SHARE
  • V
  • GF
  • NS
  • DF
  • View Recipe Key

Clementine Squash Cupcakes with Maple Italian Meringue Buttercream

Clementine Squash Cupcakes with Maple Italian Meringue Buttercream

These delightfully tender squash cupcakes are infused with aromatic clementines and topped with an elegant Italian meringue buttercream.

Clementine Squash Cupcakes with Maple Italian Meringue Buttercream // FoodNouveau.com

This post contains affiliate links. Full disclosure is at the bottom of the article.


Like most families, mine has its collection of traditional desserts—sweet treats my mom has been making since, it seems, forever. Many of these classic-to-us recipes make a comeback during the holiday season, a time of the year when my mom is an especially prolific baker. Indeed, every holiday season, my mom starts baking our family’s traditional line-up of desserts in early December, and she drafts what she’s going to serve for holiday dinners weeks in advance, completing every task that she can before the holidays roll around. She’s an excellent planner (that’s where I must’ve picked up my list-making habits!), and although she looks for new inspiration every year, classic dishes frequently make a comeback—most often because we beg her to make them again.

Every year, I offer to help my mom. I love chatting about menu planning with her, and on the day of our dinner, I love sharing the responsibility of setting a beautiful table, serving nicely laid out plates, and, yes, earning a bit of credit for making everyone around the table happy. I most often offer to make dessert because it’s what I love making the most, and I like to think I’ve become pretty good at it. My mom always accepts my offer, but she also can’t help but serve her classic cookies and bars along with whatever elaborate creation I prepared. To be honest, her treats often steal the spotlight. I know my desserts are delicious and she doesn’t mean to undermine my efforts, but tradition usually wins during the holiday season.

Clementine Squash Cupcakes with Maple Italian Meringue Buttercream // FoodNouveau.com

So, every year, I try my hand at new recipes in the hopes some of them will carve their place into my family’s traditions. My obsession for citrus fruits often drives my creativity, and some of my long-time favorite citrus desserts for cold seasons have come to life during these end-of-year brainstorming sessions: an easy orange yogurt cake, an elegant French lemon tart, and a spectacular lemon and olive oil cake with toasted meringue.

A few years ago, I created these tender, aromatic, cute little clementine squash cupcakes. They were an instant hit. The idea of using squash came to me as I was pondering carrots and pumpkin, two savory ingredients often used in cakes to create incredibly tender treats. I had a butternut squash on hand, so I figured, why not grate and use it as I would grated carrots? Because it was winter season, I also had a crate of clementines in the fridge, so I combined the two and added maple to the mix as a sweetener.

Clementine Squash Cupcakes with Maple Italian Meringue Buttercream // FoodNouveau.com

These clementine squash cupcakes delightfully and harmoniously combine winter flavors in tiny bites that inevitably fly off the serving plates. The squash provides an incredibly moist crumb, the clementines introduce a delightful zestiness, and the maple gives the frosting an irresistible aroma. But what’s best about this recipe is that you can make the cupcakes right now, pipe the frosting on, and freeze them completely assembled. This all-around winning recipe has become a classic at my house—my son has even got into the habit of requesting them for his birthday parties!

Don’t wait for the next holiday season to make these clementine squash cupcakes, though: they’re the cutest dessert for all anniversaries, parties, and special occasions. During warmer months, you can use other citrus fruits to replace seasonal clementines, and you can even swap in good old carrots for the grated squash (refer to my tips, below, for more substitution instructions). There’s only one thing you shouldn’t skip over: that incredible maple Italian meringue buttercream. It’s so silky, rich, and elegant that you’ll want to eat it by the spoonful!

Clementine Squash Cupcakes with Maple Italian Meringue Buttercream // FoodNouveau.com



Helpful Tips for Making Clementine Squash Cupcakes


I can’t find clementines where I am. Can I use another citrus to replace them in the recipe?

Aromatic clementines are so good in an array of desserts from chocolate chip cookies to French macarons! They’re seasonal and can usually be found in grocery stores from late November to early March. If you can’t find them, you can use any member of the orange family to replace the clementines. The obvious substitute is mandarins because they are so similar to clementines, but tangerines and even good old Navel oranges work, too. Simply make sure the amount of zest and flesh you collect from the substitute citrus fruits is equivalent to the amounts used in the recipe. Refer to the notes in the recipe below for more information.

