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ERIN SULLEY: Getting festive with sweet potato

Who knew a sweet potato could add so much flavour to a muffin recipe?  PAUL PICKETT PHOTO
Who knew a sweet potato could add so much flavour to a muffin recipe? PAUL PICKETT PHOTO - Contributed

You would never put Christmas and sweet potato in the same sentence or think that they have anything in common.

But this time of year, foodie friends, is the most wonderful time of the year for five-spice sweet potato muffins.  


I found an amazing recipe in the least likely of places. In a cookbook authored by award-winning actor Gwyneth Paltrow.  

Admittedly, I was a bit apprehensive.

That is, until I took my first bite of a hot and moist muffin straight out of the oven. 

This five-spice sweet potato muffin recipe is delish! 

The smell alone will make you feel like you were sprinkled with Christmas fairy dust and floating with every bite.  

Sadly, muffin tops are only awesome on actual muffins.” - Unknown 

Five-spice blend is a game changer for this recipe. The spice blend is welcome at this time of year, given its warm and comforting blend of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, star anise and fennel.  It’s one of those recipes that — if you’re not feeling the Christmas spirit — the aroma and taste will warm your heart, belly and give you that extra get up and go to get ‘er done. It is a great treat to have on hand with a delicious cup of tea while decorating the house for the holidays.  

I love how a few simple ingredients turn into a most delicious result.  ERIN SULLEY PHOTO
I love how a few simple ingredients turn into a most delicious result. ERIN SULLEY PHOTO


Five-spice sweet potato muffins require a little more tender loving care than other muffin recipes. A little prep work that is totally worth it in the end. You got it! The sweet potato has to be baked, mashed and cooled before being placed into the main mixing bowl. Don’t forget to take the peel off.  

“Momma potato to baby potato: You’re not being a sweet potato. Baby potato: Yes, I yam.” - Unknown 

When you don’t have time or you simply don’t want to wait for it to bake for the recommended time, (typically around one hour). I mean really, who has time to wait for one whole hour for one sweet potato to bake? Yup, didn’t think so.  
Insert cheat method. It is not that surprising really. All you do is cut the sweet potato into tiny pieces and place in foil wrap before putting in into the oven. Anything to speed up the process without compromising the taste. This does the trick. 

 This is actually a vegan recipe. Meaning, there is no meat, milk, or eggs involved. If you are not used to cooking vegan-style meals — no sweat! It is similar to what I said above —  you are choosing a different process without compromising the taste. Actually, I would argue that this is the most flavourful recipe I have ever made.  
Instead of using a cup or more of sugar, this recipe calls for maple syrup and vanilla. A delicious combo for sweetness. Instead of milk and butter, it calls for almond milk and olive oil. You can also make this gluten free by using gluten-free flour. I love the endless options available to create a dish that is welcoming for everyone.  

In saying that, this is probably a great dish to bring to potluck or work party for a dessert option.  

Don’t be surprised by the dense texture after mixing all the ingredients. ERIN SULLEY PHOTO
Don’t be surprised by the dense texture after mixing all the ingredients. ERIN SULLEY PHOTO

 “Why do potatoes make good detectives? Because they keep their eyes peeled.” - Unknown 

When spooning out the mixture to put in the muffin cups, you don’t really need to be careful about how much you put inside because they don’t rise a whole lot. All of this to say that you have options, depending on the size of muffin you want to bake. 

 If you really want to take it up a notch, (non-vegan options) spread a thick scrumptious layer of homemade cream cheese icing, homemade marshmallow topping or whipped cream and pecans over top. Are you drooling yet? 

Vegan or not, you’ll savour every bite of these muffins. ERIN SULLEY PHOTO
Vegan or not, you’ll savour every bite of these muffins. ERIN SULLEY PHOTO

“Any cupcake consumed before 9 a.m. is, technically, a muffin.” – Brian P. Cleary 


With or without the added layer of sweetness, five-spice sweet potato muffins are definitely fit to eat.  


Erin Sulley is a self-confessed foodie who lives in Mount Pearl. Email erinmsulley@gmail.comTwitter: @ErinSulley Instagram: @erinsulley 


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