pumpkin, pepitas, & 'pice.
Blah blah blah pumpkin spice bandwagon. But seriously, pumpkin is more than just a basic-bitch flavor in a coffee drink. Pumpkin is autumn! It's that foreshadowing chill in the mornings and evenings (and then afternoons...and then all day long...) that signals the year will soon end, and then, one day, your life and the lives of everyone you know. Queue dark existential crisis.
THIS IS WHY WE BUSY OURSELVES WITH FOOD. *whew* *wipes brow*
Our heat has been broken for the past couple weeks (years?) so I've been layering and toughing it out. There's something about burrowing under the covers and never getting warm that really builds character. I went for a 7 am run once in the past two weeks and was concerned with the ease I had bounding out of bed and into the 40-degree dawn. Because running makes you warmer.
And so does pumpkin spice! Mystery solved. It might be basic to want to be warm, but so be it.
I had a brilliant idea to make pumpkin spice muffins and ginger syrup, since I've done ginger syrup a few times (including last month with one of my favorite foodie friends Catherine). My experiments erred on the side of adventurous instead of technical, so I was left with a tasty-but-compact li'l muffin. I'm just gonna lay it out for you along with some recipe amendments to improve your chances of fluffy muffin. BTW, did I mention this is dairy free?! You're welcome, bloated and allergy-laden carb-loaders. I can say that because I'm one of you.
Pumpkin Spice Muffins with Spicy Pepitas
Yield: 12 muffins
Time: 1.5 hours
Ingredients and Tools
1 medium-sized sugar pumpkin (orrrrrr a can of pumpkin)
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup almond milk
1/3 cup olive oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups unbleached flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
enough water to fill saucepan for pumpkins
optional non-stick spray
for ginger syrup
2 cups water +
a couple ounces of fresh ginger
1 cup white sugar
1 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp red chili or paprika
fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth
stand mixer, a big bowl and a ton of patience
big, deep saucepan with cover
muffin/cupcake liners or hopes and dreams and aggressive oiling
• Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Skip this next part if you bought pumpkin from a can. Fill the big saucepan 2/3 of the way up with water and add the cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cardamom and cloves. Cut the pumpkin in half horizontally and put each half pulp side down in the saucepan. Cover and let boil for 25 min.
• Fill the small pot with the two cups of water and bring to a boil. In the meantime, peel the ginger and cut it into tiny chunks. Add the chunks and the white sugar to the pot, let it return to a boil, and turn heat to low. Keep an eye on this; you don't want to over-reduce syrup because it'll just make candy. But if that does happen, you can always add more water to thin it out.
• Take the boiled pumpkin out of the water; let the spice-water continue reducing at low heat. Scoop out the seeds from the pumpkin pump and rinse them in the mesh strainer. Get rid of as much of the pulp from the seeds as possible; dry the seeds. Mix them with the olive oil, salt and pepper, and red chili spice. Distribute them evenly on the cookie sheet and pop them into the oven for around 10 minutes until they're toasted, slightly browned, and crispy-looking. Remove them but keep the oven on.
• Meanwhile, rinse out that mesh strainer and put a bowl underneath it. Now reuse the mesh for the pumpkin pulp, which you're gonna scoop out of the now-soft pumpkin skin. After all the pulp is in the strainer, push it clockwise and counter clockwise to strain the water out of the pulp. If you have a cheesecloth instead, scoop all the pulp into the cloth and squeeze it, making the pulp into a tight little bundle.
• Add the reducing spice water to the ginger syrup. Do it slowly, since the cooking sugar is super into boiling up and coating your stovetop in a thick layer of impenetrable doom. But you'll prevail, and the spice water will work its way into the syrup, giving birth to an autumn-tasting treat of epic proportions. Stir and keep on low, or alternately take off the heat for a while here and there.
• Combine pumpkin pulp with brown sugar, egg yolk, olive oil, almond milk, vanilla. Take your ginger syrup and pour 2/3 of it, including the chunks of candied ginger, into the pumpkin pulp. Meanwhile, get your egg white mixing into stiff peaks.
• Combine the dry ingredients - the flour, baking powder and soda, the salt. Pour into the pumpkin pulp mixture a half a cup at a time, mixing by hand. Be careful not to over mix. The consistency should be like cake batter. Then add in the now stiff peak egg white, gently combining it with the rest of the batter until just combined.
• Spray the muffin tin with nonstick spray (I used coconut oil) or olive oil and line with cupcake liners. Spoon batter into each liner up to the top of the tin. If you run out of batter but have spaces left, fill the space halfway up with water. Stick in the 425 degree oven for 8 min (DO NOT OPEN OVEN). Turn down the oven to 375 degrees and bake for 15 more minutes.
• Remove the muffins more or less immediately from the tins or they'll keep baking. While they're cooling, drizzle the remaining ginger syrup on top and add the spicy pepitas as a garnish.
If you made it through, you deserve this head start on the holidays. The NYTimes just said RIGHT NOW is the skinniest we'll be through the end of the year, so LIVE IT UP! And if you like these muffins, the cherry almond ones are on the horizon...