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Butternut squash muffins are muffins with mashed butternut squash added to the batter. Though not very popular in most restaurants, these flavorful, autumn-harvest muffins can be a nutritious treat for the home baker. Muffin batter flavors for butternut squash muffins may be anything from vanilla and cinnamon to orange. Home bakers may also add extra ingredients to butternut squash muffins to add flavor and extra nutritional value.
Almost all butternut squash muffins start with mashed butternut squash. Grocery stores may sell commercial versions of this ingredient right next to the canned pumpkin. Specialty and organic stores may also sell butternut squash butters and pie mixes. These may give butternut squash muffins an instantly delicious flavor because many of them already have spices and sugar mixed into them.
Another option involves making mashed butternut squash at home. This is usually a simple matter of peeling the squash, slicing it from top to bottom and removing the seeds. The flesh is then usually cubed and simmered in water over medium heat until it can be mashed easily with a spoon or other utensil. A vegetable peeler often works well for removing the rind, but some cooks may prefer large, claw-like peelers specifically designed for peeling winter squash. These peelers are usually available in kitchen specialty stores.
Once softened, home bakers should drain the squash cubes and return them to the hot pan. This helps any excess water evaporate and often keeps the mashed mixture from becoming runny. Some cooks like to push the squash through a food mill or ricer, while others simply stir it with a fork or potato masher until it becomes a thick, dense paste. At this point, the squash should be ready to go into butternut squash muffins.
Many health-conscious bakers like butternut squash muffins because the moisture from the squash allows them to leave out some, or all, of the butter usually necessary for baking. The mashed mixture typically gives the muffins a dense, pleasant texture that eliminates the need for extra ingredients. Cooks should use their discretion when mixing batter, though. If it doesn’t seem thick enough, an extra spoonful of squash or a few cubes of butter could be just what it needs.
Appropriate spices and additions to butternut squash muffins are usually quite varied. Harvest muffins might include sliced apples and pears, cranberries, figs, or dates. Cornmeal might replace much of the flour for a slightly crunchy muffin. A drizzle of caramel frosting on the top often brings out the sweet flavor of the squash, while a sprinkling of powdered sugar adds just a dash of extra sweetness.
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