Pumpkin Spice Muffins

In a desperate attempt to recreate the Autumn Spice muffins from Tim Horton’s, I have come up with this recipe.  I know the best part of the Tim’s muffin is the sweet cream cheese filling…I haven’t quite figured out how to make that happen without the filling melting into the muffins as they bake and becoming a nasty, soggy centre.  I’ll keep trying, though.  I’m no quitter!  In the mean time, this is a pretty darn good pumpkin muffin.

Ingredients:

  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups pumpkin puree (canned or homemade*)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups spelt or whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 baking soda
  • 1 tsp  salt
  • [optional] pumpkin seeds, to garnish
  • [optional] coarse sugar, to garnish

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 375F and grease muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray or line with paper baking cups.
  2. In a mixing bowl, beat together the eggs, oil and sugar.
  3. Add the pumpkin, molasses and vanilla.  Stir until just combined.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add dry ingredients to wet and mix until combined.
  5. If desired, top muffins with a few pumpkin seeds and a sprinkling of coarse sugar.
  6. Bake for 22-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in centre of a muffin comes out clean.

Yield: 14 large muffins.

*To make your own pumpkin puree: Preheat oven to 350F. Remove stem, cut pumpkin in half and scoop out seeds and pulp. Place pumpkin, flesh side down, on an oiled baking sheet. Bake for one hour. Let roasted pumpkin cool completely before spooning out flesh and pureeing in a blender. Pumpkin puree can be stored in the freezer for several months. I like to divide it into one-cup portions and store it in freezer bags.

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Pumpkin Tart

Growing up in an Italian-Canadian family, Thanksgiving was never really a huge holiday in our home. My mom would maybe make a turkey — but there was no delicious stuffing or pumpkin anything on our table. I remember watching American movies and TV shows with their Thanksgiving tables laden with platters of delicious-looking food and wishing we could have some of that. We eventually introduced some canned cranberry sauce and grocery store pumpkin pie to the menu. Over the years, Thanksgiving has become somewhat of a family tradition for us; there’s turkey, stuffing, homemade cranberry sauce and this delicious pumpkin tart. The only thing missing from our table is that sweet potato casserole with the marshmallows on top. Haven’t tried that yet.  Maybe next year?

Ingredients:

For the crust:

  • 1 1/2 cups pecans
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup cold butter, cubed
  • 2-3 tbsp ice water

For the filling:

  • 2 cups pumpkin puree
  • 1 300ml can condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F and grease a nine-inch tart pan with cooking spray.
  2. Using a food processor, pulse the pecans, flour, sugar, salt and cinnamon together.
  3. Add in the butter, one cube at a time, until the mixture resembles coarse bread crumbs.
  4. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and add in the ice water, one tablespoon at a time, until the dough just comes together. Be careful not to add too much water or your crust will be soggy.
  5. Press the dough into the prepared tart pan. Bake crust for 12 minutes. Allow crust to cool while you prepare the filling.
  6. Increase oven temperature to 425F.
  7. Make the filling: In a bowl, whisk together the eggs and brown sugar until smooth.
  8. Next, add the pumpkin puree, condensed milk, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and salt.
  9. Pour the filling into the tart shell and bake for 15 minutes. Lower oven temperature to 350F and bake for an additional 30-35 minutes.
  10. Allow tart to cool completely before removing from pan.

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