Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins


Have you read my About Me page yet? If you have, you probably won't be surprised to learn that I am the type of person who always has a plan. And even when I don't intend to have a plan, I usually end up making one subconsciously. This is just one of my many neurotic tendencies that my loved ones (read: Stephen) have learned to love (read: tolerate) about me.

Needless to say, I don't like it when my plans don't work out. I hate having to scramble, rush, or improvise at the last minute. At the very least, it's annoying and inconvenient. Take today, for example: Stephen and I had planned to get some onion rings at Sonic (yum!), see The Social Network, and pick out a plant for our new condo. Instead, Stephen got called into work. Annoying and inconvenient, right?


Once in a while though, things don't go as planned, and it works out for the better. Which brings me to these Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins. I had planned to make Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread, but I ended up with muffins when I ran out of time to bake the batter in loaf pans.

In this case, I can't really be upset about my plan not working out because these muffins turned out to be exactly what I wanted. They're loaded with bittersweet and semisweet chocolate chips, and the cinnamon and nutmeg perfectly complement the pumpkin. In fact, they are so delicious, they didn't even need the cinnamon powdered sugar glaze that I had planned to use. I did still drizzle it on top of a couple muffins though. You know, just for good measure.


Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins
Adapted from King Arthur Flour

2/3 cup shortening
2-2/3 cups sugar
4 large eggs
2 cups pumpkin
2/3 cup water
3-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups chocolate chips

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line two 12-cup muffins tins with paper liners or grease with nonstick spray.

2. Cream the shortening at medium speed for about 1 minute. Gradually add the sugar and continue to cream at medium speed until combined. Whisk together eggs, pumpkin, vanilla, and water in a separate bowl. Add to the creamed shortening and sugar with the mixer at medium-low speed.

3. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon in a separate bowl. Reserve about 1/3 of this mixture, and add the rest to the wet ingredients at low speed just until fully incorporated.

4. In a small bowl, combine the reserved flour mixture with the chocolate chips, making sure that all chips are coated. Stir into the batter with a spoon. Note: The reserved flour mixture will help prevent the chocolate chips from sinking to the bottom of the batter.

5. Bake muffins at 350˚F for about 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into center muffin comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack.

6. If desired, drizzle with a cinnamon powdered sugar glaze made of 1 cup powdered sugar, 1/2 tablespoon cinnamon, and 1-2 tablespoons milk.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Pumpkin Scones


I have to admit something: I am one of those Starbucks people. And by that, I mean that I am one of those people who, on a regular basis, spends over $4 for a latté that probably costs 75¢ to make. And by "on a regular basis," I mean daily, without exception.

Although I love Starbucks products, what really keeps me going back is the atmosphere. I love how everything--from the menu to the merchandise to the music--changes seasonally. And of course, we all know that my favorite season is fall. Needless to say, I almost squealed (really, I almost did!) when I walked into Starbucks a few weeks ago and saw that Pumpkin Spice Lattés and Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins were finally back on the menu. But you know what I was even more excited about? The pumpkin scones, which had migrated from the bottom shelf of the pastry case to the highly-coveted top left shelf closest to the register.


If you, like me, are a Starbucks regular, you may know that these delicious scones are actually available year-round. But as long as I'm admitting things, I should tell you that I am one of those people who only eats breakfast food for breakfast, only listens to Christmas music after Thanksgiving, and only eats pumpkin scones during fall.

When I found a recipe for pumpkin scones that look exactly like the ones I have grown to love so much, I knew I had to try it out. I had never made scones before, so I was a little skeptical when the dough was too sticky and I couldn't form it into a rectangle and the glaze seemed too thick. . . but I refused to give up! And it's a good thing I didn't.




All modesty aside, my scones came out perfectly. Perfectly soft, perfectly spiced, perfectly sweet. I'm sorry, Starbucks, but you won't be receiving my $2 for your pumpkin scones anymore. Somehow, I think you'll survive.

Pumpkin Scones
Adapted from Brown Eyed Baker

2 cups all-purpose flour
7 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
6 tablespoons cold butter
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
3 tablespoons half-and-half
1 large egg

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 425˚F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and spices in a large bowl. Cut the butter into cubes and drop into the dry ingredients. With clean hands, rub the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture is crumbly and no large chunks of butter remain.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, half-and-half, and egg. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, and form the dough into a ball. On a floured surface, form the dough into a rectangle about 1/2 to 1 inch thick. Cut the dough into triangles or use a cookie or biscuit cutter to cut out shapes.

4. Bake the scones on the prepared baking sheet for 10-15 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack.

5. To make the powdered sugar glaze, whisk together 1 cup + 1 tablespoon powdered sugar with 2 tablespoons milk until smooth. One at a time, set each scone upside down in the glaze and pull straight out. Allow the glaze to set for 1-2 minutes, then dip each scone a second time.

6. To make the spiced glaze, combine 1 cup + 3 tablespoons powdered sugar with 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg, 1 pinch ground ginger, and 1 pinch ground cloves. Whisk in 2 tablespoons milk until smooth. Using a spoon, drizzle the spiced glaze over the scones as desired.