Acorn Squash Cupcakes with Maple Buttercream



Are you thinking what I'm thinking? 

Yes, I put squash in my cupcakes. 

Yes it was a good decision. 

If you think about it, it's not THAT weird. I mean, we put vegetables in our baked goods all the time. Carrot cake, zucchini bread, pumpkin muffins--these things are part of our normal baking repertoire. 

I'll acknowledge that acorn squash does that usually fall into those categories, but I'm not sure why. Whenever I cook acorn squash, I load it up with butter and brown sugar/maple syrup and roast it into fall-apart-sweet-squash-submission.  Contrary to most items in the vegetable category, eating it kindofalmost feels like dessert. That's a win-win on all fronts. 

Because of its dreamy relationship with maple syrup, I originally envisioned acorn squash pancakes, but my sister's upcoming birthday, along with a stellar recipe I found for maple buttercream led me down the cupcake path pretty fast.

As we all know, once you go down the cupcake path, you never go back.

These cupcakes taste like fall.

They've got the spiced nutmeg-cinnamony vibe that pumpkin cupcakes have, but the maple buttercream elevates them to a different level altogether--a gingerbread, leaves in your hair, toasted marshmallow, crisp early morning air, first-fall-sweater-kind-of-level.

We ate these, appropriately, on the first fallish day we've had, on a picnic for my sister's birthday.

If you don't know my sister, you probably should.  She's younger than me but also better than me at most things. Yep, even cooking.

While I think most of my friends would say I can hold my own in the kitchen, the presence of my sister makes me feel inept. She can chop unwieldy vegetables, whip up fancy sauces, and prepare exotic dishes, all without a hint of stress.

She's also snarky and beautiful and true to herself, and while I know it's supposed to be the other way around, I really want to be more like her.

Happy Birthday, Bec.

 And happy fall, friends!

Acorn Squash Cupcakes

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups cake flour
1 cup light brown sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp sage
1/4 tsp sea salt
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup skim milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup canola oil
1 cup acorn squash puree*

Preheat oven to 375

Grease (or put cupcake liners into) a muffin pan. (This recipe makes between 18-20 cupcakes).

In a large bowl, whisk together whole wheat flour, cake flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and spices.

In a glass measuring container, combine milk,vanilla extract,  oil and eggs. Whisk together, then pour into dry ingredients, stirring until incorporated. Add squash puree and stir until just combined.

*To make the squash puree, cut the squash in half and remove all the seeds with a spoon. In each squash half, place 1 tablespoon butter (cut into small pieces) and 1 tablespoon maple syrup. Roast on a baking sheet for 1 hour at 400 degrees. Once cooled slightly, use a fork to remove squash from its skin and continue mashing it with a fork or potato masher. You will probably only need half the squash to get 1 cup. Save the other half for later. :)   I like to do this the day before I make the cupcakes.

Maple Buttercream

1 cup grade A maple syrup
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup (2 sticks butter), softened

Combine all ingredients with an electric mixer on low speed until sugar and syrup are incorporated.

Increase speed to high and and beat until frosting is light and fluffy. (About 3-5 minutes)

Frost immediately and refrigerate leftovers in an air tight container.

Maple Buttercream adapted from Chow.


  1. I want squash in every part of my life at this time of year! These cupcakes look marvelous!

  2. okay, let me start by saying that I never comment on blogs. I mean NEVER! With that said, I just had to say that these were the best fall cupcakes I've ever created/ tasted! I was a little apprehensive when I received a small acorn squash in my produce co-op box this week because I had never cooked with one before. Of course, I went on to Pinterest to find a way to incorporate it into my menu. I came across this recipe and decided to give it a try. Oh my goodness, so good! I didn't have butter for the icing so instead I went back onto Pinterest to find a maple glaze to drizzle on top. The combination of the glaze with this cupcake was so delicious my entire family ate it within 5 minutes, literally. We were all making moaning sounds as we devoured these sweet little treats. Inappropriate, you say? Very appropriate!

    1. Thanks so much, Korina! I'm glad your family enjoyed them! They're perfect for fall!

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