Winter Squash and Molasses Muffins

These moist muffins are reminiscent of pumpkin molasses bread, but they aren’t as sweet (though you can add more sugar or molasses if you want them to be sweeter).

2 pounds kabocha squash, cut in large chunks
1 cup (140 grams) whole-wheat pastry flour
1 cup (135 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves (2 cloves)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1/3 cup raw brown sugar (turbinado) or packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup blackstrap molasses
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup walnuts

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a sheet pan with foil and lightly oil the foil. Brush the squash with a small amount of oil. Place on the baking sheet skin side down. Roast for 20 minutes and use tongs to turn the pieces of squash over. Roast for 20 to 30 minutes more, until the squash is soft enough that you can pierce the skin with the tip of a paring knife. Remove from the heat and allow to cool, then peel away the skin. Purée in a food processor or a mortar and pestle. You should have about 1 cup of purée.
2. Turn the oven down to 375 degrees with a rack in the middle. Oil or butter muffin tins and line the bottoms with parchment if desired.
3. Sift together the flours, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ground cloves, allspice and salt.
4. Beat together the eggs and sugar. Beat in the molasses, oil, buttermilk, puréed squash, and vanilla. Quickly beat in the flour and fold in the walnuts.
5. Spoon into the muffin tins and place in the oven. Bake 20 to 22 minutes, until the muffins have risen and a tester comes out clean. Let the muffins cool in the tins for 15 minutes, then turn out onto a rack to cool completely.

Yield: 1 dozen large muffins, 18 smaller muffins
Advance preparation: These will remain moist and fresh-tasting for a couple of days. They freeze well.
Variation: Substitute raisins or chopped dried apricots for the walnuts, or use both.

Nutritional information per muffin (12 muffins): 244 calories; 9 grams fat; 1 gram saturated fat; 4 grams polyunsaturated fat; 4 grams monounsaturated fat; 31 milligrams cholesterol; 37 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams dietary fiber; 233 milligrams sodium; 5 grams protein

Nutritional information per serving (18 muffins): 163 calories; 6 grams fat; 1 gram saturated fat; 3 grams polyunsaturated fat; 3 grams monounsaturated fat; 21 milligrams cholesterol; 25 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram dietary fiber; 151 milligrams sodium; 3 grams protein

Courtesy of Martha Rose Shulman

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