Spicy Squash Cupcakes

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I rarely buy yellow crookneck squash, except when I cook a medley of zucchini, yellow squash and carrots, which I did last week. I bought more than I needed however, and wouldn’t you know… The next day my friend Lilli stopped by and gave me even more from her CSA. Now I really had to figure out what to do with this bounty since I’m not crazy about the vegetable on its own.
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That’s when I saw this recipe for zucchini spice cupcakes on Erin’s Food Files. OK, so this wasn’t green zucchini like the recipe calls for, but how different could it be using yellow crookneck squash?  Not so different, I figured. Like the chocolate zucchini cake I posted a while back, the squash is there to lend its moisture (which it does), not its flavor (which it doesn’t). Unless you’re a bloodhound, you’d never know it contains squash.
The cupcakes are full of flavor from all those spices, as you can imagine, and cupcake-y too – not at all dense like a zucchini bread sometimes tends to be, but more like a cake. I could even see this baked in a 9 x 11 cake pan, or two smaller 8 x 8 square pans – one to eat now and one to freeze – if you can keep your husband’s or your kids mitts off them (oh heck, who am I kidding, I ate two before I even frosted them.)
Printable Recipe here
Spicy Squash Cupcakes
Zucchini Spice Cupcakes
Yields: 24 cupcakes (I got 18 regular cupcakes)
3 cups all purpose flour (I used two cups all-purpose and 1 cup graham flour)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup vegetable oil (I used canola oil)
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 cups packed light brown sugar
3 cups packed grated zucchini (I used yellow crookneck squash grated in a food processor)
1 cup walnuts (about 3 ounces), toasted and coarsely chopped
1 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. In another bowl, whisk together oil, eggs, vanilla, and zest until well blended; whisk in brown sugar until smooth. Stir in zucchini, then add flour mixture and stir until just combined. Stir in walnuts and raisins.
Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes. Cupcakes can be stored overnight at room temperature or frozen up to 2 months, in airtight containers.
To finish, use an offset spatula to spread cupcakes with frosting (or dust with confectioner’s sugar). Refrigerate up to 3 days in airtight containers; bring to room temperature before serving.
Cream Cheese Frosting
(Reduce this by half and you’ll still have enough to frost the cupcakes)
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
12 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 pound (4 cups) confectioner’s sugar, sifted
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter and cream cheese until fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low. Add sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, and then vanilla, and mix until smooth and combined, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. If not using immediately, frosting can be refrigerated up to 3 days in an airtight container; before using bring to room temperature, and beat on low speed until smooth again.
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