by guest contributor Kathie Lapcevic
I’m always on the hunt for a tasty alternative to pumpkin pie for my Thanksgiving table. I enjoy pumpkin pie, don’t get me wrong, but sometimes I just want something a little different. This year the garden blessed us with lots of winter squash and so I’ve been experimenting with ideas for Thanksgiving dessert in addition to the many variations of squash soup. I’ve finally settled on these cupcakes as my Thanksgiving dessert and seasonal pot luck offerings for the weeks ahead. The cupcakes are tasty, combining the lovely fall pumpkin (winter squash) flavor with the perennial favorite of chocolate (both of which are brightened with some citrus flavor), and the crunchy nuts on top give the cupcake a little textural depth reminiscent of pecan pie.
Squash and Chocolate Swirled Cupcakes with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting & Candied Pecans
Note: Most any roasted pureed winter squash would be wonderful. You could, of course, used canned pumpkin but your homegrown buttercup, butternut, or other winter squash would be just as lovely.
¾ cup butter, softened
1 ½ cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¾ cup roasted & pureed winter squash
1 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
½ cup unbleached, all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cocoa
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon Salt
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin tin with cupcake papers.
- Sift together the dry ingredients for the squash batter into a small bowl. Set aside.
- Sift together the ingredients for the chocolate batter into a large mixing bowl. Set aside.
- Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs and vanilla, mixing until well combined. Pour half of this batter into the mixing bowl with the dry ingredients for the chocolate batter. Set the chocolate batter aside for the moment.
- Add the pureed squash to the batter remaining in the first bowl. Mix well. Add the sifted dry squash ingredients and beat until everything is well combined, set aside.
- Beat together the ingredients for the chocolate batter until thoroughly combined.
- Fill your cupcake papers by alternating layers of pumpkin and chocolate batters in each cup. Fill the cups about 3/4th full. You can swirl the batters by running a knife through the batter, as well.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
- Allow the cupcakes to cool in the pan for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.
- While the cupcakes cool, make the candied pecans and frosting.
½ cup chopped pecans
¼ cup sugar
1 tablespoon butter
Scant ¼ teaspoon salt
Combine the pecans, sugar, and butter in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat until the butter and sugar begins to melt. Stir to make sure the nuts are completely coated and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar turns golden brown. Spread the hot nut mixture onto parchment or wax paper to cool. While still warm, sprinkle the nuts with the salt. Allow to cool completely, and then break up into small pieces.
Orange Cream Cheese Frosting:
6 ounces cream cheese, softened
4 tablespoons butter, softened
Zest of 1 orange
2 to 4 tablespoons orange juice
5 cups powdered sugar
Cream together the cream cheese, butter, and orange zest until light. Add the powdered sugar and 2 Tablespoons of orange juice. Slowly mix until combined, add more orange juice as necessary to achieve the frosting consistency desired.
Spread or pipe the frosting onto cooled cupcakes and sprinkle with the candied pecans. Store in an airtight container. Makes 16 cupcakes.
About the contributor: Kathie Lapcevic is a writer, teacher, and homebody who lives in northwest Montana with her soul mate, Jeff. Kathie blogs at www.twofroghome.com and her cookbook, Gift It From Scratch will be released in 2011 by Willow Creek Press.