The unexpected. For better or worse, the unexpected is what makes life interesting; a rainbow, the glimpse of wildlife, a call from an old friend, a drop-dead delicious meal at a roadside dive, can all take the monotony out of everyday life.
Recipes are like that too. Sometimes I look at a recipe and think, how in the world are those ingredients EVER going to taste good together? But they do. Other times, I get side-tracked and forget to add something, expecting disaster, but the result are magical. Today's recipe is an example of both phenomenons, for while the original recipe made me cringe with doubt after reading through it, I made it anyway and stumbled through, leaving things out left and right. Mistakes can be delightful, and errors can create a tasty treat!
One note about butternut squash: these little devils are tough to handle. The outer skin is thick and tough. If you find a recipe that tells you to peel a butternut, don't do it. Its the quickest way to cut yourself. The best way to get the puree you'll need is to carefully lop off each end (top and bottom), then stand it up on its cut bottom, and slice it in half, from top to bottom. Scrape the seeds and guts out, and place the halves face down on an oiled sheet pan. Roast for 45-60 minutes or until tender. Scoop out the soft flesh and discard the shell.
Butternut Spice Cupcakes with Brown Butter Frosting
2 1/2 c. butternut squash puree
2 c. cake or pastry flour. All purpose is ok if that's all you have. Gluten free Cup 4 Cup can be substituted at 100%.
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp allspice
1 tsp cinnamon
2 c. white sugar
1/2 c. melted butter or canola oil
2 tsp vanilla
Preheat the oven to 350. Sift dry ingredients together. Mix the eggs, sugar, liquid fat, and vanilla together. Combine the wet and dry ingredients and stir to incorporate. Line muffin tin with cupcake papers, and scoop batter into them, about 3/4 full. Bake for 10 minutes, the rotate your pan, then bake and additional 10 minutes or until the tops are set and resistant to the touch- or until a skewer comes out cleanly.
You can substitute the butternut puree for almost anything. Pumpkin or acorn squash can be used, as well as apple, plum or pear sauces. But I really like the light gourd flavor of the butternut; it doesn't overpower the cake, and it produces a light, tender product, without too much fat.
Brown Butter Frosting
2 sticks butter
2 8 oz packages regular cream cheese
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
In a skillet, simmer the butter until it begins to brown, and has a rich, nutty aroma. Spread the brown butter in a shallow dish and place in the fridge or freezer to cool. Once its cold, add all 3 ingredients together and beat with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.