Sweet Potato Muffins with Figs & Oatmeal

There’s an unopened bottle of champagne in my refrigerator. We had purchased it on Tues, November 8 in the hopes of celebrating the outcome of our election. It remains in the fridge because, for now, there’s nothing to celebrate. Like many others, I feel saddened, confused, and fearful for the future. While we don’t know what will happen next, we do know a man who ran a campaign based on lies and bigotry will be our next president. More than unfit, he’s dangerous. To use one of his own phrases―he’s a bad hombre. We know that a bright, capable, public servant lost this election not because people didn’t vote for her―she won the popular vote—but because of the electoral college system. I feel like our system is failing us now in big ways.

Still, I’m reminded of what President Obama said about hope. I don’t have the exact quote but the essence of his message is that the power of hope makes itself known not in the good times, but in the face of darkness. So, I reach for the hope and I will use it for power to confront the dark forces through action.

I remind myself of what a friend posted on the day after the election, partly in response to my statement that I didn’t know what I would tell my children:

I have daughters. And Donald Trump is our President. Being a mother is not easy. The love is painful. The need to protect is strong. I will teach them to live with servants’ hearts and to be good people. I will teach them to pray. To love their neighbors―all of them―white, black, Muslim, gay, straight, refugees..... humans. I will teach them to spread love. Right now, in this moment, I feel it's all I can do for our future.

I remind myself of another post that same day, by my son, who is a student in Montreal:

I know it’s a tempting solution to dealing with a Trump presidency, but I just want to say, please be considerate before posting something about leaving the US to move to Canada or elsewhere. I know I'm already in Canada, but I by no means am resigned to staying here long term. In fact, wish I was in the States right now consoling my upset mother. I'm really worried about how people in the States with marginalized identities will be affected by Trump, and I know posting about moving to Canada is not helpful to them. We are all in this together as Americans, even if we are not all in the country.

Here are some of the actions I’m taking to combat this situation:

  • Our family has joined the American Civil Liberties Union and we will actively support their work. We continue to be monthly contributors to Planned Parenthood, Doctor's Without Borders, Feeding America, and public radio.

  • I’ve been signing petitions and writing to our elected officials demanding that they take a stand against bigotry and unlawfulness in our government.

  • I’m researching local volunteer opportunities to find a way to give back more to my community.

  • Each day, I’m making a point of doing at least one kind thing for someone I don’t know—holding the door open for a mom with a baby or letting someone ahead of me at the grocery store checkout are small examples.

  • I’m joining others in wearing a safety pin as a symbol  to show support for the vulnerable and promote kindness.

Tell me about you. How are you feeling? What are you doing?

We’ll be celebrating Thanksgiving next week. It will be wonderful to come together as families and cherish all we have.

These Sweet Potato Muffins with Figs & Oatmeal will be part of our holiday weekend. I chose to make them because the sweet potatoes are grounding. Their intense, earthy flavor is sweetened by the taste of the figs while the texture of the oatmeal topping gives a bit of crunch to this otherwise silky muffin.

May you have a joy-filled Thanksgiving with friends and family. I wish you peace and, of course, hope.

I look forward to seeing you in my kitchen, gathering flavors, soon.


Thank you to B. and C. for allowing me to use your quotes here. You are inspirational.

Sweet Potato Muffins with Figs and Oatmeal

Yield: 12 Muffins


For the topping:

  • ½ cup unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small cubes
  • ¼ cup dark brown sugar
  • ¼ cup stone ground oatmeal
  • pinch sea salt

For the muffins:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • ¼ cup pure maple syrup
  • ½ cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup cooked sweet potato, peeled and mashed
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • ¼ whole milk
  • ½ cup dried figs, diced


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Place the chilled, unsalted butter, ¼ cup dark brown sugar, stone ground oatmeal, and pinch salt in a small bowl. Using your fingers, work the ingredients together until the look like coarse cornmeal. Place in the refrigerator to keep chilled while putting together the rest of the muffins.
  3. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with cupcake liners or butter generously.
  4. In a medium-size bowl, combine the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  5. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, maple syrup, and brown sugar. Add the eggs, one at a time, until fully combined.
  6. Add the dry ingredients to the wet. Stir to combine. Add the sweet potato, yogurt, and milk. Stir again just to combine. Add the chopped figs. Stir one last time.
  7. Divide the batter evenly in the prepared muffin tin. Sprinkle evenly with the chilled topping.
  8. Place in the oven and bake until golden, about 30 minutes.
  9. Remove from oven. Allow to cool slightly before removing from pan.
  10. Serve warm or at room temperature.
  11. Enjoy.


  1. Substitute chopped prunes, apricots or golden raisins for the figs, if you prefer.
  2. Store muffins in an airtight container.

One year ago: Potato and Tuna Salad

Two years ago:  Root Vegetable Relishes

Three years ago:  Thanksgiving Menus

Four years ago: Butternut Squash Pizzas

Five years ago: Cranberry Cornmeal Jewel Cake

Dena Testa Bray has been writing Gathering Flavors, a culinary blog, since 2011. She is a trained chef & ran a home based cooking school. Dena now designs websites, focusing on work with creative people. You can see her website work at www.denatestabray.net. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and family.