baking · bread · breakfast · sweet

Sweet Potato Muffin Tops

“It’s not what’s on the inside that counts, but what’s on top.” -The Muffin Man

Muffins.

The word strikes dismay in children around the globe. Muffins are the red-headed stepchild of the baking world. They are perceived as “lesser than” compared to their dessert cousin: cupcakes. Muffins aren’t topped with thick frosting, or shiny nonpareils, or sickeningly sweet caramel.

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Muffins.

A standard Continental breakfast item at hotels. If not done right, a stale and dry hunk of flour and fruit. Muffins can be savory or sweet—and even marketed for cornbread in the 1950’s. Every southerner knows cornbread muffins are a slight against God, so our muffins are typically sweet.

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Muffins are a homemakers delight. A quick-bread that takes no time or skill to make, and most importantly: no yeast. Although, in the Bible of cooking, Fannie Farmer’s Boston Cooking School Cook-Book (1896), Ms. Farmer included recipes for both a quick bread muffin and a muffin that uses yeast. Yeast-muffins have relatively fallen out of favor over the last century.

Within a trip through Louisiana, I encountered something I had never seen before: muffin tops. No, not the rather unpleasant roll of fat that hangs above your jeans. I’m talking a muffin without its dense and flavorless bottom. No cupcake wrapper, no cakey entrails.

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Just Muffin tops.

I thought it was brilliant. Everybody, and I mean everybody, knows the tops are the best part of the muffin. That’s where the streusel is, or the moist glean of the quickbread. I (regretfully) bypassed the muffin tops I saw being sold out of the counter of a bakery, but the idea stuck with me.

A quick Google search yielded many recipes for muffin tops. The recipe is simple, in fact; more simple than baking a whole muffin. The consistency and ingredients remind me of these Pineapple Cake Cookies I’ve made.

In keeping with the Southern theme, I needed to make a muffin top with classic Southern ingredients. If you haven’t noticed, we’re getting exceedingly closer to the holidays…

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Bolo noticed.

So, what better way to combine the two and make a sweet potato muffin top? Sweet potato souffle, marshmallow-topped sliced yams, and the Southern favorite Sweet Potato pie are all traditional deep south table toppers during the holidays.IMG_1308

A mixed use of spices go into these muffins. Ginger, nutmeg and roasted cinnamon (a new spice mix I found at the grocer) accompany the mashed yams. I went the easy way out—I used canned sweet potatoes. Just make sure you drain the syrup off since there’s already a decent amount of sugar in the batter.

The streusel topping is what makes these muffins so good. It’s second to none. A simple mix of oatmeal, pecans, brown sugar and cinnamon—it’s the magnificent angel sitting on top of the Christmas tree that is these muffin tops.

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Sweet Potato Muffin Tops

  • Servings: 12-14
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 ( 15 oz. can) sweet potatoes, drained & mashed
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

Streusel topping: 

  • 1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup flour, leveled off
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/3 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 4 TBS. unsalted butter, melted

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, blend together sugar, brown sugar and oil (it will be crumbly).
  2. In a separate bowl, mix baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. Add spice mixture to oil & sugar bowl and blend well.
  3. Add mashed sweet potatoes to mixture and beat well. Stir in eggs. Add flour, one cup at a time, until dough is well mixed.
  4. Make the streusel topping: combine oats, pecans, flour, cinnamon, salt and brown sugar in a small bowl. Drizzle in melted butter and mix until just crumbly.
  5. Grease a baking sheet. Drop muffin top dough with a 1/4 cup measuring cup (it should slide out well, but it doesn’t hurt to tap the bottom) two inches apart.
  6. Sprinkle streusel topping over dough. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until browned around edges. Cool on baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring to wire racks to fully cool.

Step-By-Step Instructions

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Canned sweet potato tip: drain off syrup (you can even lightly rinse the sweet potatoes in a strainer). Using a handheld potato masher (not electric), mash the sweet potatoes in a large bowl. I left a few decent-sized chunks so there would be a surprise treasure in the muffin tops.

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Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, blend together sugar, brown sugar and oil (it will be crumbly). In a separate bowl, mix baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. Add spice mixture to oil & sugar bowl and blend well.

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Add mashed sweet potatoes to mixture and beat well. Stir in eggs.

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Look at that nice liquidy base!

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Add flour, one cup at a time, until dough is well mixed.

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Make the streusel topping: combine oats, pecans, flour, cinnamon, salt and brown sugar in a small bowl.

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Drizzle in melted butter and mix until just crumbly.

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Grease a baking sheet. Drop muffin top dough with a 1/4 cup measuring cup (it should slide out well, but it doesn’t hurt to tap the bottom) two inches apart.

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Sprinkle streusel topping over dough. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until browned around edges.

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Cool on baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring to wire racks to fully cool.

 

 

 

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5 thoughts on “Sweet Potato Muffin Tops

  1. Wow, I’d never heard of these before either! They sound so good, though – and they look SO yummy! Might try making muffin tops some time as well… Although, I have to say, I do really love entire muffins as well. 😀

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