spicy pumpkin muffins

I had some leftover pumpkin puree in the refrigerator that needed to be turned into something before it passed its prime.  This recipe popped out at me while I was re-organizing my cookbooks.  On a side note:  Is it just me, or do cookbook collections seem to have a life of their own?   It’s as if I slide the door closed over them and they throw a dance party and drink too much and forget where they leave their pants!  Every time I reach for a cookbook I think, “I really need to reorganize these again.”  Anyway…

These muffins were average.  I’d make a few changes the next time.  First, they weren’t nearly “spicy” enough for me.  Obviously, not in a muy caliente sort of way.  But in a pumpkin-y, fall, seasonal spicy sort of way.  And I actually included allspice; a seasoning not called for in the original recipe.  Also, as much as I love golden raisins, I didn’t love them in this recipe.  Too mushy or something.  The texture was wrong.  See my Baker’s Notes below for some suggestions to improve this recipe.  It has the potential to be really good.  Feel free to comment, too, if you make them, and let me know what you did or didn’t do to change the recipe.  I might like to try it.  Enjoy!

2013-11-05

2013-11-051

Spicy Pumpkin Muffins (recipe adapted from A Literary Feast: Recipes From the Grosse Pointe Public Library)

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 c unsalted butter, softened
  • 6 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 c all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 c low-fat milk
  • 1 c pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 c golden raisins

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 400°.  Spray muffin tins with non-stick cooking spray such as Pam for baking.
  2. In a bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Mix well.
  3. Cream butter and sugar.  Beat in egg, milk, and pumpkin puree, until smooth.
  4. Fold dry ingredients in to pumpkin mixture, about 1/3 at a time, being careful not to over mix.
  5. Stir in raisins (or, walnuts).
  6. Spoon equal amounts into muffin cups and bake 15-20 minutes until lightly browned.
  7. Cool for 5 minutes in pan, then finish cooling on rack.

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***Baker’s Notes – First, as you can see above, I used cupcake liners for my muffins.  If you do this, make sure the muffins are completely cool before removing the paper.  My first one (yes, I was anxious to try it) stuck miserably, but the paper on the fully cooled muffins did not.  Second, add more spice.  I’d double everything:  1 teaspoon each cinnamon and nutmeg, 1/2 teaspoon allspice, and throwing caution to the wind, 1/2 teaspoon ginger.  They’re pumpkin muffins.  They’re supposed to be overflowing with the flavors of fall.  The original recipe just fell flat.   Third, the raisins were too soft.  I’d use nuts next time; walnuts, pecans, or even roasted, unsalted pepitas, for some complimentary texture.  Last, what you don’t eat the first day, refrigerate.

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pumpkin chocolate chip squares

So, yesterday I spent too much time reading news and scanning the Twitter feed re: the current state of affairs in Washington D.C.  I’m a fiscal conservative.  Borrowing money to pay your bills is ludicrous.  You wouldn’t run your household budget that way, so why is it ok for the government to spend like a passel of reckless teenagers with a stolen ATM card??  (I’d refer you to the recent glitch in the welfare EBT system in which recipients of government-funded, i.e., my tax dollars, debit cards went on a spending spree…knowing full well their cards did NOT have balances to support their spending).  Get it?

Well, enough of that.  After an overload of (more) bad news out of our nation’s capital, I shut down (ha ha…no pun intended) the internet and headed to the kitchen to bake.  With ingredients I bought with hard-earned money contained within our monthly household budget.  Get it?

Oh, never mind.  Just bake these.  They’re yummy and perfect for fall – pumpkin, pumpkin spice, vanilla, and chocolate.  Good stuff.  Good stuff.

2013-10-16

2013-10-161

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Squares (adapted from Martha Stewart)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
  • 1/2 Tbsp pumpkin-pie spice*
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • dash salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 5/8 cup sugar (weighed on a kitchen scale = .625 ounces)
  • 1/2 large egg (approx 1 Tbsp and 1 1/2 tsp)**
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 6 ounces chocolate chips (I used a combination of white and semi-sweet)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Spray bottom of 8 x 8 baking pan with Pam Non-Stick Baking Spray
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, pie spice, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
  4. With an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar on medium-high speed until smooth; beat in egg and vanilla until combined. Beat in pumpkin puree (mixture may appear curdled). Reduce speed to low, and mix in dry ingredients until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips.
  5. Spread batter evenly in prepared pan. Bake until edges begin to pull away from sides of pan and a toothpick inserted in center comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached.  Approximately 30 – 35 minutes. Cool completely in pan.

