Monday, August 25, 2008

Entry Deux: Sweet Potato Mini-Muffins

Food background:

Dish type: Dessert/Snack

Method Utilized: "Quick & Simple"

When I first moved to New Orleans, I worked for a wine shop/gourmet deli called Martin's Wine Cellar. During the holiday season, my good friend who worked in catering would bake loaves of pumpkin bread & sweet potato bread, to which I became mildly addicted. Sweet potatoes are a common staple down here, as we have our own Louisiana sweet potatoes. However they're typically dished out in the form of greasy, salty sweet potato fries, or the marshmallow & brown sugar-laden dish we all know from holiday dinners. Even mashed sweet potatoes down here tend to be doused in maple syrup.....delicious, no doubt, but not exactly healthy.

Sweet potatoes are an excellent alternative to traditional side dishes as they're highly nutrient dense (but you probably already know that, and are about 10 seconds from saying "shut your yup, woman and just get to the darned recipe!!!) Okay, fine. *pouts* :)

I DO have in my possession my dear friend's recipe for her famous sweet potato bread--however it's for a yield of about 40 loaves...and since I have no fish, and no followers to feed, just wee lil' me, I don't need quite that many. It's also a slightly labor intensive process that involves baking the delectable orange starch-vessels, blending the dough base....let's just say it's an all-day thing.

However, there are ways around that. And they're called "bread mixes". I find delicious-sounding bread mixes at Big Lots, Marshalls, & Ross all the time for cheap. This time, I had one that's actually for "pumpkin bread", but if you examine the box, you see that it requires you to ADD canned pumpkin. This can EASILY be swapped for an equal amount of cooked sweet potatoes. Cooking potatoes yourself = less processed additives in your food. Baking works great, so does cubing and steaming them. I don't recommend boiling them because they get too waterlogged.

And if you want to save even MORE time, check out your local farmer's market--ours has frozen bags of sweet potato rounds that just need to be reheated. Each round is approximately 1/4 c.

Shopping List:
- 1 box bread mix (a mix that specifies pumpkin, sweet potato, or "spice" bread is ideal, and keep an eye out for one that uses wheat flour if you can for extra nutrients)
- Egg Beaters "All Whites" (equivalent of 2 Large eggs--it's on the side of the package. Wanna say it's 1/3 cup)
- applesauce (plain or cinnamon)
- 1/2 tbsp butter (half a pat), melted
- 3/4 cup pureed sweet potatoes
- 1/3 cup water
- mini muffin pans (I got some of the silicone ones and they're AWESOME)


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

This is not a toughie. In fact, all I really did was modify the instructions on the box to cut the fat & calories. Replace the eggs with egg whites (if you don't have EggBeaters, you can simply use 4 egg whites instead), and replace the oil with the applesauce. I add the half tbsp of butter for the flavor boost it gives to the bread (use REAL butter, and not margarine--butter is less processed, and margarine breaks down into some rather devious chemicals when heated. Besides--this recipe will make (12) 3-muffin servings. That's a MINISCULE amount of butter in each muffin.)

If you can find the sweet potato rounds, I defrost them in the micro (takes about 2 minutes on the defrost setting--add 1/2 tsp of water to the bowl you defrost them in) and then just whip 'em up and add them to the wet ingredients. Blend thoroughly, then add in the powdered bread mix and blend till smooth.

Lightly spray your muffin pans w/ Pam (I use the Olive Oil version, though I like the Pam for Baking especially well too) and add in the batter to 2/3 full. If you use the silicone trays like me, place them on a cookie sheet for easy handling.

TIP FOR ELECTRIC OVEN READERS: I've noticed my electric oven does not bake things as evenly as gas stoves do (dastardly landlords...grrr...) so I put these on the middle rack, and bake these for 10 minutes on the "Bake" setting (bottom coil heated), and then switch it to "Broil" (top coil) for 5 minutes. You get a gorgeous even color and baking this way.

Prep time: 5 minutes
Bake time: 15 minutes per rotation (I had two pans that fit 6 muffins each, so I did 3 batches)

Yield: 36 mini-muffins, or (12) 3 muffin servings

Original Nutrifacts from the box: 248 calories per serving (if prepared as instructed), 12 servings

New Caloric: 150 calories for 3 muffins, still 12 servings.

Sadly my Nutrifacts calculator doesn't have a "boxed bread mix" option, so I can't give the rest of the details. :(

What would I do differently next time? I might consider adding the equivalent of one more egg white to "fluff" it up a bit--the end result was a wee bit denser than I like. Otherwise, the flavor was FANTASTIC. In fact, I brought a serving in a baggie to have for my mid-afternoon snack--I put them in the microwave for 10 seconds, and now the smell has permeated my office. It's like Christmas in here! YUM!

I also might consider making some with chopped pecans mixed in--pecans are a staple around here, and they're very good for you. Plus--my boss gives everyone a 5lb box of shelled pecans for Christmas every year, so I always have some laying around. :-)

I promise I WILL, at a later date, do a "traditional" baked version of this recipe as well, doing everything from scratch.

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