A bowl of fresh clementines // FoodNouveau.com

Can I substitute carrots for the squash?

Yes, you can substitute the same amount of finely grated carrots for the squash.

What is Italian Meringue Buttercream exactly?

Italian Meringue Buttercream is a super-silky, rich, smooth frosting. To make it, you need to heat syrup to a certain temperature, beat egg whites, then pour the hot syrup into the egg whites to create a meringue. Soft, room-temperature butter is then beaten into the meringue to create the buttercream.

Italian Meringue Buttercream is a lot less sweet than your usual birthday cake frosting: the only source of sugar is the hot syrup that is poured into the egg whites to create the meringue.

There are several reasons why Italian Meringue Buttercream is worth the extra effort: it’s stable, holds incredibly well, and doesn’t crust upon resting. It’s also a great frosting to use for piping and decorating cakes.

What’s the difference between Italian Meringue Buttercream and Swiss Meringue Buttercream?

Italian Meringue Buttercream and Swiss Meringue Buttercream are identical in texture and consistency, but the method to make them is slightly different. As stated above, to make Italian Meringue Buttercream, you boil the syrup first, then pour it into the beaten egg whites.

To make Swiss Meringue Buttercream, the eggs are beaten together with sugar in a bowl set over a pot of boiling water until it reaches a certain temperature.

Fluffy, Cloud-Like Italian Meringue // FoodNouveau.com

Why does Italian Meringue Buttercream taste so buttery?

Italian meringue buttercream contains a lot less sugar than your usual butter-based frosting. Italian meringue buttercream has a rich, creamy, silky texture, and the flavor of butter does come through more than in regular birthday cake frostings. For this reason, I recommend using the best quality butter you can afford. European-style butters and cultured butters produce especially good results. The rule of thumb is: if you enjoy the flavor of a small knob of a particular type of butter on its own, then your buttercream will taste amazing!

Can I freeze these Clementine Squash Cupcakes?

You absolutely can! I recommend freezing the fully dressed cupcakes (with the Italian Meringue Buttercream on!) in an airtight container roomy enough not to squash your piping work. To thaw, simply take the clementine squash cupcakes back out to room temperature 1 to 2 hours before serving.

Clementine Squash Cupcakes with Maple Italian Meringue Buttercream // FoodNouveau.com

Citrus Desserts Cookbook

Love zesty, citrus-centric dessert recipes? Then you’ll love my Citrus Desserts Cookbook! Filled with colorful, irresistible meticulously tested dessert recipes—including cakes, tarts, breakfast treats, and delicious bars, spoonable treats, and candies—Citrus Desserts features mouthwatering photography, countless clever tips, and variation ideas to make the recipes as versatile as possible. LEARN MORE

Citrus Desserts: Sweet & Zesty Treats to Brighten Up Your Meals, an eBook by Marie Asselin, Award-Winning Author of FoodNouveau.com

 

 

Clementine Squash Cupcakes with Maple Italian Meringue Buttercream // FoodNouveau.com

Clementine Squash Cupcakes with Maple Italian Meringue Buttercream

These delightfully tender squash cupcakes are infused with the aroma of clementines and topped with an elegant maple Italian meringue buttercream. It's the perfect cupcake to serve on special occasions, from showers and weddings to holiday parties!
Prep Time:45 mins
Cook Time:20 mins
Cooling Time:1 hr
Servings 18 regular cupcakes, or 48 mini cupcakes
Author Marie Asselin, FoodNouveau.com

Ingredients

For the Clementine Squash Cupcakes

For the Maple Italian Meringue Buttercream

To Serve (optional)

