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These butternut squash muffins are the perfect treat for Fall! Butternut squash has a taste similar to that of pumpkins. I've usually only enjoyed it as a soup or in a sautéed dish so I was very excited to explore it's use in muffins.

Note: This recipe makes approximately 20 muffins.

Step 1: Ingredients

To make these delicious muffins you will need the following ingredients:

- For the cupcakes:

  • 2 cups of butternut squash
  • 2 1/4 cups brown sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Handful of walnuts, chopped
  • Sea salt

- For the topping:

  • 1 clementine, zested
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 tbsp powdered sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped out
  • lavender flowers

- For the pumpkin toppers:

  • Phyllo dough
  • orange food coloring
  • pumpkin cookie cutter

In making these muffins, I drew from the following two recipes for instruction:

* Jamie Oliver, http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/jamie-oliver/bu...

* cezeigler (allrecipes.com) http://allrecipes.com/recipe/perfect-butternut-squ...

Step 2: Prepare & Cook the Butternut Squash

To prepare the butternut squash you will first need to cut a 1/2 inch hole in the larger part of the squash and cover it with a paper towel. Then, microwave it for 9-12 minutes or until the squash can be easily pierced with a fork. Microwave it in 3 minute increments, being sure to periodically rotate the squash. Set it aside to cool. Slice the squash lengthwise and scrap out the seeds. Then, scrape out enough tenderized butternut squash to fill two cups.

Source: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/perfect-butternut-squ...

Step 3: Mix the Muffin Batter

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine the butternut squash and sugar in a large mixing bowl, add in the eggs. Then, add a pinch of salt, the flour, baking powder, walnuts, cinnamon, and olive oil. Mix well.

Step 4: Fill & Bake

Spoon the batter into the muffin cups, about 3/4 ths full. Bake in the preheated oven for 15 - 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Step 5: Make the Frosted Cream Topping

Zest the clementine and lemon and place into a small mixing bowl. Set aside some of the zested clementine for decorating. Squeeze the juice of 1/2 of the lemon into the bowl. Add the sour cream and powdered sugar.

For the vanilla seeds, slice the vanilla pod in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds with a knife. Add these and mix well.

Taste the mixture and add more lemon juice or powdered sugar as desired. I ended up adding more powdered sugar and a bit more sour cream for the right balance.

Step 6: Create Pumpkin Toppers

I wanted to create a festive pumpkin topper and happened to have some phyllo dough. I think pie crust would work just as well or even better. After laying out the dough, I painted on some orange food coloring. Then, using a small, pumpkin shaped cookie cutter I cut out five pumpkin shapes from the dough. I then placed these on parchment paper on a baking sheet and baked them in the oven until crisp. The layers of dough ended up separating so in the end I really only used the top layer with the food coloring.

Step 7: Frost the Muffins

After the muffins have cooled, spoon some of the topping onto each one. Be careful to not add too much so that it doesn't spill down the sides.

Step 8: Decorate the Muffins

Now for the especially fun part! Sprinkle the clementine zest that you placed aside onto each muffin. Then, add some touches of dried lavender. Finally, place a pumpkin shape on each. I found that because these were made from thin layers of phyllo dough, the light shines through them beautifully.

Step 9: Enjoy and Have a Happy Fall Season!

<p>Thanks for sharing. Never would have thought of squash :D</p>
<p>Thanks for sharing. Never would have thought of squash :D</p>
<p>They're beautiful!! :D</p>
<p>These are so gorgeous and delicious looking! I love butternut squash, but I've never thought of doing this with them, I'll have to try it!</p>
<p>So delicious sounding! I love the little decorations on top, so cute! Thanks for sharing!</p>

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