Spiced Butternut Squash Cupcakes

Yes, you read that correctly. I put butternut squash in a cupcake. It’s really not that far fetched… You shred raw butternut squash and stir it into the batter similar to a carrot or zucchini cake.

I have been following Mary at the Food Librarian for quite some time now. Have you seen her blog? It’s awesome. Well she loves bundt cakes and celebrates National Bundt Day (Nov 15 in case you missed it) by making 30 bundts in a I Like Big Bundts challenge leading up to the 15th. I love watching her bundts pop up every day and always since some Sir Mix Alot in my head while reading about her bundts. I was bummed I couldn’t make a bundt to participate this year, but maybe I will next year.

Sorry for all the rambling. The point is, I saw this bundt recipe in Mary’s blog for a bundt with butternut squash in it. I was hoping to find a great dessert recipe that used butternut squash to feature this week as an interesting twist to butternut squash. I knew this was my recipe the second I saw the pictures.

And to top it off, I love trying new flavors and ingredients and I had never had crystalized ginger. I took a bite of the ginger by itself and I wasn’t a fan. But when combined with the cupcake, the spiced frosting, and the ginger on top, it was perfect.

I can’t fully describe how awesome these cupcakes were, but they were definitely one of my favorites of all time. The cake is very moist and tender. The frosting and ginger compliment the cake with a hint of nutmeg and ginger. Basically they’re awesome and you should make them.

One Year Ago: Caramel Almond Cranberry Tart and Cranberry Apple Pumpkin Muffins
Two Years Ago: Chocolate Chunk Cookies

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Spiced Butternut Squash Cupcakes

Yield: 24


For the Cupcakes
4 oz (1/2 cup or 1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
13 1/2 oz. (3 cups) flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 eggs
1 Tbsp white vinegar
2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 1/4 cups peeled and grated butternut squash (about 8 oz.)

For the Frosting
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 - 2 1/2 cups Confectioners’ sugar
pinch salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tbsp buttermilk
1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1/4 cup crystallized ginger, chopped


For the Cupcakes
Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 325. Place 24 cupcake liners in muffin pans.

In a large bowl with a hand mixer or in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until well combined, about 1 minute.

Add the oil and applesauce and beat until combined, about 15 seconds.

Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well on low speed.

Add the vinegar and vanilla and mix again until just combined.

Add half of the flour and the baking soda, salt, ginger, and nutmeg, mixing on low speed until just combined.

Add half of the buttermilk and mix until just combined. Repeat with the remaining flour and buttermilk.

Stir the squash into the batter and transfer the batter to the prepared cupcake pans.

Bake until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 22-25 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack.

For the Frosting
In standing mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat butter at medium-high speed until smooth, about 20 seconds.

Add confectioners’ sugar and salt; beat at medium-low speed until most of the sugar is moistened, about 45 seconds. Scrape down bowl and beat at medium speed until mixture is fully combined, about 15 seconds.

Scrape bowl, add vanilla, nutmeg, and buttermilk, and beat at medium speed until incorporated, about 10 seconds, then increase speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes, scraping down bowl once or twice.

Once cupcakes have cooled completely, pipe frosting onto each one. Top with chopped crystallized ginger.

Recipe inspired by The Food Librarian
Cake Recipe from Fine Cooking
Frosting Recipe adapted from my go-to vanilla frosting

Boston area readers, don’t forget that I’m selling pies for Pie In the Sky. The cost of your pie will feed someone in need for an entire week! Please consider buying a pie for a good cause.

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16 Responses to “Winter Kale and Quinoa Salad”

  1. #
    Kelsey — January 12, 2013 at 10:02 am

    I’m with you–every ingredient in this salad is a winner on it’s own. Together? Forgetaboutit! The colors are beautiful and I can imagine how great it tastes with the balance of bitter, sweet, and tart.

    Love the new layout, also. Way to go!

  2. #
    Wicked Goodies — January 12, 2013 at 9:54 pm

    Yum! I am also addicted to kale since doing a CSA here in Boston 🙂

  3. #
    Jill McOwen — January 12, 2013 at 10:45 pm

    It’s so funny, because as I was scrolling through Tastespotting tonight and saw this post, I had to click because it looked so familiar to my winter couscous bowl… and then, I couldn’t believe it when I saw my blog credited at the bottom! This is a first for me 🙂 Thanks so much for the credit!

    So you’ve recently moved back to Cincinnati? Which part? My family and I live in Anderson Township.

    • beantownbaker — January 13th, 2013 @ 10:02 am

      Thanks so much for the recipe!!

      We work in West Chester and are living in Oakley right now. Trying to find a house at some point…

  4. #
    Megan — January 13, 2013 at 9:28 pm

    I think this sounds amazing, Jen! And I love how colorful it is. I am always looking for new winter salads that are colorful, flavorful, and interesting.

    • beantownbaker — January 13th, 2013 @ 10:06 pm

      This is definitely colorful, flavorful, and interesting. I have seriously been OBSESSED with pomegranates this winter, and this salad totally feeds into that obsession.

  5. #
    Sues — January 14, 2013 at 7:39 am

    I’m on a major quinoa AND kale kick so this salad is right up my alley. So colorful and pretty, too!

    • beantownbaker — January 14th, 2013 @ 3:47 pm

      Pretty food is definitely always tastier than ugly food 🙂

  6. #
    Shannon — January 14, 2013 at 1:29 pm

    looks a lot like the one i posted last week 🙂 obviously, i’m all over it!!

    • beantownbaker — January 14th, 2013 @ 3:48 pm

      Very similar indeed!

  7. #
    Michelle — January 14, 2013 at 2:10 pm

    This is perfect for that kale and pomegranate I have in the fridge! I’m always excited to find new things to put together ahead of time for lunches and dinners, thanks! Hope you are settling in nicely 🙂

    • beantownbaker — January 14th, 2013 @ 3:49 pm

      I couldn’t agree more. Making food ahead of time saves the day during the week! I can’t imagine not eating leftovers… Things are going pretty well for us in Ohio so far. Hope things are going well for you and your little bundle on the way!

  8. #
    Cara — January 14, 2013 at 7:40 pm

    Sounds great to me! I love the ingredients. And the colors 🙂

  9. #
    ErinsFoodFiles — January 17, 2013 at 1:25 pm

    This sounds right up my alley! YUM!!

  10. #
    Sarah — November 1, 2013 at 9:33 pm

    I was thinking about an easy and colorful, flavorful, and power-packed healthy side dish to bring for a potluck lunch after a trail work party this coming weekend. I had these amazing cute pumpkins to harvest from my garden and love both kale and quinoa. I thought to myself, mmmm, what if I made some kind of pumpkin kale quinoa and goat cheese salad to share? One quick internet search and I came across this gem! I modified and concocted a tad, which is normal for me. Thanks so much for the recipe and ingredient confirmations! The honey, olive oil, and smokey / spicy combo was the secret ingredient for me! Happy fooding!

    • beantownbaker — November 3rd, 2013 @ 12:35 pm

      Glad you enjoyed it! I am always tweaking recipes to make them fit what I have on hand and what we like too.

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