*Pumpkin Pie Spice is easy to make at home:  Combine 1 Tbsp cinnamon, 2 tsp ground ginger, and 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

**I halved this recipe which created the dilemma of halving an egg.  A typical large egg contains about 2 Tbsp egg white and 1 Tbsp yolk.  So, to half the egg, you’ll need 1 1/2 Tbsp of whipped egg (1 Tbsp + 1 1/2 tsp).

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***Baker’s Notes:  First, the original recipe called for chocolate chips.  I’m not a huge fan of white chocolate, but I had a partial bag I wanted to use up, so I divided the 6 ounces into half white chocolate, half semi-sweet.  The end result?  Perfect way to eat white chocolate.  You can’t even really taste the difference.  Secondly, because I halved the recipe, I ended up baking in an 8 x 8 pan rather than the 9 x 13.  Watch the baking time.  I pulled them the first time at 30 minutes, but quickly reconsidered because they’re much thicker.  Last, the one thing I might add to give this recipe a little more punch (not that they’re not delicious), is cayenne pepper.  Heat and chocolate and pumpkin.  Triple threat!!

healthy pumpkin oatmeal chocolate chip muffins

I’m shaking my head at myself for even considering posting a recipe with pumpkin in it as the calendar pages sweep quickly into spring, but I had some canned pumpkin left in my pantry.  It was either bake with it now, or bake with it in November after its been sitting in my pantry for a year.  I chose now based on my admitted neuroses about expiration dates.  Also, it’s hardly spring in other places.  Winter weather is persistent and it’s possible there are readers out there who will still face a spring blizzard, or two.  In that case, you’ll be happy to have pumpkin muffins in March, I believe.
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Usually when I hear the word “muffin,” though, I run for the hills.  Muffins are not good for you.  Muffins are just a polite way to avoid admitting you had cake for breakfast.  Muffins go straight to your hips and, frankly, I work out too hard to un-do it by eating muffins.
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But these are not your ordinary muffins.  These are healthy muffins:  no butter or oil, minimal sugar, no egg yolks, no dairy.  All the decadence and guilt of eating a muffin is replaced with applesauce and unsweetened almond milk.  To be perfectly honest, even I was skeptical.  But there is some brown sugar, and the applesauce and almond milk keep them plenty moist.  I thought they had nice depth of flavor and were a satisfying snack after my morning gym workout.  There are even some mini chocolate chips for those of you who don’t mind eating cake for breakfast.
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If you’re working on modifying your diet, reducing processed sugar, adding more fiber, or lowering your cholesterol, this is a super recipe.  Tuck it away for next fall.  If you like cake for breakfast, you’ll probably react the way my husband did when I ticked off the list of ingredients:  “So you’re saying they’re dry and grainy?”  Not dry, but definitely grain-friendly.  And heart-friendly, too!  I think they should at least get bonus points for that.  Enjoy!
2013-03-11
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Low-Fat Pumpkin Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Muffins (recipe courtesy Monique of Ambitious Kitchen)
Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup oatmeal
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 egg whites, slightly beaten
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened all-natural applesauce
  • 1/2 ripe banana, mashed
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips, plus 2 tablespoons
  • Extra oatmeal, for sprinkling on muffins
Directions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line 12 muffin cups with paper cups or spray with nonstick spray. If you use muffin cups, make sure to spray the inside of the cups.
  2. In a large bowl mix flour, oatmeal, pumpkin pie spice baking powder, baking soda, and salt together. In a separate bowl combine pumpkin, mashed banana, brown sugar, almond milk, egg whites and applesauce. Add the flour mixture into the pumpkin mixture and stir to combine. Gently fold in chocolate chips.
  3. Fill each muffin cup 3/4 full so that each is even. Sprinkle a tiny bit of oatmeal over each top of the muffins. Place into the oven and bake for 23-28 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into center of muffins comes out clean. Muffins are best served warm.

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Baker’s Notes:  Refrigerate whatever muffins aren’t eaten immediately.  You can always give them a quick re-heat in the microwave if you prefer to eat them warm.