Don’t be afraid. It really is yummy.
Today is my mom’s birthday. By the way, did you know that October 5 is the U.S.’ most common birthday? One would logically surmise this is because of New Year’s Eve. Hmmmm.
Anyway, mom didn’t want a super-sweet cake, so I decided to make something seasonal and just sorta sweet. Started reading through various cookbooks’ versions of pumpkin bread, pumpkin cake, pumpkin muffins. Muffins seemed my best bet, but the recipes were making me yawn.
So, I put on my Fancy Pants hat and got creative. Hence the following recipe.
Whenever I cook with my daughter, I tell her that, whenever possible, to use a “secret” or “surprise” ingredient, something nobody would try on their own, or are hard pressed to pick out exactly what “that something” might be. She was at school today while I made the muffins, but I think she would have gone the same direction.
And baby food. 😉
Spicy Pumpkin Carrot Muffins
Makes 28ish (You’ll want that many, but you could cut it in half if you wanted.)
- 2 sticks unsalted butter @ room temp
- 1 3/4 c. dark brown sugar, packed, divided
- 2/3 c. molasses, unsulphured
- 2 eggs, beaten, @ room temp
- 14 oz. can pumpkin (or equivalent amount cooked, pureed pumpkin)
- 1-3.5 oz. container carrot baby food (or equivalent amount cooked, pureed carrot)
- 3 1/2 c. all purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 2 tsp. baking soda
- 3 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/2 c. dried cranberries, raisins or currants
- 1/4 c. almond slivers; walnut halves or pieces; or pecan halves or pieces
- 1/8 tsp. cayenne powder (smoked if you have it)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. If using fresh, cooked pumpkin, strain puree for at least 30 minutes in cheesecloth or a wire sieve.
In a standing mixer, cream the butter at medium-high speed until soft and lightened in color. Add molasses and 1 1/2 c. of the brown sugar, beating until combined and light in texture.
Add the eggs, pumpkin and carrot, and mix on medium speed until blended.
In a separate bowl or on a flexible cutting board, sift together the flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg. Pour into wet ingredients and gently fold together, being careful not to overmix.
Fold in the cranberries, raisins or currants.
Using a spoon or large disher (what I used), fill muffin cups three-quarters full. Place three almond slivers in the middle of each muffin top, pointing up slightly in a radiating pattern. (If using walnut or pecan halves, place one at an upward angle in the middle of each muffin. If using pieces, sprinkle a small amount on each muffin.) Sprinkle muffins with remaining 1/4 c. brown sugar and with cayenne to taste.
Bake for 12 – 15 minutes.
In my original batch, I only put the cayenne on three of the muffins, as an experiment. I should have done them all! Well, kids probably wouldn’t like it, so maybe you could go half-and-half.
And in case you didn’t see my earlier tweets, they get two “noms” up! They smell incredible, aren’t too sweet, and have a great depth of flavor, even without the cayenne. The carrot puree keeps the whole thing moist. And you don’t have to tell anyone it’s baby food, or even that it has carrots at all. Maybe next time I’ll come up with a lower-fat version with applesauce rather than the butter. We’ll see.
Let me know if you try it…these are great!
P.S. Things are shaping up for the Argenta Fall Foodie Fest on October 17. After the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, mosey on over to 6th and Main Streets, North Little Rock to put some calories back in. You’ll have the chance to buy yummy plates from some of central Arkansas’ best chefs, made with local autumn produce. More soon.