It has been months since I have participated in a Joust, that is, The Royal Foodie Joust hosted by Jen, The Leftover Queen. The winner of the previous month's challenge, which was Susan at Sticky Gooey Creamy Chewy, chose acorn squash, oranges and sage as the three Joust ingredients. Our challenge is to use all three in a recipe, post on our blogs and then at the end of the month, fellow Leftover Queen Forum members vote for the best recipe. (You can stop by the site and see all of the entries for the month)
I have been thinking about what to make for weeks! Luckily, acorn squash is readily available at the farmers' markets now. I knew there would be savory dishes and wanted to come up with a sweet recipe, as well as challenge myself. So, these cupcakes are the result. I rarely make cupcakes, even though I know they are quite the rage. I am happy to say that I have a willing arsenal of friends and neighbors on standby, so 18 cupcakes will not be lurking in the house, begging to be eaten!
So, may I now present, my soon-to-be world famous........
Acorn Squash Spice Cupcakes with Orange Sage Buttercream Icing
makes 18 cupcakes
For the cupcakes
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup organic cane sugar
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp good cinnamon
1/2 tsp fresh grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground sage
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup skim milk
1/2 cup canola oil
1 cup acorn squash puree
toasted acorn squash seeds
Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line muffin tins with cupcake liners.
To make the acorn squash puree; cut 1 squash in half, scoop out the seeds, place in a microwave safe container with a bit of water, cover and cook until soft, in my microwave that took 9 minutes. Let cool, then scoop the cooked squash into the food processor and puree until smooth. This can be done a day in advance.
To make the cupcakes; place all the dry ingredients in a large bowl, and lightly whisk to combine. In another bowl, add the egg, milk and oil, whisking to combine. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined, do not over mix. Then add the squash puree, again stirring to combine. At this point I transfer the batter to a large 4 cup glass measure. This makes it easier to pour into the cupcake liners without spilling or dripping. Fill liners about 2/3 full.
Place the cupcakes in a preheated oven and bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack. While the cupcakes are cooling you can toast the seeds and make the icing.
To toast the seeds, place the cleaned, dry seeds on a pan and lightly spray them with olive oil. Toast at 375 degrees for about 8-10 minutes or until you just hear them pop, stirring at least once. When they are toasted, remove from the oven and immediately sprinkle with flaked sea salt. Set aside to cool completely.
For the icing
6 tbl softened butter
4 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup plus 1 tbl orange juice
zest of 1 orange
2 sage leaves, very finely chopped
Place the butter in the bowl of the mixer and beat on high until light and fluffy.
Add about half of the powdered sugar beat until incorporated, starting out a low speed, then increase slowly to high speed. Then add the other half and repeat the mixing process. In a small bowl combine the orange juice, zest and sage. Then add to the butter mixture, beating on high until fluffy. If too stiff, add a bit more oj.
Now you are ready to ice your cupcakes!
I decided to give mine the red carpet treatment and pipe the icing, very fancy, I know. After piping, I grated more orange zest and topped each with some of the salted seeds. Let me tell you, these are sooo yummy, and a little healthier than your average cupcake. So far, my tasters have given me great reviews!
Here's hoping I win the apron this month!
Before and after being zested and seeded.
This one was sacrificed in the name of quality control. A tough job, but someone has to do it!
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