Instructions

  • For the Clementine Squash Cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Line a mini muffin pan or a regular muffin pan with parchment paper liners.
  • In a medium bowl, zest the 3 clementines (using a Microplane is best.) Juice 2 of the clementines into the same bowl. Peel the third clementine, remove the pith and pits (if any), then finely chop up the flesh and add to the bowl. Add the eggs, oil, and vanilla extract and whisk to combine.
  • In a second, large bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, ginger, baking soda, and salt together. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and mix just until combined. Fold in the grated squash.
  • Divide the batter between the muffin cups, making sure each cup is only three-quarters full. Bake mini cupcakes for about 15 minutes, and regular cupcakes for about 22 minutes, or until puffed and golden brown. Let the cupcakes cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then take them out of the pan and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  • For the Maple Italian Meringue Buttercream: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, or in a large mixing bowl, if you’re using a hand mixer, whisk the egg whites with the cream of tartar and salt until soft peaks form. Add the maple sugar a teaspoon (5 ml) at a time, whisking, and when the sugar is all incorporated, keep on whisking until the egg whites are opaque white and stiff peaks form.
  • Pour the maple syrup into a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Let it boil, without stirring, until a candy thermometer dipped in the middle of the saucepan registers 240°F (115°C), about 5 minutes.
    Once the syrup reaches its temperature, immediately remove from the heat and, while whisking the egg whites at medium-high speed, slowly pour the hot syrup in a slow stream along the side of the bowl. Once all the syrup is added, keep on whisking, scraping down the side of the bowl as needed with a rubber spatula, until the meringue is cool to the touch, 6 to 8 minutes.
  • IMPORTANT NOTE: The meringue MUST be cooled to room temperature before adding the butter. Any residual heat will melt the butter and spoil the buttercream.
  • With the mixer at medium speed, add the butter 1 tbsp (15 ml) at a time, making sure each cube is mostly incorporated before adding more. Once all the butter is coarsely mixed in, keep beating until the buttercream is completely smooth and creamy, which could take up to 10 minutes.
  • Frost the Cupcakes: Use an offset spatula to slather a generous amount of buttercream over each cupcake, or use a pastry bag fitted with a round tip or a star tip to pipe the frosting onto the cupcakes. If desired, sprinkle each cupcake with coarse maple sugar, finely grated clementine zest, and/or a tiny slice of clementine.
  • SERVING: Serve the cupcakes at room temperature. If the cupcakes are refrigerated, bring them back out to room temperature at least 1 hour before serving.
  • STORAGE: Refrigerate the frosted cupcakes in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Bring the cupcakes back to room temperature 1 hour before serving to allow the frosting to soften.
    You can also freeze the frosted cupcakes for up to 1 month. Thaw frozen cupcakes overnight in the fridge, or at room temperature for 2 hours.
  • NOTE: Italian meringue buttercream is a type of frosting that contains less sugar than your usual butter-based frosting. Italian meringue buttercream has a rich, creamy, silky texture, and the flavor of butter does come through more than in regular birthday cake frostings. For this reason, I recommend using the best quality of butter you can afford. European-style butters and cultured butters produce especially good results. The rule of thumb is: if you enjoy the flavor of a small knob of a particular type of butter on its own, then your buttercream will taste amazing!

Did you make this?

Tell me how you liked it! Leave a comment or take a picture and tag it with @foodnouveau on Instagram.

Disclosure Notice: This site is a participant in the Amazon Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for the site to earn fees by linking to Amazon and affiliated sites.

If you click on an affiliate link, I may earn advertising or referral fees if you make a purchase through such links, at no extra cost to you. This helps me create new content for the blog–so thank you! Learn more about advertising on this site by reading my Disclosure Policy.

Author: Marie Asselin

Prep Time: 45 mins
Cook Time: 20 mins
Cooling Time: 1 hr

WHAT DID YOU THINK OF THIS RECIPE?

Rate + Review

Your email address will not be published.

Recipe Rating




  1. 5 stars
    These cupcakes are very interesting and unique. The clementines zest is delicate and fresh and the buttercream is perfect. They also look so cute.

  2. I love your clementine squash cupcakes recipe. The combination of flavors is so original, and they are so pretty. The whole post is lovely.

  3. 5 stars
    Wow, these are show syoppers. It was like I could smell the aroma of citrus in the air. Absolutely stunning. So excited when I saw maple Italian merigue, two of my favorite things all in a cup cake. Thank you so much for sharing your moments with your mom and those rich traditions.❤

  4. 5 stars
    These squash clementine cupcakes look divine and the Italian meringue buttercream sounds so good. I have a butternut squash in the pantry but not the clementines but going to get some tomorrow. Can’t wait to try these out!

  5. These gorgeous cupcakes are so delightful. From the fresh citrus flavor to the moist texture and the maple buttercream, they were simply perfect! I plan to share them with my family for Mother’s day.

  6. 5 stars
    These were really easy to make and I love that I’m getting some nutritional value! I used butternut squash and it was great!! Not overly sweet at all!

  7. These are so cute! Whenever we have extra clementines, I’m always looking for a recipe to help use them up. But I’ve never come across a dessert recipe like this!