Although the sweet potato has become a permanent fixture in the world of crispy french fries, this potato has a lot more potential than just being matchstick-ed.

These starchy vegetables, also known as kumara or yams, are a distant relative to the household potato. These typically orange-hued gems hold a generous supply of beta-carotene, vitamin B5, B6 and manganese.

Fries? Check. Health benefits? Check. So, where else can we go with this sweet spud?

Here are three great recipes to get your sweet buds tingling:

Sweet Potato Cupcakes
Makes 15 cupcakes

3½ cups (350g) sweet potatoes, peeled and grated
1½ cups (185 g) flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp sea salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 orange, zested
2 eggs
2/3 cup (140 g) sugar
1/3 cup (70 g) brown sugar
½ cup (120 mL) canola oil
2 tsp (10 mL) vanilla extract
¼ cup (60 mL) fresh orange juice (½ an orange)
1/3 cup (80 mL) buttermilk

1. Preheat oven to 350º F. Line cupcake pan with liners.
2. Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon into a medium bowl. Add the orange zest into the flour mixture and set aside.
3. In a large bowl, beat 2 eggs just until blended. Add sugars to eggs and beat until light and frothy — about 2 minutes.
4. Add the vanilla extract, orange juice and oil, and beat another 2 minutes.
5. Add flour in 3 parts, alternating with buttermilk in 2 parts. Fold in the grated sweet potato.
6. Scoop batter into cupcake pan and bake for 20 – 25 minutes or until centre springs back and a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let cool.

Coconut Sweet Potato Ice Cream
Makes 1 litre

1 can (400 mL) coconut milk
1¼ cup (300 mL) cream
1 small sweet potato, peeled, small cubed
¼ cup (60 mL) maple syrup
35 g fresh ginger, peeled, small cubes
20 g fresh turmeric, peeled, small cubes
6 egg yolks
Pinch sea salt

1. Add all ingredients (except for eggs) to a medium pot over medium-low heat, and gently simmer until the sweet potato is cooked (approximately 1 hour).
2. Remove turmeric and ginger pieces. Puree the remaining ingredients with a hand blender. Return to low heat.
3. Whisk egg yolks in a medium bowl. Wrap a towel around the base of the bowl.
4. Slowly add 1/3 of the sweet potato mixture to the eggs while constantly whisking.
5. Return egg mixture to the pot and increase the heat to medium, constantly stirring until the liquid coats the back of a spoon — about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and strain through a fine mesh sieve. Let cool.
6. Refrigerate until cold, and process in your ice cream maker (follow your maker’s instructions).

White Chocolate Sweet Potato Pudding
Serves 6

55 g sweet potato, peeled and cubed
¼ cup (60 mL) rum
3 anise seeds
1/3 cup (65 g) dark brown sugar
Pinch sea salt
1½ cup (375 mL) whole milk
½ cup cream
4 egg yolks
1 Tbs cornstarch
¼ cup (60 mL) whole milk
1½ tsp vanilla extract
½ cup (85 g) white chocolate
Whipped cream to garnish

1. Add first 7 ingredients to a small pot and cook over medium-low heat until potatoes are soft, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
2. Remove anise seeds. Puree mixture and return to medium-high heat.
3. Add egg yolks to a medium bowl and whisk to break up yolks. Add cornstarch and sugar to the eggs, whisking constantly until the mixture is thick and pale yellow.
4. Add the milk (¼ cup) to the egg mixture and whisk to combine. Wrap a towel around the base of the bowl.
5. Slowly pour 1/3 of the sweet potato mixture into the egg mixture, whisking constantly. Pour egg mixture back into the pot and continue to cook over medium-high heat for another 5 minutes, (whisking continuously) until the mixture is thick. Remove from heat.
6. Add the white chocolate and whisk until melted and combined. Strain and spoon into serving dishes.
7. Refrigerate 4 hours or overnight. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream.

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