Brown Butter Sweet Potato Cupcakes with Homemade Bourbon Marshmallows

Move over pumpkin pie! Brown Butter Sweet Potato Cupcakes with Homemade Bourbon Marshmallows are ready to be the star of your Thanksgiving feast.

Brown Butter Sweet Potato Cupcakes with Homemade Bourbon Marshmallows

It’s not too hard to figure out where the inspiration for these cupcakes came from. When Thanksgiving rolls around my mom always makes a big pan of buttered sweet potatoes topped with golden toasted marshmallows. It’s nearly dessert, but somehow we all accept that it belongs on the plate next to the turkey and dressing.

Browned butter is what makes the cake extra-special. The toasty flavor harmonizes so well with warm spices and sweet potato.

Brown that butter.

Browning butter is easy, but it requires your undivided attention. And it’s the first step of this recipe, so let’s get into it.

Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Use a light-colored metal saucepan so you can easily see the color of the butter change. It’s much harder to judge the doneness in a dark nonstick pan. Cook until the butter foams and steams. Swirl the pan occasionally as the foam subsides and watch closely as the butter turns golden brown and the milk solids drop to the bottom of the pan. Pour the browned butter and butter solids into a small bowl and let stand until cool but not solidified.

Mixing the batter.

Oh, the spices! They will fill your home and give you all the warm and fuzzies. Whisk cinnamon, ginger and allspice into the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, combine the wet ingredients, which includes unsweet mashed sweet potato. You could boil sweet potatoes on the stovetop in water and then mash them. Or save yourself some trouble. Buy a can of organic sweet potato puree (such as this).

Brown Butter Sweet Potato Cupcakes with Homemade Bourbon Marshmallows

Combine the wet and dry ingredients until smooth. Then add the browned butter along with the solids. Beat it in with an electric mixer, and you should have a thick, fluffy, perfect-looking cake batter.

Portion it into cupcake liners using an ice cream scoop. If you don’t have a scoop, then aim for about 2/3 full.

Brown Butter Sweet Potato Cupcakes with Homemade Bourbon Marshmallows

Look at these beauties! They rise and brown evenly, and have a soft, moist crumb.

Marshmallow time!

I would understand if you wanted to plop a toasted ready-made marshmallow right on top of those cupcakes for an easy version of this recipe. However. I adore the bouncy softness of a homemade marshmallow. Ever since I topped this hot cocoa cake with homemade marshmallows. Well. I’m a changed woman.

They’re not all that difficult to make, but they will need some time to cure. You may want to make them ahead of the cake portion. I’ve added a grace note of bourbon to these marshmallows, which makes my southern heart a little happier, and it tastes divine with the sweet potato sponge.

After the marshmallow cures in the pan for two hours, slice the slab of marshmallow into 25 squares.

Brown Butter Sweet Potato Cupcakes with Homemade Bourbon Marshmallows

Simple cinnamon American buttercream is quick to whip up, and the perfect adhesive to hold onto the bourbon marshmallows. You’ll just need a little bit on top of each cupcake. (I used a Sultan tube, which pipes the perfect little ring of frosting.) Lightly toast the marshmallows using a chef’s torch, if you have one. Homemade marshmallows are extremely meltable, so use a light touch.

Brown Butter Sweet Potato Cupcakes with Homemade Bourbon Marshmallows
Brown Butter Sweet Potato Cupcakes with Homemade Bourbon Marshmallows

There’s a lot of love that goes into these cupcakes, from the browned butter to the homemade marshmallows. And if you’re feeling generous, drizzle a little caramel sauce over the tops of the marshmallows and sprinkle on some pecans. I call these toppings optional because there’s already quite a bit going on, but those finishing touches are nice when serving to a crowd.

One more thing – not everyone will have a chef’s torch to toast the marshmallows. There are oven instructions for this in the recipe notes.

Brown Butter Sweet Potato Cupcakes with Homemade Bourbon Marshmallows

Heather Baird
These sweet potato cupcakes were inspired by my mom’s Thanksgiving side dish of sweet potatoes topped with marshmallows. There are several steps to this recipe, but I think they are well worth the effort. And especially for the upcoming holidays!
You can buy unsweet sweet potato puree canned at most grocery stores, and that’s what I used in this recipe. However, you can also make your own by peeling sweet potatoes, cutting them into 1/2 inch chunks, and boiling them until tender (about 15 minutes). Then mash them until fine, or stick them in a blender to puree.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 1 hr
Cook Time 45 mins
Total Time 1 hr 45 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 25 cupcakes

Equipment

  • chef's torch
  • 8×8 baking pan
  • 2 cupcake pans
  • paper cupcake liners

Ingredients
 
 

Sweet potato cupcakes

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups sweet potato puree
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup sour cream

Bourbon marshmallows

  • 4 1/2 teaspoons unflavored powdered gelatin
  • 1/2 cup bourbon
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup divided
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon
  • 2/3 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar

Cinnamon buttercream

  • 1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 4 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • Milk or cream to thin

Optional toppings

  • 1/2 cup prepared caramel sauce
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans

