Spiced Sweet Potato Cake with Bourbon Maple Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Spiced Sweet Potato Cake with Bourbon Maple Swiss Meringue Buttercream

  It’s the season of pumpkins and gourds. The supermarket has an entire section of the store dedicated to them, with several boxes filled to the brim. I realize they’re in season during this time of year, but the one thing I never could understand is why so many people obsess over something as simple as a pumpkin or pumpkin-spice, for that matter. Perhaps it’s because I’ve never been a fan of pumpkin in the first place, per the reason as to why I don’t understand the ways of pumpkin lovers. I’ve always preferred the sweet potato, with its subtle sweetness; oh, how it blends so perfectly well with butter and brown sugar! Oftentimes I feel they don’t get the attention they deserve. Well, until Thanksgiving comes around. There’s almost always a sweet potato pie or casserole involved.

  Instead of adding yet another pumpkin spice recipe to the thousands already out there, I decided on a delicious spiced sweet potato cake made with local sweet potatoes and spiced with cinnamon and allspice. Accompanying the cake is a silky-smooth bourbon maple swiss meringue buttercream. The chocolate ganache is optional, but if you do decide on it, make sure to sprinkle on a generous amount of flaky sea salt to finish. You will thank me later. 


SPICED SWEET POTATO CAKE WITH BOURBON MAPLE SWISS MERINGUE BUTTERCREAM

   cake
380 grams cake flour, sifted
2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
400 grams raw cane sugar
8-ounces unsalted butter, room temp.
3 large eggs, room temp.
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
*1 cup mashed sweet potato
¾ cup whole milk, room temp.

*2 medium-small sweet potatoes
1 tablespoon allspice berries
2 cinnamon sticks
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup

   bourbon-maple swiss meringue buttercream
5 large egg whites
1 cup raw cane sugar
12-ounces unsalted butter, room temp.
2/3 cup pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons bourbon
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Pinch of sea salt

   chocolate ganache (optional)
6-ounces fine, bittersweet chocolate, chopped
6-ounces heavy cream

Method:

   cake:

  1. Peel and chop two, medium-small sweet potatoes and place them in a small saucepan with 1 cup of water, the maple syrup, allspice, and cinnamon sticks. Cover and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the sweet potato is soft- about 10 minutes. Remove the cooked sweet potato from the water and spices and place in a bowl, then mash with a fork until there are no more clumps. Set aside to cool to room temperature before using.
  2. Preheat oven to 350°F / 177°C. Grease and line three, 6-inch cake pans.
  3. In a mixing bowl, combine the sifted cake flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and cloves; whisk until combined and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and add the vanilla and beat until just combined. On low speed, beat in the eggs, one at a time, until combined(make sure to scrape down the bowl after each addition). Add the cooled sweet potato and beat until just combined. Scrape down the bowl of the mixer once more and add one-third of the milk and one-third of the flour; beat until just combined, then continue to alternate the milk and flour, making sure to end with adding the remaining third of the flour. Pour the batter amongst the three prepared pans and spread about evenly. Bake for 35-43 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, or until the cake springs back up after a gentle touch. Cool in the pans 10 minutes, then using a sharp knife to loosen the cake from around the edges, invert onto wire racks to cool completely.

   bourbon maple swiss meringue buttercream:

  1. Create a double boiler by placing a heat-proof mixing bowl over a simmering pot of water(make sure the bowl does not touch the water). Add the egg whites and sugar and stir gently but constantly with a whisk until the mixture reaches 160°F / 70°C on a candy thermometer. Remove from heat and beat the mixture on high with an electric mixer (with the whisk attachment), until thick and completely cool to the touch, about 8 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, begin to add the soft butter, a few tablespoons at a time, until combined. Once all the butter is in, increase the mixer speed to medium and beat until silky smooth and voluminous. Scrape down the bowl and add the bourbon, maple syrup, and vanilla. Beat on low until smooth and combined.

  chocolate ganache:

