Chocolate Ricotta Squash muffins

Trick or Treat...
smell my...
Chocolate Banana Rum muffins...
with a surprise
Ricotta Squash and
Maple syrup interior.

A few neat TRICKS turned regular muffins...
into a delicious Halloween TREAT.

Lately...my muffin pan has proven to be quite indispensable.
This time, however...my thoughts were on chocolate and...
the stairway to pumpkin‘s heaven and beyond.

The last time I made any Halloween treats was...
well, honestly, so long ago that I just can't recall.

So...what was different from the last few years?

Was it the avalanche of overwhelming...
pumpkins at my local market? 

Is it because I’ve placed myself onto...
the route of a kooky culinary journey?


Are my usual responsible ways melting under...
the charm of childlike playful wishes?

Was it that I was excitedly surrounded by...
more orange bliss than I had imagined?

Or, maybe, it was all the amusing Halloween decor...
that got my attention more than usual this year?

Well...whatever it was that got me going...
I was sure pleased that not even my bronchitis could keep me from baking.

The resulting efforts of these chocolate muffins moistened by buttermilk...
spirited by dark Rum and filled with creamy Squash and Ricotta cheese...
were delightfully and certainly worth a few more sick days.

For these particular muffins or cupcakes...
you can either make your favourite chocolate cake recipe...
OR do as I shamelessly did...
use a pre-made chocolate cake mix.

Shhh...no one will notice once you've adapted it the way I did.
I buffed this mix real good ;o)

Ohhh, yes...once and a while I also do cheat a little...
especially if I'm experimenting to work out a recipe. 
There, how shocked are you that the Foodessa...
can actually be like many others in their kitchens.

I can only imagine the faces of my die-hard 'foodie' bakers
However, don't get too carried away with my tiny confession...
this type of scenario only happens during temporary desperate moments.

Therefore, from my kitchen lab...
here's my latest concoction...

...with plenty of tricks to make regular chocolate muffins...
into moist and remarkable tasting treats.

Chocolate Banana Rum Ricotta Squash
muffins or cupcakes

yields 24
NO need for electric mixer.

 Get PRINTER friendly version HERE

(American / Metric measures)

. 1 cup (250ml) fresh Ricotta cheese
. 1/2 cup (125ml) cooked puréed ‘ Buttercup ’ squash
(pumpkin purée or other dessert squash is fine)
. 1/4 cup (60ml) Maple syrup

...Muffin or Cupcake batter:
. 1 box of chocolate cake mix
Add the following to the mix: 
. 1/2 cup (125ml) grape seed oil (canola is fine)
. 1 cup (250ml) very ripe bananas (3 small) mashed
. 1/2 cup (125ml) dark Rum liquor*
. 1 cup (250ml) buttermilk**
. 1/2 cup (70g) roasted nuts, crushed (optional)
. 2 xLarge eggs

* If LIQUOR is not desired...any flavoured liquid can be used in its place.
** Make homemade BUTTERMILK:
. For about every 1 cup (250ml) needed...first add 1 tbsp. (15ml) of EITHER white vinegar, cider vinegar or lemon juice.  To that, add the rest in the amount of milk to complete the volume required in the recipe.  Let the milk rest to thicken for 10 minutes.  Afterwards, give it a light stir before pouring into the recipe. 

Preheat oven to 350F/180C/Gas4
Position rack on the 2nd level from the oven bottom.

... for the Filling:
1. In a medium bowl...place the Ricotta cheese, puréed squash and maple syrup...mix well.  This mixture will be used on two separate occasions.  Therefore, count approx. 24 tiny spoons to be set aside for the surface of each muffin.  The other portion will serve as the center’s filling.  Set both bowls aside.

...for the Muffin or Cupcake batter:
2. In a large bowl...make a well within the dry ingredients from the cake mix.
3. Add in the center...the oil, banana, Rum, buttermilk and eggs.
4. By hand...stir the mix just until all the dry parts have disappeared.  Do not over-mix.

...for the Assembly:
5. Prepare two muffin paper cup lined pans. Generously squirt some canola cooking spray in each paper cup.  Note: do this step ONLY right before pouring the first part of the cake mix. This will help greatly so that the paper will peel off better.
6. Pour a large spoonful of cake batter in each muffin cup.

7. Lightly place a teaspoon of filling in the center of each muffin cup.
8. Finish off each cup by pouring the remainder of the cake batter.
9. The tops will be decorated by once again lightly placing a small teaspoon of the filling on the surface of each muffin.  Afterwards, very lightly feather out the lines from the center to the very edges in order to create a type of web effect.

. Bake for no more than 23 minutes if using a dark muffin pan.  No more than 25 minutes if using a lighter pan.
. Remember...once out of the oven...wait no longer than 2 minutes before pulling them out with a tong and onto a cooling rack.  This last important step will ensure that the muffins stop baking in order to give you the 'moistess' muffins ever.
. These muffins would be even more fabulous as cupcakes decorated with your favourite frosting ;o)

So, how was that for giving you the TRICK and the TREAT.

Happy, fun Halloween times and flavourful wishes,

Comments or suggestions ... write me :o)
Claudia at: foodessa [at] gmail [dot] com

Go HERE for more SWEET creations.

Please take note on how I bake and cook...
Here’s a 101 of sorts to make sure that there are no disappointments when trying my creations.  
Also...just so you know...feel free to increase the salt and sweet factor since I'm not high on either of them ;o)
. Use DRY cup measurements for...you guessed it...all DRY ingredients.
Anything DRY gets measured by spooning the overfilled ingredient (never shake the cup) and then level off with a flat edged tool.  Exception...Brown sugar should be packed in and leveled.
. Use LIQUID cup measurements for...all LIQUIDS that cannot be leveled like for example butter, yogurt...etc.  Measure the liquids at eye level to avoid overdoing what the recipe truly needs.
OVENS are unfortunately not created equal.  Mine is so old that it has reached many degrees off it's norm.  It's really worth investing a few dollars to test yours with an appropriate oven thermometer.  You'd be surprised how many ovens I've heard about not being where they should have been.  Before you lose any more ingredients and much time preparing a new recipe...run to the store...you'll thank me later. 

Here are more MUFFIN based recipes that may be of interest: