Thursday, 25 October 2012

Pumpkin and Goat's Cheese Tarragon Brunch Muffins - We Should Cocoa 26

When Natalie of Hungry Hinny chose pumpkin for this month's We Should Cocoa, my first thought was not a happy one. Normally we manage to grow a fair few winter squashes; this year, if we are very lucky and the mild weather continues for a bit, we might get one. So, for the first time in many a long year, I had to buy a winter squash, in this case a butternut. Once I got over this unfortunate turn of events, a number of possibilities went flying around my head. Last year, I made a really light almond and squash cake and some really dense pumpkin and ginger cakes, both were delicious although very different. I quite fancied making a marble cake to get the bright orange from the pumpkin contrasting with the chocolate, but others got there before me. In the end, I thought I'd go for a triple whammy and do something using pumpkin oil, pumpkin seeds and squash flesh.

With thoughts of my very successful beetroot muffins lingering on, I thought I'd try something similar and enter it into the #CapricornChallenge. Sadly I only had 70g of goats cheese, so had to make up the 100g with cheddar. I also decided tarragon might compliment the flavour of squash, so I used the last few withering sprigs of tarragon from our garden.

This is what I did:
  • Roasted 350g of cubed butternut squash in a little olive oil at 200C for 20 minutes.
  • Toasted 40g of pumpkin seeds by dry frying them in a pan for a few minutes until a substantial number had popped.
  • Put 300g flour (100g wholemeal spelt, 200g white) in a mixing bowl.
  • Added 2 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp bicarb of soda and 1/4 tsp salt.
  • Added 2 tbsp cocoa powder & whisked together to ensure all was incorporated and there were no lumps.
  • Stirred in the cooled pumpkin seeds.
  • Grated in 30g cheddar cheese.
  • Divided 70g goats cheese into two.
  • Chopped half into small pieces and stirred into the flour.
  • Chopped the other half into 24 portions and put to one side.
  • In a separate bowl beat 3 small eggs with 200ml yogurt.
  • Beat in 50ml of pumpkin seed oil and 50ml sunflower oil.
  • Beat in 100ml milk and a good good grinding of black pepper.
  • Chopped a few tarragon leaves into tiny pieces and beat these in too.
  • Mashed the roasted squash roughly with a fork and stirred into the milk mixture.
  • Made a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and added the batter.
  • Stirred as lightly as possible until everything was just incorporated.
  • Divided between 12 silicone muffin moulds.
  • Topped each with a few raw pumpkin seeds and two pieces of goats cheese.
  • Baked at 200C for 20 minutes
  • Left for a few minutes in their moulds, then turned out onto a wire rack to cool.
As I hoped, these were a match for the beetroot muffins and made a very tasty lunch for CT and I for the next few days. Toasting the pumpkin seeds first worked really well, bringing out their rich nutty flavour. The squash was more subtle, but played its part very well in keeping the muffins moist. The tarragon added a nice aniseed hint, although a few more leaves would have given a better flavour; it was only just detectable. The cheese added that yummy umami quality which just makes you want to come back for more.

One Ingredient is also featuring pumpkin this month, so in addition to entering this, I'm also looking forward to seeing the other entries - squash is one of my favourite vegetables. This month's challenge is hosted by Nazima of Franglais Kitchen, but is co-hosted by Laura of How to Cook Good Food.

As the last of our tarragon was used in these muffins, I am entering them into Herbs on Saturday, hosted by Karen of Lavender and Lovage.

I'm also submitting these to Weekend Herb Blogging as I've used both tarragon and pumpkin seeds. This is a weekly challenge where any recipe featuring some part of a plant can be submitted. This week is being hosted by La Cucina di Cristina

24 comments:

  1. These sound utterly delicious, loving the savoury WSC entry love this month :)

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    1. Thanks Hannah, yes it's been good to see chocolate combined in more unusual ways.

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  2. These sound divine! The pumpkin oil is fascinating, I've never tried it.

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    1. Not surprisingly I guess, pumpkin oil is very dark green and quite viscous, but it makes a good addition to salads.

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  3. I have to say I don't think I ever would have thought to try a combination of squash, cocoa, cheese and tarragon, but these look really tasty!

    Sorry to hear about your squash patch, from what I've heard this year's weather has been a nightmare for pretty much every type of home grown fruit and veg.

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    1. You're right, I don't think many have faired well in this part of the world. Just hoping for a better year next year. The combination may be unusual, but it was very good.

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  4. Excellent blog. I could never dream up recipes for muffins and such like myself, so it's great to find and try out new ideas.

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  5. These look delightful and I can imagine they would be heavenly with a good hunk of cheese!

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    1. Thanks Katharine. More cheese can be no bad thing, but they didn't really need it; they tasted quite cheesy anyway.

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  6. What an original idea! Great to see you using pumpkin and chocolate(cocoa) in another savoury bake.

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    1. Thanks Suelle. I've become a bit of a fan of cocoa and vegetable muffins. Cocoa has a nice savoury edge to it which works well used this way.

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  7. Wow. What a lovely combo of flavours and lovely to see some savory versions too. I am in love with pumpkin oil and pumpkin seeds these days so I know these little guys would be very happy in my tummy ;0)

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    1. Thanks Chele. The good thing about pumpkin seeds and oil, is that they are really good for you as well as being tasty.

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  8. I just love the thought of a savoury muffin that uses good cheese paired with herbs and the crunchy texture of pumpkin seeds. I really don't think I have ever used pumpkin seed oil, which must be remedied!
    I also love a muffin recipe that doesn't have to be eaten on the day. I have noticed that squashes do seem to prolong the life of cakes in a good way!
    Thanks for entering One Ingredient :)x

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    1. Thanks Laura. Using veg in bakes does seem to keep things moist and make them taste good for longer.

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  9. Wonderful combination of ingredients and something I would never think of to try. They look really tasty too. Great for lunch.

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    1. Thanks Fleur. They do make a really nice change to my usual work sandwiches.

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  10. How pretty are these! I've not made savoury muffins before but I love the idea of this combination.

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    1. Ooh savoury muffins are nicer than sweet ones - at least they are worth a try :)

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  11. I am a savoury bun(muffin) lover and these look sublime, with wonderful ingredients. Thanks so much for linking these up to Herbs on Safurday. Karen

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    1. Thanks Karen, I can imagine how much you struggled to write in "muffin" there ;-)

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