Pumpkin can be a great addition to muffins and cakes. Like other fruit purees, including applesauce, pumpkin can really add a lot of moisture to a cake. It can also make the muffins a little bit heavy if you’re not careful and use too much of it. A good pumpkin muffin has a balance between moistness and fluffiness so you know that you’re eating a pastry and not just a big hunk of dough.
These pumpkin muffins are some of my favorites. They’re moist and slightly chewy, but not too dense or heavy. They’re a beautiful orangy yellow color and have high, domed tops. My “secret” to making these is to bake them at a fairly high temperature and to use a bit more baking powder than I normally might include for extra lift. When the muffins are baked at a higher temperature, the muffins seem to rise faster and become a bit airier inside. They also become slightly firmer on the sides and top, which provides a nice contrast between the softer inside and the edges of the muffin. This is especially true of the sugar-coated muffin top, since it takes on a nice crispiness as the sugar caramelizes during baking.
Pumpkin on its own doesn’t have a strong flavor, especially when it has to compete with the other elements of the muffin mix. I use homemade pumpkin pie spice to add flavor to my muffins and give them a pie-like flavor. The rest of the flavor in the muffins comes from the milk chocolate chips that are added to the batter. I think that milk chocolate really complements the natural sweetness of the pumpkin without overwhelming it; dark chocolate, and even semisweet chocolate, has a slight bitterness that tends to overwhelm more subtle flavors. Use really good quality milk chocolate chips (I use Guittard’s milk chocolate chips) for these muffins, ones that you would want to eat by the handful if you weren’t baking with them. Or, just buy a bar or two of your favorite plain milk chocolate, chop it into chunks and stir them into the batter.
I have made mini muffins and regular muffins with this batter. The recipe below gives baking times for both sizes.
Pumpkin Muffins with Milk Chocolate Chips
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups milk chocolate chips (or chunks)
coarse sugar, for topping
Preheat oven to 400F. Line 16 muffin cups (one or two tins) with paper liners.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice and salt.
In a large bowl, whisk together melted butter, pumpkin puree, sugar, brown sugar and eggs until smooth. Stir in half of the flour mixture, followed by the buttermilk and the vanilla extract. Stir in the rest of the flour, mixing only until no streaks of flour remain. Mix in chocolate chips.
Divide batter evenly into prepared muffin cups, filling each just about to the top. Sprinkle with coarse sugar. If both your pans don’t fit into the oven at the same time, it’s ok to leave one sitting out on the counter while the first batch bakes.
Bake for 15-18 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Cool on a wire rack.
Makes 16 muffins.
Note: If making mini muffins, fill each muffin cup up just about to the top and bake for 10 minutes. You will get 48 mini muffins with this recipe.