Sweet potatoes are available year-round but are most abundant in markets in autumn and winter. Some of these edible roots—members of the morning glory family—have tan skin and light yellow flesh; others have darker red-orange skin and flesh. The latter type is often called a yam in the United States, although it is not a true yam. Red-orange sweet potatoes are slightly moister and sweeter than the tan variety, which has the same texture as a russet potato when cooked and mashed.
Cinnamon-Crunch Sweet Potato Muffins
For the topping:
3 Tbs. sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
For the muffins:
2 sweet potatoes, about 14 oz. (440 g) total, peeled and cut into chunks
1 3/4 cups (9 oz./280 g) all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup (4 oz./125 g) sugar
1/2 cup (4 fl. oz./125 ml) canola oil or walnut oil
1/2 cup (4 fl. oz./125 ml) milk
1/2 tsp. orange oil, or grated zest of 1 orange
3/4 cup (3 oz./90 g) pecans, coarsely chopped
Unsalted butter for serving
To make the topping, in a small bowl, stir together the sugar and cinnamon. Set aside.
To make the muffins, bring a saucepan of water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the sweet potatoes and cook until tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and drain well. Transfer to a food processor and pulse until slightly fluffy. Scrape the sweet potatoes into a bowl and let cool to room temperature.
Preheat an oven to 400°F (200°C). Grease 12 standard muffin cups with butter or nonstick cooking spray.
In a bowl, stir together the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder and salt.
In another bowl, combine the eggs, sugar, oil, milk and orange oil and whisk vigorously for 1 minute. Add the mashed sweet potatoes and beat until completely blended. Add the flour mixture and stir until just evenly moistened. The batter will be slightly lumpy. Using a large rubber spatula, fold in the pecans until just evenly distributed, no more than a few strokes. Do not overmix.
Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups, filling them three-fourths full. Sprinkle with the topping, dividing evenly. Bake until the muffins are golden, dry and springy to the touch, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes. Unmold the muffins. Serve them warm, with butter. Makes 12 muffins.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Collection Series, Muffins, by Beth Hensperger (Simon & Schuster, 2003).