Thursday, October 30, 2008

Cupcake Hero: Squash

If you look over to the right, you'll see a new little cute cupcake icon. That's because, as of this month, I have decided to become a cupcake hero baker! Similar to the Iron Cupcake, I'll be assigned an ingredient each month and then bake a cupcake around that ingredient. They are all posted on the website and a winner will be announced each month. I figure if I have yet another reason to make cupcakes I should probably do it. I am SO exciteed for cupcake hero. The past ingredients have been so fun and the caliber of the entries are amazing. I can't wait for the months to come!

This month's ingredient is squash. I thought I'd try to find some insane crazy squash to use, but then I have been having dreams of a dark chocolate pumpkin cupcake even before the ingredient was announced (more on that later.) When I got to the market, the variety was so exciting I decided I couldn't just settle for plain ol' pumpkin. After perusing the winter vegetable aisle for a bit, I finally decided on a Castilla Squash.

I'm going to be honest, I think these are pretty much the same thing as a "cinderella" or "fairytale" pumpkins. They look something like this. In fact, the Castilla Squash not only looks just like a fairytale pumpkin, but the flesh is identical as well as the taste. So if any of you out there know defnitely if they are the same or not, let me know, but as of now, I'm going with yes.

(Here's a fairytale pumpkin)

(Here's my Castilla Squash--see what I mean?)

Now, back to my dream. About 6 weeks ago, I quite literally started dreaming about a pumpking cupcake with a whipped dark chocolate ganache. I woke up the next morning and told my husband all about it, thinking he'd be thrilled for me. He wasn't. He was pretty much terrified that I am now dreaming of cupcakes as well as spending the majority of my days planning them, baking them and searching the web for them at all times.

This cake has evolved since the dream a bit, mainly because I have a friend who has requested that all my future cupcakes come with a cookie crust of some kind ever since my Key Lime Cupcake. (See, Michael-- that's how much I care.) I have to say, the cookie crust really makes this one for me. The texture is what is so fantastic.

As I was baking up this recipe and contemplating my castilla squash/fairytale pumpkin debate, I couldn't help but think that if I had been Cinderella and had this pumpkin, there wouldn't have been a way to get me to the ball because my coach would have already been roasted down and pureed for this little cupcake o' heaven right here. I am now entirely convinced the only reason Cinderella went to that ball is because there wasn't any dark chocolate in the house and she needed to find a dessert buffet to drown her sorrows. Sorry, Princie, you were just a close second. Who REALLY wants to dance around all night in glass shoes anyway? Hello...can you say blisters?!

So, for all you fairytale lovers out there, I give you my cupcake squash creation in which I call:

The "Better than the Ball" Fairytale Cupcake:

Cookie Crust
1/2 package chocolate sandwich cookies
1/3 cup melted butter

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup softened butter
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup pumpkin or squash puree**

1/2 cup half and half (or heavy cream)
6 ounces of bittersweet or semi sweet chocolate-chopped ( I say either here, because not everyone is a fan of bittersweet)
1/4 cup powdered sugar

For cookie crust: Take apart and scoop cream out of sandwich cookies. Process in a food processor until fine crumbs. Melt butter. Stir butter into crumbs until thoroughly combined. Place about a tablespoon into each cupcake liner and press down. Set aside.

Heat the oven to 350ยบ and line a 12-cup muffin tin with bake cups. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and salt. Set the mixture aside.

In a separate mixing bowl, stir together the butter and sugar. Whisk in the eggs and stir in the vanilla extract.

Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and gently stir the mixture until well combined.

Stir the pumpkin into the batter until it is thoroughly combined. Spoon the batter into the cookie pressed liners. Bake for 20 minutes Let the cupcakes sit in the tin for 10 minutes and then remove to a rack to cool thoroughly.

For Ganache: In a small saucepan combine cream and chocolate. Cook and stir over low until melted and combined. Transfer to a small glass bowl, let cool until thickened. Add powdered sugar and whip until thick and spreadable. Spread/pipe onto cooled cupcakes.

**To make pumpkin puree: Roast or steam squash until very soft. Scrape out of skin. Place in food processor and pulse until very smooth.

This is so delicious, I promise you'll love it. It's the perfect flavor and texture combination of pumpkin and chocolate. The cookie crust is crumbly and crunchy, the cake is dense and moist and the whipped ganache is rich and creamy. One bite and you'll never be able to look at Cinderella's coach the same way again.


Debbie said...

When do I get to try one???? Oh my that looks to die for!!! You are truly amazing Vanessa. And tell John at least you are dreaming about cupcakes, it could be worse!!! :)

y0hmama said...

Those were great - but the cookie crust is what definitely puts the twist in it and ups the yum factor :)

Michael M. said...

Indulge me for a minute.

I love/ loved the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Every once in a while Shredder (the ultimate TMNT villain) would come up with a nefarious plan to find an irresistible new snack that the world would love. After finding this snack he would spike it with some sort of brain altering chemical to control the minds of all who ate it. His target, naturally, would be the food loving mutant turtles. This plan would always succeed, only to be foiled by Splinter (the mutant rat leader of the ninja turtles) who was a party pooper and never ate the treats.

My point for telling this story is that if I were Shredder, I would put the mind controlling substance in these cupcakes and control the world within hours of distribution.

Julie said...

I am already so sad that I left! I should have picked up one of these babies on my way out of town!

Irish said...

These look yummy ... will definately try them .... OH and the new layout looks great !!!!

joanna said...

If I can't find a Cinderella pumpkin, would any old pumpkin work?

Meaghan said...

I totally agree about the cookie crust! Those key lime cupcakes were awesome. (I voted for it twice) These look delicious too.

Debbie said...

are you bringing these to recipe exchange? PLEASE???