courgette cake

I’ve been meaning to share this recipe with all of you since May.

Seriously.

You might be wondering how a courgette cake recipe could be on my mind for such a long time?  Well you see … this is the recipe that just keeps on giving …  it worked as a layer cake … and as a bundt cake … then as cupcakes … and cute little pumpkin cakes … and they’ve all worked.   CLAPS!I’ve made it with zucchini and chocolate chips and chocolate chunks and ribbons of melted chocolate. I’ve frosted it with a whipped chocolate frosting … and with a cinnamon sour cream frosting … and finally with whipped brown sugar frosting.  All successes.

Then I thought about it … courgette doesn’t only mean zucchini.  What about swapping out the zucchini for some squash???  And so … with that in mind, I decided to completely twist up this recipe.

butternut squash mini cakes filled with caramel and covered in cinnamon sugar

What?

It sounds like a mouthful doesn’t it?

It is.  But it’s all good.  Really really good.

The inspiration for this one  came from two places… the first was Edgar’s lemon beignets and the second were Golden Eggs – a recipe I discovered this past winter when I read the book Confections of a (Closet) Master Baker (which I LOVED).  I figured by mixing and matching the two ideas together, along with the courgette cake recipe I love so much, that I would come up with a real winner.

I figured this was fall baking at its best.

Butternut squash, caramel, melted butter, cinnamon sugar … DELISH!

And if adding the caramel to the centre doesn’t catch your fancy, the butternut squash option also works really well with a dollop of sour cream cinnamon frosting.

So many options!

The original recipe comes from (no surprise here) the hummingbird bakery’s cake days (I heart that book).  The hummingbird bakery‘s version is a courgette, walnut and cinnamon layer cakeAs you can tell … I opted not to use walnuts in my version, and preferred to swap in chocolate for the zucchini version.  Perhaps the next time I make it with butternut squash I’ll toss in pecans and white chocolate chips … or pecans and dried cherries?  Who knows … Just remember to go with flavours you LOVE.  That’s the joy of baking!

Whatever you decide to do … just know that you will have stumbled on a winner of a recipe.  And you might become as obsessed with it as I’ve become.

Oh … you’ll notice that for these mini cakes I used pumpkin molds – they are basically the same size as a regular cupcake mold – so feel free to make these into cupcakes or even a regular 9-inch 2 layer round cake … it’ll all work

butternut squash mini cakes filled with caramel and covered in cinnamon sugar

ingredients:

3 eggs

300 mL vegetable oil

300 g brown sugar

1 tsp vanilla

300 g flour, sifted

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

300 g peeled, seeded and grated butternut squash (or zucchini)

caramel, at room temperature

3/4 c. butter, melted or as needed

cinnamon sugar, as neededPreheat your oven to 325 F.  Spray  each mold in your pumpkin pan or cupcake pan with non-stick spray.  Set aside.

In the bowl of your stand mixer, beat together the eggs, oil, brown sugar and vanilla until everything is well combined.

Meanwhile, in a medium sized bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, ground cinnamon, ground ginger and freshly grated nutmeg.

Add the dry ingredients to your wet mixture in two batches – beating well and fully incorporating everything.

Turn off your mixer and fold in the grated butternut squash.Divide the batter evenly between the pumpkin/cupcake molds (I was actually able to get the dozen pumpkins and 2 dozen mini cupcakes out of this batter).

Bake regular sized cupcakes for 20 minutes and mini cupcakes for 12 minutes.  You know when it’s ready … the tops will be springy to the touch :0)

Turn the cakes out of their pans IMMEDIATELY.  This is the one time you don’t want your cakes to cool completely.

It’s easiest if your caramel is in a piping bag … grab the caramel and stick the piping bag tip into your cakes and fill each centre with caramel.When they are all filled, grab each cake and dip them in melted butter, and finish by rolling them in cinnamon sugar.That’s it.  Simple eh?

And if you don’t feel like a buttery cinnamon sugar treat … this recipe works really well with a cinnamon frosting.  I opted to make a buttercream using cinnamon, vanilla and a solid dollop of sour cream to cut the sweetness factor.

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baked sunday mornings: sweet & salty brownies

sweet & salty brownies.

Good?  Heck no!  A-MAZ-ING.  Incredible.  Ridiculous.  Gooey.  Delicious.  All of those things rolled into one.

These brownies are the original reason I purchased the book baked explorations.  Picture it:  I noticed a tweet – clicked on the link, saw the recipe, clicked onto my amazon.ca account and voilà – book in hand by the end of the week.

This recipe alone would make purchasing the book worth it (however … this book isn’t a one trick wonder – I am lovin’ a plethora of other recipes too).  Participating in baked sunday mornings was a nice bonus.

Seattle Pastry Girl started a blog – every second Sunday, those of us who want to, are invited to blog about a recipe (there is a set schedule for us) found in Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito’s book baked explorations.  Being the fan that I am (buttermilk pie anyone?) – I decided to participate.

That is how I ended up here – telling you about my experiences baking sweet & salty brownies.


Step one of the processes – make caramel (the filling).  It took me two tries.  Yes.  I seem to still be having difficulty figuring out the difference between dark amber and burnt (even using a candy thermometer I can’t seem to get it right).  But at least it only took me two tries – you can imagine my excitement when it worked out (dancing around my kitchen and murmurers of, “this is awesome” were the order of the day).

Salty caramel – check!

You might be wondering where the recipe is?  Don’t worry  – you didn’t miss anything.  One of the rules is that we don’t post the actual recipe.  I have however, included a pretty basic step-by-step photo gallery of what I did.  Click here for the actual recipe.

While that was cooling, I started working on the brownie batter – my strongest recommendation for this part – is to use eggs at room temperature.  You’ll be whisking them into a warm batter, and so to prevent curdling, ensure your eggs are tempered.

Otherwise … this is a totally uncomplicated recipe.  I used SALTED butter to increase the saltiness of the finished product (I’m a firm believer in the use of salted butter in baking).

Picture it.  Layer of brownie, layer of caramel, layer of brownie.  The gooey factor is pretty intense.

I pulled them out of the oven, allowed them to cool completely and then … froze them.  Yep.  I tried cutting them, but they were so moist that it was next to impossible without creating an absolute mess.  So I froze them overnight and then was able to easily cut them.

Having happily nibbled on the trimmings (remember … I always trim the sides off my brownies and squares), I realized that these are probably the most intense brownies I’ve ever tasted: and so I chose to cut 1-inch squares.  70 squares to be exact.  Awesome.

Perfect for sharing … if you feel like it.

:0)