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by Tan Rutley

Tan Rutley, a teacher/blogger/maker/hugger, is the creator of Squirrelly Minds where she shares DIY creations, recipes, and more to make your life pretty and fun. Her mind never stops thinking, planning, and making (squirrelly mind, get it?) and her projects nearly always leave her covered in glitter or flour. Sometimes both. Tan is an island girl living in Canada's west coast with her husband and overly fluffy kitty Lucy.

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  • butternut squash cupcakes
    Photo: Tan Rutley
  • The leaves are turning, the weather is chillier, and in that crisp air is the faint smell of pumpkins baking away into sweet treats, pies, and cupcakes. But have you ever considered using butternut squash instead?

    This delicious autumn squash isn't just for soup. When mixed in with the right ingredients and paired with an autumn spice base, this cupcake is a decadent treat perfect for autumn--and a fun twist on the usual pumpkin seasonal fare.
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    Photo: Tan Rutley

    Autumn Spice Cupcakes


    Yields 12 large cupcakes

    1 cup soy or almond milk (you can also use cow's milk)
    1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
    3/4 cup sugar
    1/3 cup canola oil
    1 tablespoon vanilla extract
    1 1/3 cup flour
    1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
    1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
    1/8 teaspoon cloves
    3/4 teaspoon baking soda
    1/2 teaspoon baking powder
    1/4 teaspoon sea salt

    Butternut Squash Icing


    1 cup grated butternut squash
    1 tablespoon butter
    1 tablespoon brown sugar
    1/2 cup butter
    3 1/2 cups icing sugar

    Caramel Sauce (from Food Network)


    1 packed cup brown sugar
    1/2 cup half-and-half
    4 tablespoons butter
    Pinch salt
    1 tablespoon vanilla extract

    • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line your cupcake tin and grease with spray.
    • Whisk milk and apple cider vinegar in a large bowl. Set aside for a few minutes to curdle (this is normal). Meanwhile, sift together all the dry ingredients in a separate bowl.
    • Add the sugar, oil, and vanilla to the milk mixture. In two batches, add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and beat gently until there are no large lumps left (small ones are fine).
    • Pour the cupcake batter into the cupcake liners until 2/3 full. Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Meanwhile, make icing and caramel. When ready, transfer to a cooling rack and let it cool completely before icing.
    • To make icing, place 1 tablespoon butter and brown sugar into a sauce pan over medium-low heat. Stir until sugar has melted, then add grated butternut squash. Continue to stir over medium-low heat until squash has softened, about 5 minutes. Let it cool to room temperature. In an electric mixer, whisk together butter and cooked butternut squash. Add icing sugar 1/2 cup at a time until desired consistency is met. You may need to scrape down the sides of the bowl in between additions to ensure all of the icing sugar is incorporated.
    • To make your caramel, mix the brown sugar, half-and-half, butter, and salt in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook while whisking gently for five to seven minutes, until it gets thicker. Add the vanilla and cook another minute to thicken further. Turn off the heat and cool slightly before drizzling onto cupcake.
    • Top with icing and drizzle with caramel. Enjoy!

    What's your favorite autumn treat?
  • butternut squash cupcakes
    Photo: Tan Rutley
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