Ingredients are substituted by many chefs when they are cooking and baking. Sometimes you don’t have enough of the ingredient in the recipe, and sometimes you are trying to lighten up the finished product. Pumpkin puree is something you can consider substituting for butter. You just have to keep your eye on the proportions and cooking time since pumpkin and butter do have different consistencies.
Moisture is the key in many recipes, especially when you are making baked goods. If you eliminate butter without substituting another moist ingredient, your finished product will be too dry. Pumpkin puree can provide moisture in your recipe the way butter would. You can try it in many recipes, but pumpkin is especially helpful when baking cookies, cakes and muffins since it has just a bit of sweetness that works well in baked goods.
Weight Watchers recommends using pumpkin puree for one third of the amount of butter; so if the recipe calls for one cup of butter, plan to use 1/3 cup of pumpkin puree and 2/3 cup of butter. The proportions may vary with what you are making. You may have to experiment with the exact amount of pumpkin to use until you get the exact consistency you want.
Pumpkin puree can be purchased in a can and will keep in your cabinet for an extended time. Butter needs to be refrigerated and will have a shorter shelf life than the pumpkin. The other benefit to using pumpkin as a butter substitute is that it is much lower in calories and fat. A stick of butter, which is equal to one half cup, has 810 calories and over 91 grams of fat. A half cup of canned pumpkin has 42 calories and less than a gram of fat.
The coloring and flavor of pumpkin may not work well with everything you are making. While pumpkin may not alter the color of a chocolate cake, you may want to reconsider using it if you are making a white or yellow cake. Also keep in mind that a plain cupcake or cookie may pick up the pumpkin flavor, but it may blend right in with a carrot muffin -- no one will even realize it’s there.
Marcia Frost is a writer covering travel, food, wine/spirits, and health. She writes for many on and offline publications, including The Daily Meal, Girls Getaway, Travelhoppers, and Princess Cruises.She also has a popular blog, Wine And SpiritsTravel. She has a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Long Island University.