Hallowe'en's always a great excuse to let your imagination run riot and to make some spectacularly spooky food. I recall once going to a Canadian friend's Hallowe'en party where we were blindfolded, then asked to put our hands into a bowl of cold, glibbery goo which was meant to be brains. The goo was in fact gummi bears floating around in apple juice, but the effect was terrifying for an eight-year old, and I still find the darker element of Hallowe'en creepy. Have no fear though - this recipe, which I've adapted from one in Jamie Oliver's 'Jamie at Home' book, won't freak anyone out.
I used less sugar than Jamie (200g instead of 350g), and, as you can see, went wild with the food colouring. These are essentially spice muffins and whilst the butternut squash adds a nice texture and moistness to the muffin mixture, you could of course use grated carrot or leftover pumpkin from carving your Hallowe'en lantern ;-)
For the muffins
450g butternut squash, grated or blitzed in a food processor (I used about half of a 1kg squash)
300g plain flour
200g light brown soft sugar
3 medium eggs
100ml sour cream
100g melted butter
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp mixed spice
1/4 tsp salt
For the icing
180ml sour cream
3-4 tbsp sifted icing sugar (depends how sweet you like your icing)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp yellow food colouring
1/2 tsp red food colouring
You will also need a standard 12 hole muffin tins and some muffin cases or squares of baking parchment
Preheat the oven to 190°C. Line the holes in the muffin tins with cases or with scrunched up baking parchment for a more rustic look.
In a large bowl, sieve all the dry ingredients (including the sugar as it's quite lumpy).
In a smaller bow, break up the eggs with a fork, then add the sour cream.
Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients, and then add all the liquid ingredients, stirring with a
large spoon a few times before adding the grated butternut squash. If the mixture is very thick, add a few tablespoons of milk or water to loosen it. You want the mixture to be of dropping consistency (i.e. if you try to drop a dollop of mixture off your spoon it should take a few seconds, but no longer than 5 seconds!).
Using a tablespoon or ice cream scoop, spoon the mixture into the muffin cases then place the tin on
the upper-middle shelf of the oven as soon as possible - the raising agents are activated upon contact with liquid, so don't go off and have a cup of tea before putting the muffins into the oven! Bake for about 30-40 minutes, until the muffins are golden brown, feel firm to the touch and a skewer inserted comes out clean.
While the muffins are baking, make the icing: simply place the sour cream in a small bowl, add the sifted icing sugar and the vanilla, and finally the food colouring. I spent ages getting the colour just
right, but that's just me. Honestly, have fun with the food colouring but don't obsess about the exact shade of orange :-) Refrigerate this while you're waiting for the muffins to finish baking.
Once the muffins are cooked let them cool before decorating with the icing and whatever ghoulish decorations you have.
Happy Hallowe'en folks!