Butternut Squash Chocolate Chip Bundt Cake

IMG_7272-2.jpg

With less than nine weeks to go before we meet our little one, the nesting phase has been setting in quickly for me. Unfortunately for my husband, this means waking up on the weekend to pressing “to do” lists featuring half a dozen lengthy chores that need to be done right now because we are running out of time.

Last Sunday I pulled out the holiday lights to hang on the roof right after breakfast. My poor husband asked if he could finish his morning coffee before pulling out the ladder.

The desire to get the house organized and ready is more than I bargained for. Even though I wanted to relax and enjoy our time as a couple before we become a family of three, the need to “nest” is proving hard to suppress.

Today’s quote is perhaps more aspirational than reflective of my current state of being, but I trust I’ll find that happy medium soon.

butternutsquashchocolatechipcake1.jpg

Although autumn squash is primarily featured in savory preparations, as a baker I have a hard time imagining it as anything other than sweet. While pumpkin is the go-to squash when it comes to baking, butternut squash can also work equally well in many of the same recipes.

For this seasonal cake, I started by roasting and pureeing a small butternut squash. The squash is then sweetened in a traditional cake batter. With the addition of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves, the cake takes on the classic autumn flavors.

And, because chocolate only makes things better, I added a cup of chocolate chips to the batter and covered the cake in a thick chocolate glaze. The combination of chocolate and spiced squash is one of my favorites. I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I do.

This Butternut Squash Chocolate Chip Bundt Cake features the spices of autumn. Butternut squash forms the base flavor of the cake, which is enhanced with spices and chocolate chips. While the cake can certainly stand-alone without the glaze, the addition of the glaze will help seal in the cake’s moisture and enhance the overall chocolate flavor.

Serve with a hot cup of coffee, a rainy windowpane, and a sense of happiness being exactly where you are.

One Year Ago: Apple Pandowdy
Two Years Ago: Apple Cinnamon Muffins & Maple Glazed Pumpkin Scones
Three Years Ago: Pear Almond Tart & Pumpkin Espresso Bundt Cake
Four Years Ago: Pumpkin Molasses Bread, Vegan Caramel & Rustic Apple Tart
Five Years Ago: Butternut Squash Biscuits & Apple Crisp
Six Years Ago: Pumpkin Waffles, Apple Cinnamon SconesPear Crisp, Pumpkin Rolls, & Butternut Squash Cake
Seven Years Ago: Red Wine Chocolate Cake, Pear Spice Cake, Pumpkin Spice Latte Cheesecake, & Apple Cinnamon Cake
Eight Years Ago: Pumpkin Bread Pudding, Apple Tart with Almond Cream, & Fresh Ginger Pear Cake

Butternut Squash Chocolate Chip Bundt Cake

Yields 8-10 servings

Butternut Squash Batter
1 1/2 cups (370 grams) butternut squash puree
4 large eggs
3/4 cup (177 mL) vegetable oil
1 cup (200 grams) brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups (250 grams) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (170 grams) semisweet chocolate chips

Chocolate Glaze
6 ounces (170 grams) semisweet or milk chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup (120 mL) heavy cream (or full-fat coconut milk)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Heavily grease a 10-cup Bundt pan. Set aside.

For the butternut squash batter, beat together the butternut squash puree, eggs, oil, brown sugar, granulated sugar, and vanilla extract in a large mixing bowl until well blended. Stir in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt until smooth and uniform in appearance. Stir in the chocolate chips.

In the prepared baking pan, add the cake batter. Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow cake to cool in pan for 15 minutes before un-molding and transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely.

For the chocolate glaze, heat the heavy cream in a small saucepan until steaming. Be careful not to boil. Immediately remove from heat and pour over chopped chocolate, allowing the chocolate to melt for 5 minutes before stirring until smooth and uniform. Allow glaze to cool until it reaches a thicker consistency before pouring glaze evenly over the top of the cooled cake.

Serve the cake after the glaze has fully set. 

Apple Crumble Cake

IMG_7055-2.jpg

I have been keeping some big news from you the last few months—Chris and I are expecting! We are delighted to welcome a baby girl into to our family this January.

The announcement of this baby feels extra sweet because we were not sure this day would ever come to pass. I was born with a heart condition, which carries its own unique set of challenges. Since my teenage years, my doctors have placed a question mark over my head when it comes to the idea of carrying my own children. While I knew I wanted a family someday, the path to creating that family was always in question.

I came to terms with the uncertainty, researching adoption and surrogacy in equal measure. I was fortunate to find a wonderful husband who was open to whichever path life would eventually deal us. Yet, I still fantasized about pregnancy—how could I not? But I knew deep down it was a distant dream that may never be fulfilled.

When I was officially given the doctors’ blessing, it felt like I had been awarded a golden ticket. Happily, I can report that so far this pregnancy has been healthy, for both mother and baby. I was lucky to completely avoid many of the classic pregnancy symptoms, including morning sickness. In many ways, I have felt completely normal except for the ever expanding waistline.

As I near the third trimester, the aches, pains, and exhaustion are slowly starting to set in. Even so, these inconveniences pale in comparison to the moments when our baby shares her little kicks and movements with me. I’m trying to enjoy this time, knowing it is so brief.

I find it hard to believe that we’ll be parents in a few short months.

IMG_7127-2.jpg

While this baby hasn’t brought about any food cravings, she does seem to have a preference for salty foods over sweet. Though there will always be room in my diet for cookies, I have been leaning heavily towards natural sugars the last few months, particularly enjoying the sweetness found in summer fruits.

With autumn’s arrival and apple season in full swing, I took the opportunity to create a cake to take advantage of the harvest and fall’s comfort spices. This Apple Crumble Cake is sweetened primarily with honey, which lends the cake a subtle sweetness and depth of flavor that traditional sugar alone cannot provide. Because the cake is not overly sweetened, I recommend using apples that are on the sweeter end of the spectrum, which truly allow the apple flavor to shine.

Along with a cinnamon crumble topping, the slices disappear quickly.

IMG_7085-2.jpg

This Apple Crumble Cake celebrates autumn’s apple season. The cake is sweetened with honey and spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. Sweet apple pieces are baked evenly throughout the cake, which provide additional sweetness and texture. After baking, I recommend cooling the cake completely before cutting and serving so the flavors have time to develop. Serve the cake plain or warmed with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

One Year Ago: Spiced Chocolate Swirled Bread
Two Years Ago: Roasted Fig & Almond Cake
Three Years Ago: Carrot Almond Muffins
Four Years Ago: Espresso Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake & Boiled Cider
Five Years Ago: Vanilla Bean Malt Cake, Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Bread, Apple Cinnamon Pancakes, & Classic Apple Pie
Six Years Ago: Pumpkin Espresso Cake, Triple Coconut CookiesChewy Vanilla Bean Bars, & Peanut Butter Cup Cookies
Seven Years Ago: Pumpkin Granola, Chocolate Cherry Bread, Pumpkin Spice Latte, & Oatmeal Raisin Crisps
Eight Years Ago: Maple Roasted Bananas, Chocolate Avocado Cupcakes, & Butternut Squash Custard

Apple Crumble Cake

Yields 10-12 servings

Apple Cake
2 1/4 cups (270 grams) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 cup (118 mL) vegetable oil
1 cup (340 grams) honey
2 large eggs
4 cups (500 grams or about 4 medium) apples, peeled, cored, and finely diced

Crumble Topping
3/4 cup (90 grams) all-purpose flour
1/3 cup (67 grams) brown sugar, packed
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
4 tablespoons (67 grams) butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Grease a 10-cup tube pan and set aside.

For the cake, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, and spices in a large mixing bowl. Mix in the vegetable oil, honey, and eggs until uniform. The batter will be thick. Stir in the diced apples and set aside.

For the crumble, stir together the flour, brown sugar, spices, and butter in a medium mixing bowl until uniform and crumbly. Set aside.

In prepared pan, spread out cake batter evenly. Sprinkle the top with the crumble topping and bake for 50-60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 minutes before transferring cake to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Chocolate Espresso Cupcakes

I am thrilled to announce that my longtime boyfriend, Chris, and I are finally getting married! After eight years together, this milestone may appear to be a bit overdue, but I'm excited all the same.

We have survived two years long distance, two separate career changes (both my own),  five moves in three cities and two states,  a masters and a doctorate degree, my first years as a high school teacher (when I rarely emerged from my work), buying our first home together, and all of the small and big moments in-between.

