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I’ve been on a baking binge this winter. It’s unseasonably cold, snowy at times, rainy at others, dark…so to occupy myself indoors I’ve been baking up a storm. Each week I glance at many different food sites on the internet, saving recipes that sound appealing. These muffins began as such: a fairly straightforward pumpkin muffin, jazzed up with warming spices and sweetened with brown sugar and honey.
These muffins made me think of Asher, my 5 ½ year old grandson who is picky picky. He detests eggs and won’t even walk into the room if he smells them cooking. He does not like certain textures – ie mashed potatoes. Since I don’t have to feed him every day, I find this all a bit amusing. And I have a sixth sense about what will please him. Chicken soup with matzo balls? Yes. Ricotta Lemon cookies? Uh huh. Tofu? Certainly. Noodles of any kind? You know it. Sushi and pho? Always. And I will bet the farm that he will love these pumpkin muffins too.
This time I read a few reviews from readers who actually made the original recipe that was posted in the New York Times. Some thought they might be a bit bland, others found them too sweet, some said the batter made more like 18 muffins than a dozen. After reading all of this – I devised a game plan. I used half the amount of brown sugar and switched to dark brown sugar since that is what I had on had. I used half the amount of maple syrup, added in kefir to replace liquid and give them a little tang (actually I had no buttermilk but I did have kefir), I didn’t use turmeric because I didn’t have any on hand. I ended up making 12 large, overflowing muffins but I’d do that all again. And I added the zest of a lemon along with a drizzle of lemon glaze after they cooled. One thing I love is that I made these using just a whisk and spatula, not an electric mixer of any kind!
I am 100% happy with the outcome. My hubby had some with his morning coffee and ooooed and ahhhhed, something he doesn’t always do (he’s spoiled). And because pumpkin and squash remind me of fall, I’m thinking ahead to Thanksgiving with the family and planning to bring these for breakfast or just for snacks. That is, if Asher approves!
Asher’s Pumpkin Muffins
Makes 12 muffins
- 1 stick of salted butter
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup white whole-wheat flour (I use King Arthur)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 15 oz can cooked organic pumpkin or pureed butternut squash, about 1 ½ cups
- 3 large eggs
- ½ cup dark brown sugar
- ⅓ cup pure maple syrup
- ⅓ cup kefir or buttermilk
- Grated zest of one lemon
Drizzle Ingredients if you wish
- ⅓ cup powdered sugar
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
Heat oven to 350 degrees with the rack in the center.
Spray muffin tin (12 muffins) with nonstick spray or line them with paper liners.
Brown the butter by heating it in a small metal saucepan over medium heat. Cook, swirling occasionally, until the butter has melted, foamed and started to brown, about five minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together each type of flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices.
In a larger bowl, whisk together canned pumpkin or butternut squash, eggs, dark brown sugar, maple syrup, kefir and lemon zest until totally smooth. Stir in dry ingredients, then add the melted brown butter.
Divide evenly among 12 prepared muffin molds (very very full to top or even a little beyond the top). Bake until the tops are puffed and spring back slightly when pressed, about 25 minutes. Test with a toothpick then remove from the oven. After about 10 minutes, gently loosen each muffin and place it back in the tin but on it’s side.
IF YOU WANT TO DO A GLAZE: Once totally cooled, re-center the muffins the same as how you baked them. Whisk together the powdered sugar and lemon juice until the consistency of glue. Drizzle about a teaspoon on top of each muffin and let harden.
These keep a couple of days covered at room temperature, or frozen for up to three months.
I am thinking if you aren’t into glazes, it might be nice to sprinkle a bit of turbinado sugar on top of each muffin instead.