Butternut Squash Muffins

It's my birthday week, in which I turn 22 (HAHA) on Saturday! I've been contemplating making my own birthday cake... which I have absolutely no problem with, as the baking of the cake itself is a treat for me, yet I'm not so sure others are as cool with the idea as I am. So I'm going to bake an undercover cake! 
But first, lets dive into my birthday week stories. The thing is, celebrating just the one day anniversary of my birth is never enough, and my friends and I usually like to milk these events for as long as we possibly can. So we derived BirthWeeks! 
To kick off this year's Birthweek, I went on a trip to Singapore over the long weekend to catch the Harry Potter Exhibition as well as an incredibly satisfying foodie trip. I went with two girlfriends, Alena and Diyana, who both have a heightened sense of appreciation for good food and nerdiness. We stayed at an amazing hotel (thank you, online deals!), and managed to fit in a good mix of relaxation and going out. Even if our "going out" is just more relaxing, but outdoors over food and drinks. 
On our first day there, we headed over to Mandarin Gallery for brunch at Wild Honey, but forgot to factor in the fact that it would be packed on a Sunday. So we put our names down for an hour long wait, then trotted on downstairs to Antoinette, a French patisserie that Diyana has been raving about for ages! We sat down, chose our pastries (pain au chocolate and a pear danish), and decided to share an Antoinette mini cake.
It would be impossible for me to describe the myriad of emotions that went through me when I took my first bite of the pear danish. Suffice to say that it was life-altering, that I had an epiphany, that I decided then and there to be happy and just enjoy that dang pastry! It was so beautiful that I teared up (my eyes glazed over with tears, my throat tightened, and my heart felt like it would burst), which is something that I will never be able to live down to these girls. 
Then there was the actual brunch at Wild Honey, which was so flavourful and rich! We ordered the Tunisian Breakfast, and the Scandinavian breakfast to share as they seemed the most exotic on the menu. We can easily get good English, Continental, American, and Australian breakfast dishes here in town, but I don't think there's a good Scandinavian or Tunisian anywhere. It's a good thing Singapore is so close, as now I'm just going to eat sparingly for 4 weeks and make one weekend trip to eat well, just to satisfy the foodie in me. 
Of course, after the Harry Potter exhibition (which is held at the Marina Bay Art Science Museum), we made our way over to Mozza Osteria, where I had dinner with another friend, Jasmine, on a previous trip. I have been dreaming of the Francobolli Di Brasato al Pomodoro (basically braised beef rib ravioli with a tomato based sauce) since I had my first taste of it earlier this year, so for my Birthweek kick off dinner, I wanted nothing less than just that. We also ordered the truffle tortellini, roasted cauliflower, and the Fazzoleti with rabbit ragu and rosemary. Everyone had their favourites, but the Francobolli di Brasato was the big winner of the night, leaving all of us with the knowledge that there is great Italian food just next door, yet we'd never be able to find anything close to it back home. 
I suppose my best bet to have good pastries at my beck and call is to either hire a professional, or just become a professional. Pastry has always intimidated me though, no, not the cakes and cupcakes and cookies and mousses and stuff... I mean puff pastry, or bread, or the soft, light layers of pastry that would crumble on your tongue and leave you in love, sort of pastry. I've never tried it, as all recipes I've found look so damned complicated, and also because I'm afraid of failure. 
This may have to change quick. I've made up my mind to make pastries, so I suppose the smart thing to do would be to sign up for a pastry course, something I can take on weekends or on nights after work. Now to find a good one! 
For now though, let me share a recipe I've been dying to try with you guys. I found this recipe in one of my Jamie Oliver cookbooks, and have bookmarked it for over a year now. But I finally had some leftover butternut squash lying around my kitchen the other day (butternut squash soup, that's another recipe I'm going to share as soon as I get decent pictures of it) and a few extra hours on my hands, so why not? 
They didn't turn out looking as cute as Jamie's, as I didn't fill my liners high enough and most probably botched the recipe... But they turned out tasting wonderful! Especially with the added toppings :D 
Butternut Squash muffins with Mascarpone & orange zest topping
  • 375g butternut squash, skin on, deseeded and roughly chopped
  • 300g light brown sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 300g all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 chopped walnuts (optional)
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 175ml vegetable oil
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C, and line your muffin pans
  2. Run the butternut squash through the food processor until thoroughly chopped, then add in the sugar and eggs and continue to whizz until mixed
  3. Add the flour, baking powder, salt, walnuts, cinnamon, and olive oil until well combined
  4. Pour the batter into the lined muffin pans and bake for 25 minutes, or until browned
Mascarpone topping
  • 1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
  • 1/4 cup Philadelphia cream cheese
  • 1 cup sifted confectioners sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Beat the cheeses together until fluffy and light, then slowly add the sugar until all is fully incorporated. Swirl in the vanilla extract, then once the muffins have cooled, dollop on some frosting and grate the orange zest over the top
These were quite a hit in my house this week, especially with the younger cousins. They've probably never willingly eaten pumpkin/squash before, and were all quite surprised when I informed them of the main ingredient for this (sugar, lol I joke). The orange zest added a nice refreshing touch, and the mascarpone frosting is light and flavourful while not interfering with the taste of the actual muffin. I may have to make more of these, maybe even in a cake form!
Well, I've put off writing this post for a while now (it's been in my drafts for a few days), that my birthday is actually tomorrow. I'm not too sure what's in the cards, but tonight I have plans with my friends to paint the town red, and tomorrow I think I'm just going to have a nice, Spanish dinner with my family. Can't wait!
Lots of love,

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