Earlier this year, my friend Daphne Carr launched a Kickstarter project to publish the Best Music Writing book series independently, through her new music-focused press Feedback Press. (BMW is an anthology of the year’s best conversation about music, in the form of features, essays, reviews, blog posts, etc.) One of the pledge options toward the project’s $15,000 goal was for me to bake treats inspired by the artist or song of the backer’s choice, and this was the first of the two purchased, inspired by James Taylor’s “Carolina In My Mind.”
Sweet potato whoopie pies with maple cream cheese frosting and candied pecans
James Taylor grew up in North Carolina and he wrote his hit song “Carolina In My Mind” when he was homesick overseas. I chose sweet potatoes because North Carolina is the No. 1 producer of them in the U.S., so they might help with a little bit of homesickness. And while I was brainstorming for this, my aunt unknowingly (via Facebook — thanks, Aunt Linda!) tipped me off to videos of James Taylor baking pecan pies and maple sugaring, so I made the sweet potato whoopie pies, then rolled them in pecans that I candied with maple syrup and brown sugar.
Makes about 12-15 whoopie pies.
Adapted from Baked.
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 tablespoon ground ginger
1/2 tablespoon ground cloves
1 cup packed dark-brown sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups chilled sweet potato purée (from about two small sweet potatoes)
1 large egg
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
• Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line two baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper.
• In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and spices. Set aside.
• In a large bowl, mix together vegetable oil and brown sugar until well combined. Add sweet potato puree, egg and vanilla and whisk to combine.
• Gradually add the flour mixture and mix with a wooden spoon until well combined.
• Use a batter scoop (mine is about 1.5 inches in diameter) or a heaping tablespoon to drop cookies onto the baking sheets, leaving about 3 inches between them.
• Bake for about 12 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of a cookie comes out clean. Let cool completely.
Maple cream cheese filling
1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick), softened
3 ounces cream cheese
1 1/2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
With an electric mixer, combine butter and cream cheese until mixture is smooth and thoroughly combined (a couple minutes). Add syrup, vanilla and 1 cup of powdered sugar and mix. Add the rest of the powdered sugar and mix until well combined.
1/2 cup pecans
1 1/2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon brown sugar
Combine ingredients in a small pan over medium heat. Stir continuously until sugar is dissolved and pecans are thoroughly coated. Spread out on a silicone baking mat or a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and let cool. Pulse in a food processor.
Assemble whoopie pies
Set half the cookies with the flat side facing up and scoop about a tablespoon of frosting onto each one. Pair each with a plain cookie; press them gently together to distribute the filling. Roll the edges in the candied pecan crumbs.