Now that it is officially fall, we have had pumpkin bread and sweet potato chai muffins in our home nonstop. This is great for those fall cravings to pair perfectly with a cup of chai tea or hot coffee as we take in the crisp mornings, or as a portable snack that I can bring to liven up my work day, but also is a bit too tempting at all hours of the day when we are home ;). It’s a good thing muffins are the perfect size for sharing!
Last weekend, my mom, sister, and I took a quick weekend girls’ trip to Richmond. On Sunday morning, we popped into a local coffee shop for some pick-me-up drinks. Knowing we had brunch reservations later in the morning, we were originally going to abstain from trying any of the coffee shop baked goods. But, when we saw the bakery-sized sweet potato chai muffin in the case, we decided we needed a muffin appetizer and got one to split. The muffin was the perfect consistency and packed with fall spices to pair perfectly with our fancy coffee and tea drinks. It was so delicious that we got another one to-go to snack on during the car ride home. I immediately decided that this was the next recipe I wanted to imitate and am excited to be able to have sweet potato chai muffins whenever I want them, and not just at an out-of-town coffee shop.
I could (and do) shout about my love of pumpkin from the rooftops, but once October hits, pumpkin gets all of the good publicity while other great fall flavors are sent to the back burner. Sorry, apples, sweet potatoes, chai spice, we love you all, too! Sweet potato chai muffins combine the flavors of a familiar root vegetable, with the delicious ginger, cinnamon, and cardamom that we love in a chai latte. It is just different enough from pumpkin to stand out on its own, but reminiscent enough that it still fits the fall flavor profile and cravings.
My home state of North Carolina is the largest producer of sweet potatoes in the United States, and has been since 1971. In recent years NC has harvested 95,000 more acres than the next three top-producing states combined. So, to say that sweet potatoes are in our blood isn’t too far off ;) With such high sweet potato production, sweet potatoes are always readily available, but I do still associate them with fall and winter, when other starchy and root vegetables are more common. Combining the classic flavor that reminds many people of a Thanksgiving side dish with the warm chai spices of cinnamon, cardamom, and ginger, to name a few, makes for the perfect fall combo and a great muffin to eat with your morning coffee or tea (chai, perhaps? ;)).
Sweet Potato Chai Muffins
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons cardamom
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons brown sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups peeled, mashed sweet potato (about 1 large or 2 small sweet potatoes)*
*I tried mashing the sweet potatoes by hand and putting them in a food processor and had much better muffin results with the food processor.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Coat your muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray, or use muffin cups.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, pepper, and salt.
In another bowl, stir together the brown sugar, oil, and eggs. Add the mashed sweet potato and stir to incorporate well.
Pour the sweet potato mixture into the dry ingredients and use a spatula to stir just until the dry ingredients are incorporated and there are no pockets of flour. Do not overmix.
Use an ice cream scoop or 1/3 cup to scoop the batter into your prepared muffin tins. Fill each muffin cup about 3/4 full. Bake 20-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let them cool in the pan for about 5 minutes. Remove from the pand and let cool completely, or serve warm.