The haunting maple flavor of Candy Cap Mushrooms makes this so much more than a great side dish. This wintery squash can also become the base of a magnificent butternut squash soup if you have leftovers.
2 pounds butternut squash, peeled and cut into medium-sized dice
1 cup dried candy cap mushrooms
1/2 cup lukewarm water
4-6 tablespoons room temperature butter
2-3 tablespoons warm cream, chicken or vegetable stock
1 teaspoon Madeira, optional
Salt and pepper to taste
!/4 teaspoon fresh ground sage, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground cinnamon , or to taste
Parmesan cheese, grated, for garnish
Maple syrup or honey for garnish (optional)
Roasted pumpkin seeds for garnish
Position a rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 325°F degrees.
Place the dried Candy Cap Mushrooms in lukewarm water. Soak for a minimum of 15 minutes. Remove the hydrated mushrooms from the liquid making sure to reserve the soaking liquid. Chop mushrooms into small fine dice. Set aside.
In a medium-sized sauté pan, add chopped mushrooms and butter. Sauté for 2 minutes on medium-high heat until mushrooms become almost dry.
In an additional 1 quart saucepan, pour reserved Candy Cap soaking liquid into the sauté pan add the Madeira. Boil and reduce the volume to about a ¼ cup. Set aside.
Place squash cut side up in a small roasting pan. Season the flesh of the squash with salt and pepper and a drizzle of olive oil. Spoon the Candy Cap and butter mixture into the cavity, and the rest of the squash surface.
Gently cover with a foil tent and bake for about 90 minutes. Remove the foil the last 15-20 minutes of roasting time.
When the squash is toasted brown in spots, and tender when poked with a fork-tender, but still a bit firm to the touch it’s time to remove it from the oven.
Cool slighting and scoop the roasted meat of the squash with the mushrooms into a large mixing bowl. Add butter and cream and a pinch of cinnamon. Mash with a potato masher to the consistency of smashed potatoes or whip with a handheld mixer for a smoother texture. Adjust seasoning to your liking with salt and pepper.
Place in a serving bowl and garnish with a drizzle of maple syrup or honey ( taste first, because Candy caps are sweet, and can overpower. )
Garnish with pumpkin seeds and grated Parmesan cheese.
Serve steaming hot.