La Casta… what? Well here in Barcelona Halloween is becoming more popular but to celebrate October 31st in true Catalan tradition you have la Castanyada, ‘Chestnut time’. I’ll tell you more about this celebration next week but it involves eating chestnuts, panellets (almond paste treats) and sweet potatoes. So here are some Castanyada-Halloween sweet potato cupcakes for you! They’re topped with a white, orange or green-coloured frosting of mascarpone, orange zest, orange liqueur and maple syrup. Surprisingly light and spongy, as you bite into one you’ll be surprised when the contrasting flavours and textures hit you with a sudden sharp juicy dried cranberry or crunchy walnut piece. All topped with the light creamy frosting of course. It’s a very satisfying cupcake for your stomach and senses. One is enough as the sweet potato fills you but you’ll be intrigued and reach for more to recapture the experience! 🙂
You can go classy good witch with white frosting.
Or slightly slimy snot green. lol.
And how about downright pumpkin-coloured?
Then if you get the right texture and piping nozzle you could have some scary worms! Very Roald Dahl with his revolting recipes… 🙂 Maybe a bit too gross?
Of course you could always have them au naturel.
But first we need to make them…!
I was inspired by the sweet potato cake in Dessert by David Everitt-Matthias (of le Champignon Sauvage 2- Michelin-star restaurant). But I simplified the method and made my cupcake version sharper with cranberries instead of sultanas and the addition of a little greek yoghurt and lemon juice (instead of banana) to cut through the starch of the sweet potato. I also added the spices and salt. Then made the frosting healthier with maple syrup, keeping the amazing orange liqueur hit. If you’d like to avoid the alcohol you can add just a little mixed spice. But do keep the original recipe’s method for browning the butter – it adds to the wonderful flavours. Yum yum.
For 10-12 standard-size cupcakes or 16 smaller ones
Preparation: preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F (static oven) or 160°C/320°F (fan oven) and set out doubled-up cupcake cases on a baking tray.
- 25g/1 and three-quarters tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 medium-large free-range egg, beaten (60g)
- 100g/half a cup plus 2 tablespoons light muscovado sugar (or soft brown sugar)
- 50g/quarter cup cold-pressed mild olive oil or sunflower oil
- 20g/1 and a half tablespoons natural greek-style yoghurt mixed with half a teaspoon to a teaspoon of lemon juice
- 100g/half a cup plus 3 tbsp self-raising flour (in Spain you can find this in Lidl supermarkets)
- half a teaspoon/2.5g baking powder
- a quarter teaspoon ground cinammon
- small pinch of salt, to taste
- small pinch of nutmeg
Fruit, nuts and veg
- 150g/half a cup plus 2 tbsp sweet potato, peeled and grated (orange-fleshed is best)
- Grated zest of half an orange
- 33g/a third of a cup walnuts, roughly chopped
- 33g/a scant third of a cup dried cranberries
- Heat the butter in a heavy-based saucepan or frying pan till it starts to turn brown (it will smell nutty and look a bit speckly). This can take around 5 minutes on medium heat but you need to watch carefully as it turns brown suddenly and you have to stir it and take it off the heat quickly. Then leave to cool.
- Whisk the eggs and sugar in a large bowl till thicker and fluffier.
- Slowly drizzle in the oil then the cooled butter, while whisking till it’s combined.
- Whisk the flour, baking powder and spices together then sift into the large bowl. Fold in gently.
- Now fold in the fruits, nut and veg until just combined. Don’t overwork (and get the cake batter into the oven as soon as possible).
- Pour into the cupcake cases, filling almost three-quarters of the way up.
- Bake in the middle of the oven for 20 to 25 minutes till an inserted skewer comes out clean and the sponge springs back when you touch it lightly with a finger.
- 200g/7 ounces mascarpone cheese
- 4 teaspoons maple syrup
- 1 – 2 teaspoons orange liqueur, to taste or a quarter teaspoon ground mixed spice (or less)
- grated zest of half an orange
- optional: a spoon or two of Philadelphia cheese or a small pinch of salt; orange or green food colouring (Wilton’s gel)
Whisk all the ingredients together and add any extra quantities, adjusting to taste. Finally add very little food colouring if you like. Use a disposable piping bag and medium sized plain nozzle to pipe small swirls on your cupcakes.
Storing and eating
You can refrigerate these cakes in airtight tupperware up to 4 days or so. They keep really well and stay moist. I’m surprised how good they are every time I take a bite!
I’m going to share them with the Alphabakes challenge hosted by Ros@The More than Occasional Baker and Caroline Makes, Recipe of the Week@aMummyToo, Tasty Tuesdays@HonestMum, Simply Eggcellent@BelleauKitchen and Treat petite@Cakeyboi and Baking Explorer. Please help yourselves to a sweet potato, cranberry and walnut cupcake! 🙂
More about la Castanyada next time, and I quite fancy making something with chestnuts soon. But it’s farewell for now and thank you for dropping by again sweet reader, so soon after the Christmas cake post! Wishing you a fun week ahead, anticipating or planning celebratory treats. Happy baking and eating! 🙂 x