Pumpkin-flavored coffee drinks are seasonal items at many coffee shops, including big chains like Starbucks. Pumpkin and coffee might not sound like an obvious combination, but the fact that people pack these coffee shops on the first day of fall when they can get a pumpkin spice latte should be proof enough that the combination works, and works well. Pumpkin works very well with a wide variety of spices and coffee can really act as just another spice to give a pumpkin baked good character and richness.
These Espresso Spice Pumpkin Muffins treat instant coffee as just another spice added to the mixture of cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg that are added to the batter. I used instant espresso (Starbucks Via also works well and has a stronger flavor than other instant coffee products) to get the fullest flavor. The spices meld together and deliver a pumpkin muffin that definitely has a hint of coffee to it, but one that doesn’t overwhelm the pumpkin or the other spices. It simply has a darker and more gingerbread-like flavor than the muffins that don’t include coffee. It’s a nice change of pace for pumpkin baked goods and a definite winner if you’re a fan of gingerbread (in fact, adding ginger would enhance the gingerbread aspect). I dusted the tops of the muffins with a mixture of cinnamon, sugar and more instant coffee.
When you’re dealing with a muffin that is made with a lot of fruit or vegetable puree in it, like these pumpkin muffins or banana bread, the finished product can either be light and fluffy or more dense, more moist and with more flavor from the fruit puree. These fall on the denser, more banana bread-like end of the spectrum. That means that they’re moist and satisfying, as well as sturdy enough to being split in half and spread with butter or softened cream cheese. They keep well when stored in an airtight container for a couple of days, and also can be frozen when they are well wrapped.
Espresso Spice Pumpkin Muffins
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
6 tbsp butter
1 tbsp instant espresso powder
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1 1/4 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup milk (any kind)
Cinnamon Espresso Sugar Mixture, for topping (below)
Preheat oven to 375F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners or lightly grease and flour.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.
In a microwave safe bowl, melt butter. Whisk in instant espresso and other spices.
In a large bowl, whisk eggs and sugar together until well blended. Stir in pumpkin puree and vanilla extract, followed by melted butter and spice mixture.
Stir in half of the flour mixture, followed by the milk. Stir in remaining flour mixture, mixing just until everything is combined and no streaks of dry ingredients remain.
Divide batter evenly into prepared muffin cups. Top generously with sugar topping mixture.
Bake for 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffin comes out clean.
Turn muffins out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Cinnamon Espresso Sugar Mixture
3 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp instant coffee or espresso
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice
Whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl. Sprinkle generously over muffin batter before baking.