  1. Chop the bittersweet chocolate into small pieces and place in a medium bowl. In another (heatproof) bowl, heat the cream until it’s hot to the touch. Pour the hot cream over the chopped chocolate and give it a quick stir then let it sit for 10 minutes. Stir until smooth. Do not pour onto cake until the ganache has cooled and is no longer warm to the touch(it may have thickened a lot by then, but still pourable)

  to assemble the cake:

Level off any dome that may have formed on the cakes during baking. Place the first layer on a cake board/plate/stand, and spread ½ cup of frosting over the top. Add the second layer and repeat with the same amount of frosting, making sure to spread the frosting on evenly. End with the third layer, making sure the bottom of the cake is facing upward; spread the remaining frosting over the top and sides of the cake. Place in the refrigerator so the frosting becomes firm. Pour the ganache into the center of the cake and gently spread towards the edges so it drips down. Serve when the ganache has hardened in place.

SWEET POTATO AND MOLASSES OAT COOKIES

  It has been some time since I last baked a batch of warm cookies; they seem to be the neglected baked good here on my blog so I thought it high time I sat down and created a cookie recipe to add to my tiny collection.   Since we are now in November(if you’re anything like me, you’re probably thinking what the heck, already?), that means an abundance of sweet potatoes from the month before!  Here in Virginia, October is harvest time for sweet potatoes- mostly in early or mid-October, as it’s best to harvest them before the first fall frost, which came really late this year.  

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  Of the many vegetables out there, one of my favorites will always be the sweet potato.  My mom bakes them quite often around this time of year and my favorite way to eat them? A good dousing in butter and a generous amount of pecans and brown sugar sprinkled all over the top.  Really, it’s the best thing ever, though, I probably ruin the nutritional value by doing so.  

  My favorite cookie this time of year will forever be molasses oatmeal cookies.  They were always my go-to when there weren’t any chocolate chips in the kitchen; which, believe it or not, was (and still is) a rarity in my home(even with my chocolate obsession).  So, I thought I’d combine my two favorite things and create these soft, not-so-sweet, sweet potato and molasses oat cookies.  Though the ingredient list may look a bit intimidating and long, they’re very simple and easy to make.  Once fresh out of the oven, they are sprinkled with a generous amount of cinnamon sugar, which, once cooled, gives the cookies a slight crunch when eaten.  

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SWEET POTATO AND MOLASSES OAT COOKIES

makes about 12-16 medium-sized cookies

2 1/2 cups rolled oats

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup super-fine almond flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

8 ounces unsalted butter, soft

3/4 cups brown sugar

1 large egg, room temperature

1/4 cup dark molasses

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 medium-sized sweet potato, peeled and chopped 

2 cinnamon sticks

1 teaspoon allspice berries

sugar topping:

2 tablespoons turbinado sugar

1/2 teaspoon molasses

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

finely chopped pecans (optional)

METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.  Prepare a large baking sheet by lining with parchment paper or lightly coating with cooking oil.
  2. Rinse, peel and chop the sweet potato into thin chunks.  Fill a small pot half full with water and add the allspice berries, cinnamon sticks, and chopped sweet potato.  Bring to a boil over high heat, once it begins to boil, set a kitchen timer for 12-16 minutes, or until the potatoes are soft in the center.  Discard the spices and strain the potatoes; add mash until smooth.  Set in the refrigerator until cool to touch.  
  3. Meanwhile, combine and whisk the flours, baking soda, salt, and spices; set aside.  In an electric mixer with beaters attached, combine the softened butter, brown sugar, molasses, and vanilla.  Beat on medium speed until fluffy.  Add the egg and beat until combined.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the flour and mashed sweet potato.  Beat on medium until just combined.  Stir in the oats.  Using a 1-tablespoon scoop, dollop the cookie batter onto the prepared cookie sheet, spacing two inches apart.  Using a spoon very lighly flatten each dollop of batter, keeping it in a round shape.  Bake for 14-16 minutes until the edges are slighly browned.  While the cookies are baking, in a small bowl combine the two tablespoons of turbinado sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of molasses, whisk with a fork till it’s combined; stir in the cinnamon and pecans if using.  Remove the cookies from the oven and sprinkle on a pinch of the sugar mixture.  Let the cookies sit on the pan for 5 minutes before moving onto a cooling rack.