Chili-Cocoa Mashed Acorn Squash

Ancho chili powder, a mildly hot chili powder, is a delicious foil to both the bitter cocoa and the sweet acorn squash. It's available at Mexican specialty markets as well as the spice section of most major supermarkets. If you like a smokier, earthier flavor, try chipotle chili powder instead, which also is readily available.

Chili-Cocoa Mashed Acorn Squash i i
Susan Russo for NPR
Chili-Cocoa Mashed Acorn Squash
Susan Russo for NPR

Makes 4 servings

1 medium acorn squash (about 2 pounds)

2 teaspoons olive oil

1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted

2 teaspoons unsweetened 100 percent cocoa powder

1 tablespoon light brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt, plus a bit more, if desired

1/4 teaspoon ground ancho chili powder

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Position a rack in the center of the oven. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil for easy clean up.

Slice acorn squash in half, lengthwise. Scoop out seeds and discard. Brush the flesh with olive oil and place flesh side down on baking sheet. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until tender when pierced with a fork. Cool for 5 to 10 minutes.

Using a spoon, scoop out the flesh and place in a medium bowl. Add remaining ingredients and whisk until well blended. It's OK if it's a little bumpy. If you want it completely smooth, puree it in a blender. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired.

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