Sometimes, you just have a bad day.
And I mean a terrible day.
Nothing goes right, you’re cranky, irritable, fed-up and frustrated.
So was Monday of this past week…an evening spent ignoring all homework, unable to focus, glued to facebook….
What does any of this have to do with cooking ?
Because had I not been so downright pissed, I wouldn’t have made these muffins which you are about to discover – the best cure for a case of the grumpies : Pumpkin chocolate-chip muffins. My mom often made this during the month of October (or just in autumn really) as a treat for my sister and I when we got back from school after a rough morning, so I figured they would be my best bet at regaining a little joie de vivre. These muffins, best served warm, are an excellent compliment to a cup of tea on a chilly afternoon. The pumpkin is accentuated nicely by a blend of spices, often called “pumpkin pie spice,” consisting of ginger, cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon. So – get rid of that awful day ! Roll up your sleeves, grease the muffin tin, and get some cheap (cooking) therapy.
Pumpkin Chocolate-Chip Muffins
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Before mixing anything together – make sure to grease the muffin tin. Muffins are funny – unlike cupcakes, they do not have handy little liners to ensure a clean escape from the pan. As a result, they often stick and refuse removal. Do yourself a favor – even if you have a nonstick pan, use the wrapper form the stick of butter you are going to melt and just quickly wipe the inside of each cup. You can also use a nonstick spray, such as Pam, to oil the tin.In one bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt (if desired) and pumpkin pie spice.OH ! A word on that spice mixture. Pumpkin pie spice can be bought in supermarkets but I rarely have it on hand simply because I like to “personalize” my spice blends. The spices involved here are CLOVES, CINNAMON, NUTMEG and GINGER and maybe ALLSPICE. Ground cloves are very strong – a little goes a long way. Nutmeg is a spice that is used in both sweet AND savory dishes and goes very well with fruits. Cinnamon is fairly common – I tend to add more cinnamon than called for in a recipe as I find the flavor pleasant. Ginger is the star of items like gingerbread (surprise) in the baking world and asian cuisine in the cooking world. Like cloves, it tends to be powerful so again – less is more. I love cloves and nutmeg, so I am more heavy-handed with these spices in my recipes. You have been warned.
SO – if you have these lovely additions on hand in your kitchen, add the following amounts to the flour mixture :
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp ginger
Mix the dry ingredients together so that they are well-incorporated and set this aside.
On the stovetop (on in the microwave…), melt the butter. Measure out the pumpkin and put this in a large mixing bowl. Add the butter to the pumpkin, mixing well. Continually stirring, pour the sugar into the pumpkin mixture, stirring until the mixture has lightened slightly and looks smooth. To this, add both eggs and vanilla, again stirring until everything is uniform.
Take the dry ingredients and fold them into the wet ingredients, mixing until JUST COMBINED. The tough bit about muffins is…well…they can get tough. Literally. Over-mixing the dough will make for an unpleasantly dense and almost elastic texture that should be avoided.
Add the chocolate chips. The recipe suggests 1 cup – I say it’s your call. If you love chocolate, go ahead and add a bit more. If you prefer pumpkin, do not add as many. Simple. :)
Using a spatula, slowly portion out the dough into the muffin cups. Be careful not to fill each cup to the brim as it will overflow and consequently burn. Regular muffin pans are a pain to wash…burned ones are a nightmare SO this is to be avoided. I suggest filling each cup until about 2/3 full. If you have extra batter (it happens) fill the muffins on the edges, rather than the middle, first. These will have a tendency to cook faster and therefore if fuller than the muffins on the inside, will not be dry.
Cook for 15 – 20 minutes or until the muffins are springy to the touch. Allow them to cool for 10 minutes before removing or eating. If you attempt to take them out right away, they might fall apart. Better to err on the safe side. Also – you’ll burn your tongue. Can’t you hear your mother now ?
Happy nibbling !