Butternut Squash Olive Oil Muffins
Butternut squash olive oil muffins are moist, sweet little treats. I chose butternut squash as the main flavoring of this muffin batter for two reasons. First, butternut squash is available year-round, and second, its texture is perfect for these sweets. I picked a ripe butternut squash that felt heavy, so the flesh was intense-orange with a sweet and nutty flavor. I steamed the squash, then turned it into a puree. Butternut squash imparts an added natural sweetness similar to sweet potatoes and pumpkin, without being stringy.
I also mixed in chopped dark chocolate for a more decadent effect. And instead of using regular softened butter, I used olive oil for an extra kick of flavor. I baked them in oval mini muffin pans and ended up with 40 muffins, so we took half of the batch to the office in the morning and shared them with Lulu's co-workers. I got back an empty pan, so they must have turned out OK!
Yields: 40 oval muffins2 eggs, at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon pure lemon extract (optional)
6 tablespoons olive oil (or any other vegetable oil)
3/4 cup brown sugar
½ butternut squash
1 cup sour cream
3 ounces semi-sweet baking chocolate (optional)
Prepping the chocolate: Using a sharp knife, coarsely chop the chocolate.
Steaming the butternut squash:
Peel and dice the butternut squash into 1-½" to 2" cubes.
In a pot with a steamer, add some cold water. Place the cubed butternut squash in the insert and cover with a lid. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a gentle simmer. Steam for about 45 minutes until softened. Check the liquid periodically and add more water if needed. Remove the squash from the steamer and allow to cool.
Place the butternut squash in a food processor and blend until coarsely puréed. Gather about 1-½ cups.
Making olive oil muffin batter:
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
In a mixing bowl, beat the eggs with the granulated sugar. You'll get a pale yellow foam and the texture of the egg will be thicker. Add the vanilla extract.
In a separate bowl, combine the flour, 3/4 teaspoon of salt, baking soda and baking powder. Sift all the dry ingredients.
Add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture. Mix well. Add the brown sugar, lemon extract (if used), sour cream, olive oil and butternut squash purée. Finish with pieces of chocolate (if used).
Place the muffin liners into the cavities of a mini oval muffin pan. Place about 2-3 tablespoons of the butternut squash muffin batter into the muffin liners.
Bake the muffins for 5 minutes at 375°F, then lower the temperature to 350°F and bake for another 25 minutes.
Remove from the oven. Allow to cool a little.
The addition of small pieces of chocolate is optional but I think the extra chocolate flavor is pleasant. I used a Valrhona baking chocolate bar. I bought it at a local store called the Milk Pail Market. The address is 2585 California Street, Mountain View, CA 94040.
You can bake the mini cupcakes in a bigger cake pan but I find them more appealing as bite-size treats. You can find oval-shaped muffin liners at Daiso, the Japanese version of a 99-cent store. They cost $1.50. If you live in the Bay Area, you should check out this store; they have a lot of interesting items made in Japan and Korea.March 23, 2011.