I can’t believe it’s already mid-October and this is the first pumpkin recipe I’ve made! Pumpkin is one of my favorite flavors – I love squash in general, to be honest – and it always makes me a bit sad that pumpkin is only loved in the fall. It should be a year-round vegetable! Especially since canned pumpkin is of good quality, why not use it for:
- Pumpkin pancakes!
- Browned butter and pumpkin ravioli!
- Sage and pumpkin ravioli!
- Sausage and pumpkin pasta!
- Pumpkin, ricotta, and parmesan baked pasta – the new stuffed shells!
- Pumpkin scones!
- Pumpkin cookies! (Love these from the Leftoverist: will make these this Saturday in preparation for a road trip to TN next week)
- Pumpkin-data quick bread!
- Pumpkin pasties! (Harry Potter fans, eat your heart out!!)
- Pumpkin butter!
- Pumpkin-curry soup!
- Pumpkin-white chocolate cheesecake!
- Pumpkin cupcakes with maple buttercream frosting!
- Pumpkin bread pudding!
- Pumpkin mousse parfaits with anisette cookies and whipped cream!
And, of course … the pumpkin muffin! I love how handy muffins are (particular favorite applications are the Breakfast-On-the-Car-Ride-to-Work Muffin, Mid-morning-Work Muffin, and Late-Afternoon-on-a-Weekend-Tea-and Muffin … not to mention the Dinner-Was-Small-and-Not-Filling-So-This-Muffin-is-Now-Dessert Muffin), and why not make a pumpkin edition?
Pumpkin purée has a great benefit working in its favor: the ability to create a moist texture in a baked good. Sometimes this can be hard to harness (I have a particularly difficult time with pumpkin cookies), but I think it works brilliantly in muffins and quick breads. In fact, I have a favorite pumpkin bread recipe that uses sweetened condensed milk and throws in more chopped dates and pecans that most people would think possible; it makes a very satisfying and decadent bread – although I’m careful to go easy on the sugar on account of the sweetened condensed milk and dates.
So, I suppose it’s only appropriate that my first pumpkin dish of the fall season is a muffin. For these, I combined my standby pumpkin bread recipe, this pumpkin-ginger muffin recipe from Simply Recipes, and an idea brewing in my head for weeks for using graham flour (predominantly) instead of white flour in a baked good. I wanted to give these muffins a little bit of body but not the strong flavor of whole wheat flour.
The result? Soft, moist, spicy muffins chock-a-block full of texture from the dates, walnuts, and crystallized ginger. There really is no substitute for the crystallized ginger; I’m sorry, but you really must just go and get some if it’s not already in your pantry. There’s just nothing like biting into a little hunk of the stuff and having a burst of its sweet spice attack your tongue like they’re crashing a party. The toasted walnuts add even more texture, and I will warn you that these muffins have a hearty edge to them – they might seem like a snack, but one for breakfast is filling enough to keep you going for many hours! Oh, and the walnut oil in there … it may seem odd, but I had some in the fridge (Spectrum brand, which is bland and not anywhere near as useful as the intensely flavorful La Tourangelle roasted walnut oil, which I use as a finishing oil for leeks and an oil for vinaigrettes) and figured I should use it here since walnuts were already in the recipe. I couldn’t taste the oil in the finished muffin, but it clearly helped create the fluffy texture. Good move, me!
As luck would have it, these muffins really came in handy this week…. Work was really hectic, and I subsequently missed lunch twice – but thankfully, I’d eaten one of these hearty goodies for breakfast those mornings and so was good to go until the late afternoon. The delicious and multi-faceted pumpkin strikes again. Now the only question remains: what pumpkin recipe will I whip up next?!
Pumpkin-graham muffins with walnuts and ginger
Feel free to play with the mix of spices in this batter. I think cloves go particularly well with molasses and ginger, but the cloves work well here in my opinion. What’s necessary here are the ginger, allspice, and cinnamon, though.
- 1 cup graham flour
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar
- 1/4 cup white sugar
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp allspice
- 3/4 tsp ground ginger
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup canned pure pumpkin purée
- 1/3 cup walnut oil
- 1/3 cup water
- dash half-and-half
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup dates, pitted and chopped
- 1 cup walnuts, chopped and toasted
- 3 Tbsp finely chopped crystallized ginger
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Prepare a 12-cup muffin tin with butter-flavored cooking spray or line with paper muffin cups. Break up the walnuts into smallish chunks about the size of a pea. Toast in a non-stick pan over medium-low heat for about 5 minutes, or until the nuts are fragrant but not burnt or heavily browned.
In a large bowl, whisk the flours, sugars, baking soda, salt, and spices together. In a small bowl, toss the chopped dates and crystallized ginger with 2 tablespoons of the flour mixture and toss to coat evenly. This will prevent them from sinking to the bottom of the muffin during baking (my theory: the little bit of flour “clings” to the dates and ginger, and that flour sticks with the rest of the flour in the batter, preventing the dates and ginger from “slipping” downward … silly or reasonable??).
In a medium bowl, whisk together the pumpkin purée, eggs, and oil. In a Pyrex measuring cup, measure the oil and water, then add the dash of cream and whisk everything together; the cream should help emulsify the mixture. Add this to the pumpkin mixture and whisk everything together until it is smooth and there are no puddles of oil or water in the bowl. Pour in the vanilla extract and mix to combine fully,
Add the wet ingredients to the dry, using minimal stirring motions. Add in the dates, ginger, and walnut pieces, stirring the batter until everything is just combined. Spoon the batter into the muffin cups and bake for 25-27 minutes, until a knife/fork/toothpick inserted in the center of the middle cupcake comes out clean. Cool the muffins in the pan for 1-2 minutes, then remove to a wiring baking rack and cool completely. These will store well on the counter for two days, but move them in the refrigerator after that. Enjoy!