Sweet Potato and Five-Spice Muffins

For my birthday last week, my friends got me Gwyneth Paltrow's newest cookbook, It's All Good. I think they were hoping that I might make them many of the recipes out of it, which I am happy to do. I immediately started tearing through the pages and marking recipes that looked especially tasty. In typical fashion, I had bookmarked almost every breakfast recipe, especially the sweet potato and five-spice muffins. 
 Let me preface this by saying that these muffins were not quick and were not cheap to make. All (or almost) of Gwyneth's recipes in this cookbook are gluten-free, dairy-free, and sugar-free and those are ingredients that I usually rely on when baking. This called for a trip to Whole Foods to stock up on the approved items for this cookbook, like gluten-free flour and high quality maple syrup. These things do not come cheap, but $70 later I was ready to tackle most of Gwyneth's cookbook. 

Half-way through the baking process I started to worry that I was putting a lot of time and money in to something that might turn out awful. As these muffins came out of the oven, I braced myself as I bit in to the first one, only to be amazed at how good they really were. Not only did they smell like Christmas, but they tasted like a crisp, fall day and went perfect with a glass of milk and an overcast day. 

What You Need
1 large sweet potato 
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil 
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
3/4 cup good-quality maple syrup or xylitol, plus 2 extra tablespoons for brushing the muffins 
1 tsp pure vanilla extract 
2 cups gluten-free flour (if the flour doesn’t include xanthan gum, add 1 tsp) 
2 tsp baking powder 
2 tsp baking soda 
1½ tbsp chinese five-spice (found in speciality spice stores) 
½ tsp fine sea salt

What You Do

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Prick the sweet potato a few times with a paring knife or a fork. Bake until soft (when a paring knife can cut through with no resistance), about one hour. Set the sweet potato aside until it’s completely cool (I placed mine in the refrigerator to speed up the process)
2. Peel the sweet potato, discard the skin, and mash the flesh in a mixing bowl with a fork. Whisk the olive oil, almond milk, maple syrup or xylitol, and vanilla into the sweet potato. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, five-spice powder, and salt. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.
3. Line a 12 hole muffin tin with paper cases and evenly distribute the muffin batter among them. 
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean, brushing the tops with the extra maple syrup during the last five minutes of baking. Let the muffins cool before serving.

I love these muffins and have only gotten rave reviews from my favorite food critics (my roommates and boyfriend). They are perfect to grab on your way out the door to be enjoyed at your desk with coffee on a busy work morning. I hope my coworkers love them too!
More Gwyneth-approved food to come.

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