Certain flavors are unexepectedly harmonious in ways you might never expect. Some people add curry powder to brownies, others add feta cheese to their watermelon, I combine hardy knots of winter squash with crispy amaretti.
Yet, this is not necessarily a new combination; in Italy and now in the United States it has become an increasingly popular filling for ravioli in the winter, and is often served with a nutty cream sauce. As strange as cookies in pasta sounds the flavor is spontaneous and endearing to the senses. So, when a flavor combination is this delightful, how can I not make it into a cupcake?
Crispy amaretti are hunted game in this household, their airy bodies musky with the scent of almonds make them a favorite prey for the cookie hungry. Come autumn it's also common to see my squash bowl out, an old wire basket I once picked up at an antique store that holds the obtuse produce throughout the chilly months until I end up carving, baking, pureeing and dicing them into manageable portions for whatever recipe.
Taking these two strong flavors and combining them is a task any adventurous baker should try. Two flavors that are like fall winds mixing and swirling into each other becoming one unified force with more body, more spirit than when they were apart.
Even if it's not this recipe, grind some amaretti cookies into dust and add them to pumpkin pie or bread. Go on. You'll see, I'm right. Then you'll come and thank me and want to try this cupcake recipe even more.
Amaretti Butternut Squash Cupcakes
Makes about 24 cupcakes / 350 F oven
I decided to revisit my first ever original cupcake, Butternut Squash with Sage Frosting and Allspice, and use the same base with a few little alterations. I ground up a few of the cookies into the batter in lieu of actually using almond extract in fear it would overtake the squash. The cake is fantastic.
1 large butternut squash (for 2 cups of puree)
4 large eggs, lightly beaten, room temperature
1 cup of butter, room temperature
1 cup of granulated sugar
1 cup of brown sugar
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon of baking powder
2 cups of flour
1/3 cup of finely ground amaretti cookies
What You'll Do...
1. Quarter and seed the squash. Place in a dish with 1/4 cup of water and bake for 40 minutes at 350 degrees. Let cool, scoop out (no skins!) then puree in a food processor or blender.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and crushed amaretti cookies. Set aside.
3. In a large bowl, whisk together sugars, eggs, and butter. Add dry ingredients and whisk until smooth. Whisk in butternut puree.
4. Divide batter evenly among liners, filling each about halfway. Bake at 350 F until tops spring back when touched, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 18-22 minutes. Rotate pans once if needed. Transfer to a wire rack to let cool.
5) Frost with buttercream and top with an amaretti cookie.
What You'll Need...
1 cup butter, room temperature
4 cups of powdered sugar
1/4 cup of milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
What You'll Do...
1. Cream the butter until soft.
2. Add the sugar and then the milk and extract. Cream till soft. Spread on cool cupcakes.
This recipe also makes for a great layer cake. Just use cake pans and increase the time to 35-40 minutes.
If you don't want to use butternut puree', 2 cups of pumpkin puree' from a can also tastes great!