... with a Pecan Streusel topping.
Also, served with a salted caramel sauce. Because, why not?
It's been so long since I've done this I'm almost scared that I've forgotten how. You know, the wit and charm doesn't just happen, you have to be in the zone and when you're not regularly in the zone, well. You kinda forget. Why haven't I been blogging? What could possibly be more important? Lots, obviously.
I've slowly been building up a side business, so my weekends and evenings are filled with creating recipes, taking photos and making food focused videos. This is great, obviously. It's a dream for most bloggers being able to move from hobby to pro, but it means WTF?! has been gathering dust.
Now, don't think that just because I'm back with this recipe that there will miraculously be a steady stream of new posts. I'm going to make no such promise because I know what my schedule is looking like for the next couple of months, so I'd be daft to give you my word.
I will say this. I really do miss blogging and I have a growing list of things that I want to write about. And, between you and me, I may have something in the works that will mean I can get a bit of balance back in my life which means freeing up some time to carry on providing you with hilarious narrative and delicious recipes. But, shhhh... That's all I'm saying about that for now.
So why this recipe, why now? I had my first weekend off in months and I was feeling pretty invigorated and itchy to throw something up here. A few things lined up to make these muffins my return to the keyboard. Firstly, my crazy little "sister" surprised me with the coolest Halloween cupcake toppers, secondly, Ireland is experiencing its annual influx of cool and unusual pumpkins and squash. I'm still getting used to that, not having a wide arrange of fruit and veg all year round like we'd have back home in South Africa. Here in Ireland, it's butternut squash all year round, and that's as much as you're going to find in the main supermarkets. For anything slightly more unusual, you'd need to head to specialty fruit and veg stores. I guess that's not a big thing, but something I'm still getting used to even after eight years of living here. (Eight years?! When the bloody hell did that happen?!)
So, with my cupcake toppers inspiring the Halloween theme, discovering that something called a "Queen Squash" is unbelievably sweet and delicious, and, being in the mood for warming spices now that the air has a bite to it, I went with something that, I'll admit, isn't mind-blowing as far as recipes go. I've taken different elements from various recipes and have married them together into one of the tastiest muffins you'll ever try. So says me.
And, no, I'm not even going to pretend they're healthy. Most muffins aren't healthy no matter how you try spin it. To me, muffins are cupcakes without frosting. Okay, yes, technically the batter is a little different. One is a cake mix, the other a quickbread type of batter, but both still have all the evils of tasty, tasty sugar and all that which makes treats a treat. (Hence it's over here on the Decadent side of life.)
The muffin itself is my recipe for Spiced Pumpkin Bread and the streusel topping is adapted from my Banana Streusel Muffins. I've added pecan nuts in this variation 'cause I love them, and they always go well with spiced anything. I haven't included the recipe for the Salted Caramel Sauce because I always make the one from I Love Cooking, so head over there for the recipe. They've also got a video if you're a little nervous of the caramel making process.
The spiced muffin is so tender and pillowy. That's not a word, but you get my meaning. Then there's the crunch of the streusel topping in contrast. YES PLEASE! If you've never made a streusel sprinkle, it's basically a cookie dough that, once baked, becomes a sweet and crunchy topping. Then the salted caramel sauce. Mmmmm. Well, it goes with almost everything. (I wouldn't recommend it on pizza. Just putting that out there...) I had considered making it regular caramel, but after tasting it, I found my hands reaching for the salt. Caramel sauce will never be the same again after some genius accidentally put salt in there thinking they'd thrown in more sugar. I'm just kidding, I have no idea how it came to be. I've been watching "The Gilmore Girls" so my brain is now thinking in random anecdotal madness.
A friend at work said that these muffins are my best bake to date. Either I haven't been baking enough, or these are just that bloody delicious. I think it could be a combination of the two.
I don't have kids so don't take my word for it, but I think they'd love these. And, as a bona fide adult (well, for the most part...) I think these are great with a piping hot cup of coffee. Even better yet while they're still slightly warm in the middle.
And please, don't limit these to Halloween. If you have the luxury of getting your hands on squash and pumpkin all year round, or, if you have the canned variety, these muffins are always good. Although, I'll admit, probably best suited to colder weather.
