This is a holiday recipe to show off how delicious winter squash desserts can be.  If you are short on time you could just make the cake which is very good itself but the caramel kicks it up a notch.  And because of the sweetness of the squash, it doesn’t have tons of added sugar.  This recipe comes from with just a few modifications.

Peel one  1 butternut squash, then cut the “snout” into 1 inch chunks to make 3 C.  Simmer the chunks in 3 C. whole milk for 10 minutes or until quite tender.

Grease the bottom and sides of a large cast iron skillet with butter.

Drain the butternut squash and discard the milk.  Place in a large bowl and use a hand blender or whisk to puree it.

Cut the bulb end of the peeled squash in half and scoop out the seeds and pulp.  Slice each half into half-rounds.  If they are more than 3 inches long, cut them in half.

In a non-stick 12 inch pan, heat 1/2 C. granulated sugar and 1/2 C. water.  Stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture begins to bubble and then brown –about 6 minutes.  Add squash slices in a single layer, nesting them together to cover as much of the pan as possible.

Cook the squash in the caramel for 8-10 minutes, until it is nicely browned on one side.  Add 1/4 C. more water any time the mixture starts to get too thick.  Flip the squash slices and cook another 8-10 minutes, adding water as necessary but letting the caramelize thicken.

Pour the caramel and squash into the cast iron skillet and arrange in a single layer.

Preheat the oven to 350.

In another bowl, beat together 1/2 C. salted butter and 1/2 C. turbinado sugar.  Add 1/2 C. maple syrup and beat to combine.  Add 3 eggs and beat them into the batter.  Finally add the squash puree and 3 T. apple cider vinegar and mix well.

In yet another bowl, sift together 2 1/4 C. flour, 2 t, baking powder, 3/4 t. salt, 1/2 t. ground ginger and a pinch of nutmeg.  Combine with the squash puree mixture by hand using a spatula,  in as few strokes as possible.

Pour the batter over the caramelized squash, using the spatula to spread it evenly and fill the pan completely.

Bake until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Allow to cool for 10 minutes before eating.