Birthday Cake Muffins (with yellow squash, whole wheat, and brown butter)

I had this post ready to go yesterday.

I just couldn’t bring myself to do it though.

I couldn’t bring myself to post something. . . this sweet right on the tails of Easter.

This holiday magically transforms me into a child with a raging sweet tooth.

OK, so maybe it’s not the holiday.

And maybe I always have a raging sweet tooth.

But usually I’m somewhat capable of keeping it in check.

Sort of.

But those jellybeans are evil.

And there were so many of them. . . taunting me!

I tried to ignore them, but they just kept at it and at it.

Until finally I ate their leader.

And all his mean little jellybean friends.

All.  Of.  Them.

How many jellybeans are in a 1 lb bag? . . . or *cough*. . . two?

So I couldn’t stomach the thought of sweets yesterday.

Or so I thought until I discovered a sleeper cell of jellybeans hidden in the bottom of a paper bag of empty eggs.

Zip it!

I wasn’t searching for anything! They just appeared when I was cleaning.

And again with the taunting!

They’re evil I tell you!!

I thought yesterday would be a day of salad and recovery, but we can all see: I thought wrong.

Today though, I know I’ve cleared the house of all those poorly mannered little beans and I can move on with cleansing my body with veggies and wholesome foods.

And I can handle posting something sweet.

Especially because there are none of these in my house right now threatening my resolve.

But even if there were – they aren’t pure evil.

They’re  a little more like a naughty librarian in reverse.

They look a little wild and crazy on the outside, but on the inside, they’re quite sensible.

The name was an issue for me – I just couldn’t decide what to call these.

Birthday Muffins?

Birthday Breakfast Muffins?

Birthday Cake Muffins?

Brown Butter Yellow Squash Birthday Cake Muffins??

In the end, I figured you kind of need to know what goes in them, and what the point is, so I shoved it all in the title and used some parentheses to tell you when to just whisper part of the title in your head.


Shhhhh! (with yellow squash, whole wheat and brown butter. . . . )

The bottom line is that they’re pretty darn tasty.

Muffins in general are not exactly healthy, but sometimes you can fiddle with them enough that you can convince yourself they might be. . . .

A little bit, at least.

Springtime is birthday time in our house – for half of us, at least – and I always feel a little twinge of  disappointment when one of them falls on a weekday.

So I got this idea in my head that I wanted to bake up a muffin that tasted like birthday cake, but had a healthy enough quality to it that we could eat it with a school-morning breakfast and not actually be eating full-on cake.

And this is what was born.

Happy birthday, my baby Birthday Cake Muffin.

I snuck in some finely shredded yellow squash and whole wheat flour. I was able to cut out some of the fat because the browned the butter adds a deliciously deep and nutty flavor. Then I threw in some white chips to act as the “frosting”, and almond extract just because I love it.

After hemming and hawing in my own mind over whether or not to add nutmeg, I called my sister – the nutmeg lover, and asked her what she thought.

Of course she said yes – baked things are always better with a little nutmeg – (almost always, anyway).

So in the end, I threw in a dash of freshly grated nutmeg and was glad I did.

These had a simple glaze and some sprinkles on the top – it was a birthday, after all, but they were quite good without it too.

And yes – they could be lightened up even more by using low-fat buttermilk and reversing the flour ratio, and adding in a little wheat germ or flax seed, and using fewer white chips – but again – BIRTHDAY muffins, people!


Birthday Cake Muffins (with yellow squash, whole wheat, and brown butter)


3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
a couple of dashes of freshly grated nutmeg
1 1/3 cup small shredded yellow squash (this was about 2 small-ish yellow squash, and the food processor worked great for shredding.)
1/2 cup Nestle premium white chips 


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Line a 12 cup muffin tin with paper liners.

Start by browning the butter. To do this, add the 3 tablespoons of butter to small pan. Heat it slowly over medium-low heat. Watch it closely as it melts. The oils and solids will separate, then the solids will begin to brown. When you see this happen, remove the pan from the heat, watch it till the solids are golden, then pour it into another dish to cool. Use a rubber spatula to scrape the pan clean. You must remove it from the pan, or it will burn.

Set the butter aside. 

Combine the flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk together.

Combine Buttermilk, large egg, vanilla, almond extract, browned butter and nutmeg in a separate bowl. Whisk together well and evenly. 

Make a well in the center of the dry mixture, and add the wet mixture all at once. Whisk together just until all ingredients are wet, and STOP. Don’t over-mix! Gently fold in squash and white chips until they are distributed throughout the batter evenly. 

Divide the batter evenly between the cups – it should make 10-12 muffins. 

Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the tops are golden and a toothpick inserted in the middle of a muffin comes out clean. 

Cool on wire racks for 2 minutes, then remove the muffins from the pan and let them cool completely. 

For the glaze:

Whisk together 1/2 cup powdered sugar, 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1/8 teaspoon almond extract, and about 2 tablespoons heavy cream. (If you are not a fan of the almond flavor, just use vanilla!)

When the muffins are mostly cool, dip each top into the glaze and rest upright. Decorate with a pinch of sprinkles while the glaze is still wet. 

Source: Sara

11 thoughts on “Birthday Cake Muffins (with yellow squash, whole wheat, and brown butter)

  1. OMG! You know I am all about these! And I just happen to have some yellow squash in my freezer, just sitting there because I am the only one who will eat it. MmmmmHmmm. This is happening this week at my house. (And today is my father-in-law’s birthday. Crazy. It’s like you knew. Lol.)

  2. I feel I need to clarify. I am not your “Nutmeg-loving” sister. I am your “Freshly-ground-nutmeg-loving” sister. I am a disciple of the freshly-ground-nutmeg movement. I am a soldier in the freshly-ground-nutmeg call to arms. I am a convert to the growing cult of freshly-ground-nutmeg. Yes, I am a freshly-ground-nutmeg zealot.

    You can keep that canned stuff. We clear?

    • I fear that cult.
      It sounds a kind of wacky.
      But I love you – and that you introduced me to the delights of freshly ground nutmeg!

  3. Aw, beautiful! I bet the birthday boy/girl was over the moon!

    I’m a jelly bean fiend, too. They’re just so good! The Jelly Belly pear ones, the peach ones, the popcorn ones… And now they’re all on clearance. I should stay home today, just to be safe.

    • YES – duck and cover!! I was in the drug store and there are ISLES of clearance jellybeans. I had to cover my eyes and run the other direction!!!

  4. Awww man! I wish I would have read this BEFORE today!!!! NOW I know why you chuckled when I handed you a 20 pound jar of jellybeans as one of your b-day gifts!!!!! I have to tell you, I laughed out loud at your “sleeper cell” comment!
    I LOVE clever-funny!!!!!!

  5. Sleeper cell, huh….I think I have heard that expression before….usually in the context of grey hairs though.

    I think I would prefer the jellybean sleeper cell more. 🙂

    • Ha! I know! We laughed so hard when you told me that’s how your sister referred to her hidden patch of greys. That’s some good humor – how long ago was that? A year? Two? And it stuck with me that long. It was such the perfect way to describe those jellybeans lurking at the bottom of the paper bag – just waiting to ambush me!

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