So, how'd I do? Can I still blog?
I hope you enjoy these and happy baking! Here's hoping it's not another six months before the next post.
Spiced Pumpkin Muffins with Pecan Streusel Topping
(and Salted Caramel Sauce...)
Makes between 15-18 muffins (depending on size of muffin liners)
|For the Pecan Streusel Topping|
|60g||2oz||1/2 cup||Plain Flour|
|70g||2.5oz||1/3 cup, packed||Soft Light Brown Sugar|
|1/2 tsp||1/2 tsp||1/2 tsp||Cinnamon|
|1/4 tsp||1/4 tsp||1/4 tsp||Mixed Spice|
|60g||2oz||1/4 cup||Butter, softened|
|100g||3.5oz||1 cup||Chopped Pecan Nuts|
- Lightly whisk together dry ingredients in a bowl
- Add the softened butter and rub into dry ingredients with your fingertips
- Combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until combined
- Tip: There should be no dry ingredients left. At this stage it doesn't matter if there are large clumps and it should hold together like cookie dough when brought together
- Add the chopped pecan nuts and mix into the dough
- Roughly crumble the dough into a flat dish or on to a tray
- Refrigerate until needed
|For the Muffins|
|220g||8oz||1¾ cup||Plain Flour|
|1 tsp||1 tsp||1 tsp||Baking Soda|
|½ tsp||½ tsp||½ tsp||Salt|
|1 Tbsp||1 Tbsp||1 Tbsp||Ground Cinnamon|
|¾ tsp||¾ tsp||¾ tsp||Ground Ginger|
|¾ tsp||¾ tsp||¾ tsp||Ground Nutmeg|
|½ tsp||½ tsp||½ tsp||Ground All Spice|
|¼ tsp||¼ tsp||¼ tsp||Ground Cloves|
|225g||8oz||½ tin||Pumpkin Purée (see end of post for instructions)|
|125ml||4½fl oz||½ cup||Light Olive, Sunflower or Canola Oil|
|80ml||3fl oz||⅓ cup||Water|
|1 tsp||1 tsp||1 tsp||Vanilla Extract|
|250g||9oz||1¼ cup||Granulated White or Golden Sugar|
- Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C Fan Assisted) / 350°F
- Line muffin tins with paper liners
- Tip: You can get 15 larger cupcakes if you use tulip liners (like the ones in my photos), or 18 if you use regular muffin liners
- Sift together all dry ingredients expect for sugar and whisk to thoroughly mix
- In a large bowl using an electric mixer or wooden spoon, thoroughly mix together the pumpkin purée with the remaining wet ingredients and sugar
- Mix the dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture and stir until just combined
- Divide batter equally between muffin cases
- Remove streusel topping from the fridge and break up any large clumps, then scatter equally on top of the muffin batter
- Bake for 22 - 25 mins, or until a toothpick comes out clean
- Leave to cool in the baking tin for about 5 mins then remove muffins from tin and leave to cool on a wire rack
- Drizzle with salted caramel sauce
For the Salted Caramel Sauce, have a look at the recipe on I Love Cooking. I'd recommend making it ahead of time so that it's not molten hot. If it's a bit thick after cooling, nuke in the microwave on about 30% power for 10 second bursts just until soft enough to drizzle. Make sure to stir between each burst of heat.
Butternut (or other pumpkin) Purée
1x 750g Butternut = approx. 1 Can of Pumpkin Purée
1x 750g Pumpkin or Squash of Choice
Salt to season
- Preheat oven to 200°C (180°C Fan Assisted) / 400°F
- Cut the butternut in half length-ways
- Scoop out and discard the seeds
- Lightly sprinkle with salt
- Wrap each butternut half loosely in tinfoil
- Place on baking tray and bake for 40 - 50mins
- Tip: They're ready when you can easily pierce with a sharp knife
- Unwrap and leave to cool
- Once cool, scoop flesh out with a spoon and discard skins
Best eaten on the same day so that the streusel topping is crunchy, but still good the next day, although, not as crunchy a topping. Keep at room temperature in an airtight container