Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Pumpkin Pecan Streusel Muffins

These muffins just look and breathe of fall.  After they came out of the oven, I leaned over the pan to breathe in their spicy, pumpkin-y aroma.  And then split one open while it was almost too hot to eat, just to find out if they tasted as good as they looked.  They lived up to all of my pumpkin dreams.

The only thing standing between me and that dream, though, is that there is a serious shortage of canned pumpkin in stores right now.  Considering that everyone is baking up a storm of pumpkin recipes, this is practically a state of emergency!  Okay, maybe it's not that serious, but it is inconvenient.  Fortunately, I had one large can left from last winter which I used for my pumpkin snickerdoodles and for these muffins.  But I need to stock up on more, so when I was at the grocery store on Friday, I searched and searched for pumpkin, finally finding 3 lonely cans left at the back of a bottom shelf.  I bought 2 and left 1 for someone else, which I thought was nice of me, although now I'm wishing I'd just bought all 3 while I had the chance, since tonight when Jamie and I shopped for groceries for the week, there was absolutely none left.

These muffins are possibly the best muffins I've ever made, and I don't think there's a thing I would change about this recipe.  I used my recipe for pumpkin bread as a starting point, noted a few things I wanted to alter for a batch of muffins, and the result was, dare I say, perfection?  I hesitate using that word, since I rarely think a recipe is perfect, and there's almost always something I would change about it, but really, with these, I just wouldn't.

In these muffins the pumpkin flavor is so nicely enhanced by the cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger, and I love the crunchy toasted pecans throughout.  You simply have to toast the pecans.  It's not an option.  And of course, the streusel topping is just sweet enough with a slight crunch to give a wonderful textural balance to the soft muffins.

I ate one of these warm from the oven, and although I loved it on its own, I wouldn't argue with you if you thought a little lemon curd or cream cheese spread on a split muffin, or even a drizzle of honey, would be good.  Mmm, now I want another one with some honey on it...

Pumpkin Pecan Streusel Muffins

muffin batter
  • 1 1/4 cups canned pumpkin puree
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1 cup applesauce (no sugar added)
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 cup chopped, toasted pecans
streusel topping
  • 1/4 cup chopped, toasted pecans
  • 6 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 350.  Spread the 1 1/4 cups pecans on a baking sheet and toast in the oven while the oven preheats (about 10 minutes).  Place 24 paper liners in muffin pans.

In a large bowl, combine the pumpkin, sugar, oil, eggs, vanilla and applesauce, and whisk until well combined.  In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger.   Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, stirring until just combined.  With a spatula, stir in 1 cup of the toasted chopped pecans.

Fill the cups 3/4 full with the batter.  In a small bowl, combine the remaining 1/4 cup pecans, brown sugar, flour, butter and cinnamon, and mash with a fork until moist and crumbly.  Sprinkle the topping on the muffin batter.

Bake for 18-20 minutes until slightly golden and a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool on wire racks and serve warm or cold.  These are delicious on their own, but a little lemon curd,  cream cheese or honey spread on one wouldn't hurt either.

Yields 24 muffins.