Recipes // Desserts // Butternut Spice

Butternut Spice


By Allision Robicelli

At the risk of making all the other cupcakes jealous, I think that this is my absolute favorite of our two hundred (and counting!) flavors. Just try to keep it our little secret, because if that tidbit gets out, the other flavors are likely to get really depressed and, seriously, how pathetic would a depressed cupcake look? Skulking around, listening to Morrissey, writing shitty poetry, posting vague Facebook status updates, sending you text messages all the time about why you’re a fucking moron for saying you didn’t “get” Morrissey, because of course you wouldn’t, you filthy corporate capitalist sheep. God, that would be so annoying. I really don’t want to put up with that, so everyone keep their damn mouths shut.


Candied Pumpkin Seeds

  • 4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup raw shelled pumpkin seeds (aka pepitas)
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ¼ cup butternut squash seed oil

Butternut Squash Cake

  • 1½ cups roasted butternut squash, drained of excess liquid
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1¼ cups canola or grapeseed oil
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 4 large eggs, beaten

Vanilla Buttercream

  • One recipe French Buttercream
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

To Finish

  • Butternut squash seed oil

Butternut squash seed oil is a relatively rare ingredient, made here in New York State by a company called Stony Brook WholeHearted Foods. Odds are you will have to order this item online. Do it. This is one of our favorite ingredients to have in the kitchen—at home we drizzle it on popcorn or roasted vegetables. If you’re not willing to go the extra mile for this cupcake, you can use olive oil in the candied pumpkin seeds, skip the finishing oil portion, and eat your cupcakes knowing we’re incredibly disappointed in you.


Candied Pumpkin Seeds

  1. Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the brown sugar and stir with a
  2. heatproof spatula until the sugar is slightly dissolved and the mixture looks like wet sand.
  3. Add the pumpkin seeds and stir continually until all are fully coated. Add the salt,
  4. cinnamon, and cayenne and continue stirring for 30 seconds.
  5. Remove the pan from the heat and add the butternut squash seed oil, again stirring to
  6. coat. Pour the seeds into a bowl and set aside to cool as you bake the cake.

Butternut Cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line cupcake pans with 24 baking cups.
  2. In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, combine the butternut squash, granulated
  3. sugar, and brown sugar and mix on medium-low until well combined, about 1 minute.
  4. With the mixer running, slowly pour in the oil. Continue mixing until combined. Stop the
  5. mixer, remove the bowl and paddle, and use the paddle to scrape the insides of the bowl,
  6. making sure everything is fully incorporated.
  7. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg and add
  8. to the batter. Reattach the bowl and paddle to the mixer and mix on medium until just
  9. combined, then add the eggs and continue mixing until the batter is smooth, about 10 to
  10. 20 seconds. Remove the bowl and paddle from the mixer and, once again, use the paddle
  11. to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl, ensuring that everything is well mixed.
  12. Scoop the batter into the prepared baking cups, filling them three quarters of the way.
  13. Bake in the middle of the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through.
  14. The cupcakes are done when the centers spring back when you touch them. Remove the cupcakes from the oven and let cool completely while you make the
  15. buttercream.

Vanilla Buttercream

  1. Prepare the recipe for French buttercream as directed. Add the vanilla and beat well.


  1. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a fluted tip with the vanilla buttercream and pipe onto each
  2. butternut squash cupcake.
  3. Sprinkle the candied pumpkin seeds across the tops.
  4. Using a teaspoon, slowly drizzle a little butternut squash seed oil on top of each cupcake,
  5. just to garnish (about ½ teaspoon each).

From Robicelli’s: A Love Story, with Cupcakes by Allison and Matt Robicelli. Reprinted by arrangement with Viking Studio, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, a Penguin Random House Company. Copyright © Allison and Matt Robicelli, 2013.

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