I love it when a baking experiment turns out better than you ever expected. That’s exactly what happened when I decided one day to bake sweet potato bars with maple frosting.
Sweet potatos weren’t originally planned for the 12 Days of Holiday Brownies, Blondies, and Bars series. But one day I found myself with LOTS of extra walnuts, an extra sweet potato, and dessert bars on the brain. And since sweet potato cupcakes are pretty fantastic, dessert bars aren’t really that much of a stretch.
Ground walnuts in the batter help to create a texture like a dense cake. Chopped walnuts throughout the cake add a bit of crunch, and the sweet potato flavor isn’t lost at all in the mix.
The frosting caused more frustration than I’d like to admit. The first two attempts at making a buttercream with real maple syrup were completely disastrous. None of the usual tricks could save that frosting. It either ended up tasting like a plain buttercream, or was grainy and loose from all the syrup. In the end, maple flavored extract came to the rescue. And I’m fine with that. After all, what’s a little experimentation without some on-the-job learning.
Sweet Potato Bars with Maple Frosting
Sweet Potato Bars
- 1/2 C butter, room temperature
- 1/2 C brown sugar
- 1 egg & 1 egg yolk, room temp
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 C cooked mashed sweet potato
- 1 C All Purpose flour
- 1 C finely ground walnuts (approx 1.25C walnut pieces before grinding)
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 t salt
- 1 t ground cinnamon
- 1 t ground ginger
- 1/2 t ground nutmeg
- 1/4 t ground cloves
- 1/2 C milk, room temp
- 1/4 C chopped walnuts
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare a 9×13 cake pan with parchment paper.
- In a stand mixer, beat together the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in the eggs, one at a time. Add vanilla extract and sweet potatoes.
- In a large bowl, whisk together flour, ground walnuts, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves.
- Slowly add half the flour mixture to wet ingredients, stirring until just combined. Mix in the milk and then add the remaining flour mixture.
- Fold in 1/4 C chopped walnuts.
- Spread into prepared pan and bake for 15 – 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the pan comes out clean.
- Cool completely before frosting with maple buttercream.
Maple Buttercream Frosting
- 1/2 C (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2 cup powdered sugar
- 1 1/4 tsp maple syrup flavoring
- 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 Tbsp whipping cream
- Prepare a stand mixer with a whisk attachment.
- Whisk together 1/2 C butter & 1/2 C powdered sugar at medium speed
- Add remaining powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time until well blended.
- Add salt and maple syrup flavoring 1/4 tsp at a time until desired flavor. Whisk in vanilla extract and whisk to combine
- Add whipping cream 1 tablespoon at a time and whip at high speed until frosting is light and fluffy.
When would you serve sweet potato bars with maple frosting?
What is your favorite sweet potato dessert?