The colors, smells and foods of autumn arouse feelings and memories of family and friends, even childhood. Pumpkin plays a big part of that, and in the fall, they are everywhere from pumpkin-scented candles to pumpkin-decorated flower beds and porches throughout our neighborhoods. Nowhere are pumpkins more wonderful, however than in the kitchen. Pumpkin-cranberry muffins are the perfect fall food. They can be eaten for breakfast, tossed in a lunch for school, served at a board meeting or even topped with a little white icing and offered up as dessert.
Here’s what you’ll need:
1/2 cup granulated sugar
½ cup packed light brown sugar
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
2 tsp each ground cinnamon and vanilla extract
1-1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
2 large eggs plus 2 large egg whites
1 1/4 cups pumpkin purée
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 cups fresh, frozen or dehydrated cranberries, halved
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 20 muffin cups with paper liners and set aside. In a large mixing bowl, beat sugars, butter, spices, vanilla, salt, baking powder and baking soda together for 2 minutes.
Add eggs and egg whites, beating thoroughly. Next, add pumpkin, using a low speed to just mix in. Alternate adding flour and milk until both have been completely added. Stir in berries.
Use a ¼ cp measuring scoop to pour batter into each cup. Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let the muffins cool on a rack for 5 minutes before removing from pans.
2/3 cup confectioner's sugar
3 Tbsp pure maple syrup
No more than 4 hours before serving stir the sugar and syrup together. Scrape the mixture into a Ziploc sandwich bag and cut a tiny tip of one corner off. Drizzle over muffins and garnish with toasted pumpkin seeds, if desired.
Use homemade pumpkin puree. Simply remove the top and the innards from a pumpkin, slice it into sections and bake in the oven for 45 to 60 minutes at 325 or until soft. Then scoop cooked pumpkin away from outer skin and puree in blender. Store in 1-quart freezer bags until ready to use.
You can also use homemade dehydrated cranberries. Pick up plenty of bags of cranberries in the fall when they are in abundance and on sale and dehydrate them for long term storage.