Spiced squash muffins with chocolate

I recently got back from a trip to Italy to attend Terra Madre-- the largest global gathering of food leaders. To say it was awesome is an understatement. I'm still digesting and in awe of the experience. Suffice it to say that I've been slowly easing back into my routine which brought me back to the kitchen where...it's fall! 

Italy got me thinking a lot about what it means for something to taste like a place. And this to me tastes like fall in the US: spices and winter squash with a whole food twist.

For some reason, my batch came out to 11 muffins. I think I might measure conservatively, so you'll likely get a full dozen! These muffins have a nice tight crumb, a balanced spiciness and a slight indulgence from dark chocolate. Buon appetito! 

Spiced squash muffins with chocolate
makes 11-12 muffins, recipe adapted from Dishing up the Dirt

2 eggs (pasture raised if possible)
1/2 cup squash puree (I used butternut squash)*
1/3 cup dark maple syrup
4 TBS grass-fed butter, melted (olive oil would work too)
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1.5 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground ginger
2.5 cups (250 g) almond flour
1/3 cup 72% dark chocolate, chopped

Preheat oven to 325'. Line a standard muffin tin. 

Combine the spices, baking soda, salt and almond flour in a medium bowl. Whisk well to combine and evenly distribute the baking soda. 

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, squash, maple syrup, vanilla and melted butter. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir just until combined. Fold in chocolate. Divide into muffin cups and bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown. Let cool 5 minutes in tin and remove to rack. 

*You can use most varieties of squash to make the puree. Just don't use spaghetti squash as you won't get a smooth consistency. Sugar pumpkins would also work (the eating kind vs carving kind). Peel the squash, cut into chunks and steam until fork tender. Then, smash with a immersion blender, food mill, or fork until smooth. Any leftovers can be frozen, then thawed in the fridge and used for more muffin making!