Pumpkin Spice Maple Muffins

Pumpkin Spice Maple MuffinsSpice Girl
You start to get a whiff of it in the air right around August 20th and then the scent keeps getting stronger as August gives way to September. By the second week of September not only do you smell it but you see it popping up all over. And sometimes, in very strange places.

Then, it’s the first day of fall and you just can’t escape it. It’s everywhere! And, just when you think you’ve conquered your demons and can live a life free from craving that scent, that flavor, it’s spicy sweet claws grab a hold of you drag you back in. Pumpkin Spice is back. Can nobody save us?

I’ve been trying to put off the inevitable for a while now if only to enjoy Fall’s favorite pumpkin spice flavor in fall. Two days in to the new season…and I caved. It was the ultimate peer pressure. My inbox has been overflowing with newsletters and recipe suggestions like enterprising pushers all devoted to pumpkins and winter squashes of all shapes and forms. (Try us, they said. Just one little taste couldn’t hurt. Yeah, right.)

There was a maple pumpkin walnut cheesecake, and a pumpkin soup with apples and ancho chile, pumpkin ravioli, savory pumpkin tarts, pumpkin with lentils, stuffed pumpkin, chicken and pumpkin with dumplings (be still my heart), and on and on.

Amidst the bevy of sweet and savory possibilities sweetened with maple syrup or spiced with cayenne, I came across this very easy recipe for Pumpkin Spice Maple Muffins. What I like most is the use of whole wheat flour, which gives the muffins a hearty nuttiness—as opposed to some of the sweeter versions out there. I would be remiss if I didn’t point out, though, that a lovely cream cheese frosting would make these muffins otherworldly.

If you are one of the stalwart few who thus far have not succumbed to the frenzy that is pumpkin and it’s spices, I applaud your resolute determination in the face of mouthwatering scents and rampant marketing. And, I encourage you to continue on where I failed. In the meantime, I’ll be over here, eating a muffin.

Pumpkin Spice Maple Muffins
Adapted from the New York Times
Yields one dozen muffins

The turmeric gives these muffins a deep orange color. Browning the butter beforehand provides a vaguely nutty, deeply caramelized flavor that makes for a delicious muffin. For a gluten-free version of this recipe, just substitute the flour with an equal amount of Cup4Cup Multipurpose Flour.

1 stick unsalted butter
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole-wheat flour (or 1 cup/145 grams all-purpose flour)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1-1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 15-ounce can pumpkin purée
3 large eggs
1 cup light brown sugar
2/3 cup maple syrup

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.

Line the muffin tins with paper liners or spray them with nonstick cooking spray.

Brown the butter
Heat the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the butter has melted, foamed and started to brown (about 5 minutes). Use a whisk to scrape up any browned bits at the bottom of the pot. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

Make the muffins
In a medium bowl, whisk together flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, turmeric, and nutmeg.

In a second large bowl, whisk together pumpkin, eggs, brown sugar, and maple syrup until totally smooth. Whisk in the dry ingredients, followed by the browned butter.

Divide among prepared muffin tins and bake until the tops are puffed and spring back slightly when pressed (about 20 to 25 minutes).

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