There are two types of marriages: cornerstone and capstone. A cornerstone marriage is one in which the marriage is the starting point, and together a life is created from that point on. A capstone marriage is one in which the marriage is the "capstone," or icing on top, to celebrate a life that has already been built together.

chocolateespressocupcakes1.jpg

Our engagement story differs from most—less romance, more practicality. We have both felt married for so long already that the actual ceremony feels more like a formality. I suppose you could say we fall firmly into the "capstone" marriage model. 

Sitting on the couch after dinner on a weeknight, the topic of marriage arose.

We should probably get married, shouldn't we?

Yeah, I think we should. But when?

From there, a wedding date was set for two months later, and the rest of the planning very quickly fell into place.

IMG_0138-2.jpg

We are having a private outdoor ceremony in our favorite arboretum with family, followed by a nice dinner at a local restaurant. I'm still not sure how we were able to find a ceremony and reception venue, photographer, officiant, and wedding dress within a week for one of the busiest wedding weekends of the year, but I am grateful. A week later we will celebrate in my hometown with friends and extended family.

With everything falling neatly into place, it feels like it was meant to be.

With nearly three weeks left until the big day, there are still dozens of small details to sort out. Instead of letting myself get overwhelmed with the planning, I'm trying to tackle one detail at a time. For the reception, I'm ambitiously planning to bake my own cupcakes to share.

While I baked hundreds of cupcakes for my sister's wedding reception a couple years ago—vanilla beanchocolate, coconut, and dulce de leche—it's a different feat to do it for my own. However, with my own dairy intolerance to manage, I find the dairy-free options from local bakeries lacking both in flavor and texture. So, into the kitchen I must go.

These chocolate espresso cupcakes are a flavor I wanted to give a spin before the big day. Chris and I adore the flavors of chocolate and coffee, so it feels natural to bring them together in this cake.

IMG_0102-2.jpg

The cupcakes are infused with chocolate by adding espresso powder and strong coffee to the batter. The frosting is made by mixing strong coffee into semisweet chocolate. The cupcakes are not overly sweet, instead focusing on the deep chocolate and coffee flavors. I topped the finished cupcakes with toffee pieces, but any type of sprinkles will work here (or feel free to keep them plain). Enjoy alongside a cup of coffee or tall glass of milk!

One Year Ago: Grandma's Chocolate Cupcakes
Two Years Ago: Blueberry Crumble Bread & Chocolate Chunk Coconut Oil Cookies (my favorite!)
Three Years Ago: S'mores Tarts, Raspberry Rhubarb Sorbet, & Banana Peanut Butter Green Smoothie
Four Years Ago: Mixed Berry Quinoa Crumble, Cookies & Cream Ice Cream, & Lavender Vanilla Bean Cake
Five Years Ago: Rhubarb Ginger Bars, Berry Cheesecake Tarts, Frozen Strawberry Bars, & Coconut Sorbet
Six Years Ago: Cherry Almond Granola, Vegan Chocolate Chunk Cookies, Cherry Cream Cheese MuffinsBlueberry Breakfast Quinoa, & Vegan Brownies
Seven Years Ago: Bizcochitos, Blueberry Hand Pies, Harry Potter Treats, Cauldron Cakes, Butterbeer, & Butterbeer Cupcakes
Eight Years Ago: Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Raisin Cookies, Mocha Frappuccino, & Roasted Cherry Coconut Ice Cream

Chocolate Espresso Cupcakes

Yield 1 dozen

1 1/2 cups (190 grams) all-purpose flour
3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated sugar
1/3 cup (60 grams) cocoa powder
2 teaspoons espresso powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup (78 mL) vegetable oil
1 cup (240 mL) strong coffee, divided
1/2 cup (120 mL) milk of choice
6 ounces (170 grams) semi-sweet chocolate, chopped finely

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Line a cupcake pan with baking cups.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa, espresso powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the vanilla extract, oil, 1/2 cup strong coffee, and milk. Using a spatula, mix the batter until smooth. 

Divide batter evenly between 12 baking cups (about 3/4 full). Bake for 18-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from baking pan and allow to cool to room temperature.

To make the chocolate espresso frosting, place chopped chocolate into a mixing bowl. Warm the remaining 1/2 cup strong coffee to boiling and pour over the chocolate. Allow it to set for 5 minutes then stir until smooth. Allow frosting to rest in the refrigerator, stirring occasionally, until it cools and thickens into a spreadable consistency (anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes).

Place frosting in a pastry bag (or plastic bag with the corner cut out) and pipe frosting onto the cooled cupcakes or spread frosting with an offset spatula.