Instructions
 

Sweet potato cupcakes

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake tins with papers.
  • Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Use a light-colored metal saucepan so you can easily see the color of the butter change. It’s much harder to judge the doneness in a dark nonstick pan. Cook until the butter foams and steams. Swirl the pan occasionally as the foam subsides and watch closely as the butter turns golden brown and the milk solids drop to the bottom of the pan. Pour the browned butter and butter solids into a small bowl and let stand until cool but not solidified.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, and salt. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, whisk the sweet potato puree with the granulated sugar, brown sugar, eggs and sour cream until well combined. Stir in the flour mixture and combine until only a few streaks of flour remain. Whisk in the browned butter until well combined.
  • Divide the batter between the cupcake liners using a trigger ice cream scoop. If you don’t have a scoop, fill them about approximately 2/3 full. Bake cupcakes for 20-25 minutes or until they spring back when pressed in the middle. Remove them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Bourbon marshmallows

  • Lightly spray an 8-by-8-inch baking pan with cooking spray and wipe away any excess with a paper towel.
  • Let the gelatin dissolve in bourbon 5 minutes, or until well bloomed and thickened.
  • In a medium saucepan with a candy thermometer clipped to the side, stir together the sugar, 1/4 cup corn syrup, 1/4 cup water and salt and place over high heat. Boil, stirring occasionally, until the temperature reaches 240°F. Meanwhile, pour the remaining 1/4 cup corn syrup into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.
  • Microwave the gelatin on high until it is completely melted, about 10-20 seconds. Pour it into the corn syrup. Set the mixer to low, and keep the mixer running while you check the sugar syrup.
  • Once the syrup reaches 240°F, remove it from the heat. Keeping the mixer on low, slowly pour the syrup into the gelatin mixture in a steady stream, aiming for the space between the beater and the bowl. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 5 minutes. Raise the speed to medium-high and beat for 5 more minutes. Beat on the highest setting for 1 to 2 minutes more and beat in the 2 tablespoons bourbon; the finished marshmallow will be opaque white, fluffy, and roughly tripled in volume.
  • Pour the marshmallow into the prepared pan. Use an offset spatula to smooth the top. Combine cornstarch and confectioners’ sugar in a medium bowl to make the coating. Sift coating evenly and generously over the top. Let the marshmallow set for at least 2 hours. When the marshmallow has set, use a knife to loosen the marshmallow from the edges of the pan. Invert the marshmallow slab onto a coating-dusted work surface and dust it with more coating. Cut into 25 large squares and dip the sticky edges of the marshmallows in more coating, patting off the excess. Let stand, uncovered, at room temperature while you prepare the buttercream.

Cinnamon buttercream

  • Combine the butter and confectioners in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat on high speed until well combined, about 4 minutes. Add in the cinnamon. Add milk or cream 1 tablespoon at a time with the mixer running until the frosting comes to piping consistency. Transfer the frosting to a large piping bag fitted with a large sultan decorator piping tip (see blog post for link). Alternatively, you can use any large fluted piping tip.

Assembly

  • Pipe a small ring of buttercream on a cupcake and immediately top with a marshmallow. Repeat the process of piping and topping until all of the cupcakes are topped. Use a chef’s torch to lightly toast the marshmallows. Homemade marshmallows are extremely meltable, so use a light touch. Garnish each cupcake with a drizzle of caramel and a sprinkle of chopped pecans.
  • Store the cupcakes airtight for up to 2 days at room temperature.

Notes

If you don’t have a chef’s torch, place the marshmallows on a baking sheet and broil them for 2 minutes in the oven. As I stated before, homemade marshmallows are very meltable. When lightly toasted remove them from the oven and place them in the refrigerator to firm. When firm enough to move, transfer them with a spatula to the frosted cupcakes.
To shortcut this recipe, you could use ready-made jumbo marshmallows instead of making the homemade bourbon marshmallows.
Keyword brown butter cupcakes, homemade marshmallows, sweet potato cupcakes, Thanksgiving dessert
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
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Annie
Annie
1 month ago

Hi Heather — haven’t tried making this recipe yet, but I’m going to make my roasted sweet potato cream cheese cake for a party this weekend. Like you I’m feeling the Thanksgiving vibe! LOL This recipe looks wonderful — will have to give it a try & make it gluten free. Once again the Tiramisu Cupcakes were a huge hit! Even made gluten free!

Cindi
Cindi
1 month ago

You had me at Bourbon!!! Can you share where you got your square pan or can you recommend one? It seems I have every pan imaginable EXCEPT an 8″ square!!! Thank you!!!

ps. I made your French Opera cake and OMG it was delicious!!! I may have mixed up a layer or 2 (Ooops!) but it was very yummy!!! I cannot wait to make these cupcakes!!!!

Jesse-Gabriel
Jesse-Gabriel
1 month ago

Oh mein Gott, wenn man nach diesen Sweet Potato Cupcakes keinen Zuckerschock hat, dann weiß ich ach nicht.
Sieht lecker aus aber sooo viel Butter!
Grüße,
Jesse-Gabriel
Oh my god, if these sweet potato cupcakes don’t give you a sugar rush, then I dunno.
Looks delicious but sooo much butter!
Regards,
Jesse-Gabriel

MTess
MTess
1 month ago

Hi, I have a few questions since my first batch didn’t work. The 1/2 cup of bourbon is what blooms the gelatin, right? The bloomed gelatin then gets mixed in, so I don’t see how the final product is white when there’s bourbon from the gelatin in it as well as the addition of 2 tablespoons during the final mix. Does it fade at some point while it’s setting? Thanks.