Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Sweet Potato Buttermilk Spice Muffins

Lifetime Television recently premiered their new diet and nutrition based TV show, Cook Yourself Thin. Cook Yourself Thin is billed as an "all-new series, offering viewers the skills and the confidence to give their favorite indulgent meals a healthy makeover by cutting the calories and doubling the flavor!" Double the flavor you say? Bold statement indeed. I plan to devote a post in the future about this show to see if their healthy, reduced fat, flavor doubling claims can hold up in the kitchen.

A recent episode featured a busy stay at home mom who loves snacking, cupcakes and calorie laden coffee drinks. The healthful cooks offered up a new recipe for chocolate cupcakes, substituting mashed sweet potato for butter. A befuddled cook says what? You want me to believe that if you put vegetables in the choco-loveliess that is a cupcake that I won't taste a difference? I decided to put this claim to the test. I wanted to test the "butter for sweet potato" swap claim but was in the mood for a different treat.

The buttermilk spice muffins at Mimi's Cafe have recently captured my heart, and pleased my palate. They are large enough to make a great breakfast on their own or with a side of fruit, but the kind folks at Mimi's include them with their breakfast entrees. They are all that a good muffin could dream of being - light, airy, perfectly flavored and topped with a fantastic sugar crumble topping. Fortunately for me and all the other Mimi's muffin lovers, they have posted the recipe here on their site. I wanted to integrate the sweet potato for butter swap within the confines of this recipe, so another cooking adventure was born.

According to Calorie 1/2 cup of salted butter contains 800 calories and 88 grams of fat - yikes! Compare that to my substitution of 1 cup of mashed sweet potatoes at a mere 250 calories and we have a winner. Because of the additional sweetness of the sweet potatoes, I reduced the sugar in the recipe by 1/4 cup, saving 194 calories. Those two changes saves a grand total of nearly 750 calories. The real question remained, would these calorie saving swaps result in an equally tasty muffin fix?

In a word, not so much. The spice of the muffin lacked in its characteristic Cinnamon and nutmeg punch, despite using the advised amounts. The texture left something to be desired, perhaps as a side effect of over mixing when I received a phone call mid-mixing. Rookie mistake. The fragrance wafting from the oven as the muffins cooked was absolutely spot on, but sadly the muffins lacked the texture and flavor composition that I was hoping for. I haven't given up completely on the healthy swap outs and substitutions concept. I think it has a place and will redeem itself in a later recipe. For now, I will stick to my original Mimi's muffin, butter and all, and enjoy every last tasty crumble of it. As for the sweet potatoes, they will still be a welcome guest at my dinner table any time... just not in my muffins.


Steven said...

Laura, great to read that other people are trying these substitutes. I've had success with the sweet potato swap, as you coined it, and also with substituting prune and apple sauce in several recipes. I think it's a matter of trial and error but you seem very intuitive so I'm sure you'll strike the right balance. Good luck! Oh, and please post your findings! Thx.

Anonymous said...

That's too bad. These muffins really do look delicious! We love sweet potatoes, so all things sweet tater look delicious. :)

s. stockwell said...

Oh we need something like this and stay away from the croissants!! Thanks, s

TheGourmetGirl said...

Never give up! I agree with you, they do lack eye appeal, but each time you make them you'll get closer to perfection!
Thanks for sharing.

Teanna DiMicco said...

I am actually trying to work on a healthy carrot muffin and I am having the same problem but in that case, the texture is great but the flavor is really, REALLY lacking, even with a ton of spices like ginger and cinnamon! Here's to tweaking the recipe all in the name of healthy goodies!