In the midst of one of the busiest weeks ever, I’ve found solace in a recipe that tastes as gorgeous as it looks. These Butternut Squash Muffins were a last minute addition to a huge party I hosted this past weekend. I prefer to serve dishes I have made over and over again, so you know what you get. But Jamie Oliver is gorgeous and his luscious moves as he whipped this together begged me to give it a quick try before the party started. Thank goodness! They were well-received by all; and, I’ve had three in the last 18 hours. They’re adorable and charming and totally imperfect, which is why I love them. And how can you resist those vanilla bean seeds speckled throughout the citrus glaze?
While Jamie Oliver is finally securing his footing in the U.S. as a celebrity chef, I have always found him to be very “boutique” in spirit. He eats local, prefers organic and buddies up with boutique chefs all over Europe. At the same time, he’s very modern with his lovely podcasts over at his very cute website/online diary. My favorite TV series chronicles his travels eating and cooking all over Italy.
I served these muffins as dessert, and my non-dairy guests loved them. (I nixed the glaze for them.) Definitely taste the glaze before you top the muffins; I loved the sweet tartness, but it was too tangy for some.
Butternut Squash Muffins with a Frosty Top
- 14 ounces butternut squash, skin on, de-seeded and roughly chopped
- 2 1/4 cups light soft brown sugar
- 4 large free-range or organic eggs
- Sea salt
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, unsifted
- 2 heaping teaspoons baking powder
- Handful of walnuts, chopped
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
For the Frosted Cream Topping:
- 1 clementine, zested
- 1 lemon, zested
- 1/2 lemon, juiced
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 2 heaping tablespoons icing sugar, sifted
- 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped out
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line your muffin tins with paper cups.Whiz the squash in a food processor until finely chopped. Add the sugar, and crack in the eggs. Add a pinch of salt, the flour, baking powder, walnuts, cinnamon and olive oil and whiz together until well beaten. Don’t overdo it with the mixing – you want to just combine everything and no more.
Fill the paper cups with the muffin mixture. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes. Check to see whether they are cooked properly by sticking a wooden skewer or a knife right into one of the muffins – if it comes out clean, they’re done. Remove from the oven and leave the muffins to cool on a wire rack.
As soon as the muffins are in the oven, make your runny frosted topping. Place most of the clementine zest, all the lemon zest and the lemon juice in a bowl. Add the sour cream, icing sugar and vanilla seeds and mix well. Taste and have a think about it – adjust the amount of lemon juice or icing sugar to balance the sweet and sour. Put into the fridge until your muffins have cooled down, then spoon the topping onto the muffins.
Serve on a lovely plate, with the rest of the clementine zest sprinkled over. For an interesting flavor and look, a few dried lavender flowers or rose petals are fantastic.