Well, I am officially on my fourth week back home in good ol’ Brattleboro, Vermont. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love this place. Vermont is truly a state like no other. This is, after all, where I cultivated my love and interest for food and all things related – in a tiny, eclectic town with a Coop that rivals the size of our Price Chopper (but, seriously check out their website, sometimes they post cool stuff, like this article ).
However, fancy Coops aside, things have started to get a little dull. Vermont is beautiful during the winter, but if you aren’t willing to strap yourself into skis or don’t fancy ten degree weather it can be a little boring. And my favorite part of Vermont during the warmer months, my wonderful, luscious garden, is buried under three feet of not-so-fresh snow. Oh how life would be different if I could run into the garden, load up on wild blueberries and fresh thyme to roll into a flaky pie crust.
Whether you get your produce from the ground, a green market, or supermarket its much easier to feel culinary inspiration when the fruits and veggies are looking a little livelier. However, there are plenty of fun and creative ways to utilize winter produce – even in baking, as I’ve recently learned in some boredom induced, kitchen experimentation. Butternut squash may not be as popular as raspberries, but it makes a mean muffin and you can feel good that instead of paying four bucks for a pint of wilted berries shipped in from god-knows-where, you’re making a responsible, seasonally appropriate decision.
Anyway, I encourage you all to try out this recipe, which I’ve adapted from Heidi Swanson’s website (check it out if you haven’t – it rocks) and her Brown Butter Spice Cake Recipe. Basically, I made it a muffin because that’s more fun and tinkered with a few ingredients. Here you go!
1/2 C melted coconut oil
1.5 C whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp cardamon
1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/8 tsp paprika
few grinds of black pepper
3/4 C cane sugar, plus more for topping
1/4 C brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 C butternut squash pureed together with raisins
1/4 C almond milk
½ C thin sliced almonds
chopped chili infused chocolate to taste
½ tsp molasses whisked with water and ½ tsp honey
Start by preheating your oven 350 and oiling and flouring a muffin tin. Now, prepare the almonds. Measure out about ½ C of thin sliced almonds and toast them in your oven. Toast them well, within an inch of their life. Toast them so they are just burnt, but not to a charred mess. Combine flour, baking soda, spices, and salt in a large bowl. In a small bowl whisk together the sugar, eggs, puree, milk, and coconut oil. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and fold in almonds and chocolate chunks to taste.
Whisk together molasses, honey, and water and use the back of the spoon to spread on top of muffins when batter is poured into pan. Top with cane sugar and more burnt almond slices. Bake for 25-30 mins, until a knife stuck in the middle comes out clean, but do not over cook – you want to retain the moistness the puree lends to this recipe.
Have more butternut squash than can fit into a muffin? Do not fear! The reason I made these in the first place was to use up some leftovers from this delicious recipe . Got even more leftover? I had even more leftover too (wow, squashes are big). I sautéed mine in a pan with some butter, raisins, salt, pepper, and shredded coconut than mixed it together with some carrots I roasted in olive oil with oregano, mint, and cilantro. Enjoy!