could find in our household. The fact that I knowingly jeopardized any opportunity I had to experience the life of the “popular” kids was a price I was willing to pay: I was a dedicated craftsman, nonconformity my trade.
Though I’ve left behind the Sketchers and somewhat toned down the intensity with which I fight this battle,, my aversion to fads still persists. What’s more, it also conveniently fits hand-in-hand with my tendency towards being frugal. I scoff at overpriced products, finding repose among the beautiful bottom shelf of the grocery store because my wallet appreciates it…and also because I’m making an important stand against the evils of mob mentality, of course. While crowds of college-aged adults cling fast to the swerving societal bandwagon wearing their Apple watches and sipping their 4th Starbucks lattes of the week, you can find me on the other side of the street, munching contently on my ALDI-brand cheerios and calculating how to get my Walmart.com order above $30 so I’ll get free shipping. You could say my approach to promoting originality has adopted a more practical tenor, at least the majority of the time (I’ll admit I avoided watching Stranger Things for months after it came out merely because everyone I knew was doing it).
As I hinted in the last blog, the latest sweeping craze that’s dominating the nation– as inappropriately early as always– is that of Fall baking, specifically pumpkin everything. The moment August slips away and September enters with its mild temperature changes and uncomfortably prominent Christmas displays, the dessert scene assumes a characteristically dark orange hue. You must understand that of all the trending things I’ve opposed, few have been harder than that of the September pumpkin, the warm, cozy, spiced deliciousness of pumpkin. You might roll your eyes at my entirely self-constructed dilemma, wonder why I don’t just indulge with the rest of the sensical world. In all honestly, I have no answer other than the fact that the feeling of swimming against the current, stomping the status quo, will forever bring me a satisfaction I can’t ignore. So, as delicious as pumpkin baked goods are, baking them right now would inevitably leave me with a bad taste in my mouth.
It was from this thought that I devised a masterful plan. What leaves a WONDERFUL taste in my mouth? And evokes just enough Fall vibes without stooping to the over-crowded level of the gourds that surround it? Sweet potatoes. When I caught sight of the beautifully unadorned, dirty-dusted yams at the store last week, I knew I’d found the star of my next recipe. They don’t need shiny, bulbous exteriors or carved out faces to boast their value; they live a simpler, humble life. I respect the sweet potato.
So, I bring these cupcakes to you this week. The soft, moist cake is filled with smooth sweet potato goodness, and the whole thing is topped with light, sweet marshmallowy frosting. Maple syrup in the potatoes and the frosting and the final dusting of cinnamon on top tie everything together. Even better, they’re mini, so eating more than one isn’t just okay, it’s the only acceptable way to enjoy these. Kick off your leaf-changing, sweater-wearing, hot tea season with a dessert that doesn’t sit at the popular table. Take that, pumpkin spice! (We’ll talk soon ;P)
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Mini Sweet Potato Cupcakes with Maple Marshmallow Frosting (V)
- 3/4 cup vegan sugar
- 2/3 cup vegetable oil
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 2 flax eggs (mix 2 TBSP ground flax with 6 TBSP water and let sit in fridge for at least 5 minutes until thickened)
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 2/3 cup “buttermilk” (1 TBSP vinegar mixed with enough almond milk to make 2/3 cup and left to sit for at least 5 minutes)
- 1 1/2 cups peeled, mashed sweet potatoes (I pierced and cooked them in the microwave til soft and mashed with a fork)
- 3 TBSP maple syrup
- 1/4 tsp cumin (optional: it adds a subtle, unique flavor)
- aquafaba from 1 15oz or 15.5oz can of chickpeas (aquafaba is the liquid from the can)
- 3/4 tsp cream of tartar
- 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
- 1/2 cup vegan powdered sugar
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a mini cupcake tin with cupcake liners, or grease well.
- Combine sugar, salt, flax eggs, and vanilla in bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until combined. Add oil, and continue mixing just until combined.
- In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon
- Add the flour mixture and the “buttermilk” to the wet ingredients in the stand mixer bowl, alternating between each and mixing on medium/low speed after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. End with the last of the “buttermilk.”
- In a small bowl, mix maple syrup into mashed sweet potatoes. Add cumin if desired.
- Fill each space in cupcake tin halfway full with batter.
- Drop about a teaspoon of the mashed potato mixture on top of each filled cup.
- Spoon a bit more batter into each cup, just enough to cover the potato mixture. (it’s okay if it’s not completely covered)
- Bake in the 350° oven for 10-13 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in cakey part of cupcake comes out clean.
- Transfer cupcakes onto cooling rack; if no liners were used, carefully turn pan upside down close to rack to release cupcakes, and let them cool upside down before handling to avoid breakage.
- Place aquafaba into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the balloon whisk attachment. Begin whisking on high speed.
- When mixture appears foamy, stop mixer, and add cream of tartar.
- Continue whisking on high until mixture starts to look white and fluffy.
- Add powdered sugar 1/4 cup at a time, mixing well after each addition.
- Continue mixing on high speed and add maple syrup, a little at a time. Mix until stiff, glossy peaks form. Whisk in cinnamon.
- Pipe onto cooled cupcakes, and serve immediately.