Winter Squash & Bittersweet Chocolate Cake

Lightly adapted from Gjelina Cookbook, 2015, Chronicle Books
Makes one 9x5 inch cake

1 pound winter squash (such as kabocha or pumpkin)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
2 tablespoons dark molasses
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 eggs
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate (90%+), chopped

1 1/4 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
2 tablespoons hot water, plus more if needed
2 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons pepitas, toasted
2 tablespoons cacao nibs, crushed

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cut squash in half, remove seeds, and drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Place squash cut side down on lined baking sheet and bake until very soft with caramelization around the edges, about 30-45 minutes. Remove from oven, cool and scrape out the flesh and puree until smooth (food processor or hand blender) Place purée in fine wire mesh strainer, allow to drain for about 4 hours. Measure 1 cup of purée.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter a 9x5 inch loaf pan.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and salt into a large mixing bowl. In medium bowl, stir together the granulated sugar, molasses, olive oil, squash purée, and eggs, until smooth. Pour the squash mixture into the flour mixture and whisk until just combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake until well browned on the top and toothpick inserted in center of the bread comes out clean, about 75 minutes. Allow to cool in pan about 20 minutes, run a knife around the edges and gently remove to wire rack to cool.

Make the glaze: In a small bowl, combine the confectioner’s sugar with 2 tablespoons hot water or until you have a thick glaze. You can add more sugar and/or water until glaze is thick like honey. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil, stirring constantly.

Pour the glaze over the bread on the rack, allow to drip down the sides. Sprinkle with the cacao nibs and pepitas. Allow glaze to set completely about an hour before serving.

COOK'S NOTES: Small pumpkin varieties will work here as well.