An apple and acorn squash breakfast treat that uses up that last bit of buttermilk.
Fall is here. Winter is close behind. And I’ve dedicated the season to learning to roast my own squash; not just pumpkin but butternut squash and acorn squash as well. (I also have a recipe in my file for a pie made from something called a kobacha squash.) An acorn squash is quite a cool thing: cut it in half and you have a crimped, flower-shaped bowl that, stuffed and double-baked, would make a great addition to a Thanksgiving table.
Roasting squash is probably the warmest, coziest winter activity – even if it’s not technically winter yet – imaginable, with the exception of, say, knitting in front of a fire with a cat on your lap. And that’s a good thing: Like usual, I found something on Pinterest that epitomizes the way I feel about the beginning of November.
Roasting an acorn squash takes a little bit of that “expectation” and injects it into the cold, wet reality of fall. The oven heats up the kitchen, which fills with a delicious smell that’s not quite savory and not quite sweet. While raw pumpkin smells pretty gross – a lot like the goopy innards scooped out of Jack-o-lanterns from when you were a kid – raw acorn squash has a nutty, buttery smell that is actually tempting. Obviously, it’s even better after it’s cooked. After an hour or so in the oven at 400 degrees, the shiny black-green skin of the acorn squash peels away from the flesh like a wet Band-aid. (Too gross? Maybe not the best metaphor for a food blog.)
The process is pretty simple. Cut the squash in half and scoop out the innards using a knife and the edge of a spoon. Oil the halves and place them face-down on a baking sheet, then pour 1 cup of water onto the sheet. (Make sure you’re using a jelly roll type pan that has sides!) Roast for about an hour at 400 or 90 minutes at 350. Depending on how soft the squash has become, either peel away the skin to expose the flesh or scoop out the flesh with a large spoon. Mash with a potato masher or hand mixer. For a smoother consistency, you can puree it in a blender or food processor, but be aware that this releases a lot of moisture. If you go that route, you’ll want to drain it in a strainer over a bowl until a fair amount of liquid accumulates in the bottom.
Back to the muffins: Most recipes featuring acorn squash keep the skin on the squash, or take advantage of the pretty, crimped edges of the flesh to turn it into a miniature bowl filled with stuffing. But, like pumpkin and butternut squash, acorn squash also lends itself to baking. These muffins don’t scream squash! – in fact, they taste a lot like plain spiced apple muffins. Still, the acorn squash adds an upscale, smoky note that takes these babies past everyday cinnamon apple and qualifies them for the Fall/Winter collection of Muffin Couture.