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Espresso Spice Pumpkin Muffins

Espresso Spice Pumpkin Muffins
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.

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  • Lydia (The Perfect Pantry)
    September 19, 2011

    Pumpkin and espresso, an irresistible combination!

  • Stephanie
    September 19, 2011

    I never thought about espresso + pumpkin…but ooooh it looks amazing!

  • Judy
    September 20, 2011

    WoW! What a combination and the muffins look so irresistible!

  • Lauren at Keep It Sweet
    September 20, 2011

    This could be the perfect morning muffin!

  • Pattypro
    September 20, 2011


  • Kathryn | Dramatic Pancake
    September 20, 2011

    I absolutely love this time of year because I’m obsessed with pumpkin. Espresso is a year-round love, and the two of these put together is just amazing!

  • Karl
    September 20, 2011

    I tried this recipe and they are absolutely amazing! Some of the best muffins I have made in a while!

  • Gabriela Rodiles
    September 22, 2011

    This is a brilliant combination of flavors. It reminds me of what would happen if pumpkin muffins were dipped into coffee…but better. I love that Fall always calls for unique recipes incorporating pumpkin, and yours might be the most intriguing one I’ve seen so far!

    I have a food blog called Gourmet Gab and I am going to put a spotlight on pumpkin next week. I can’t wait to pass this recipe on!

  • Sue/the view from great island
    September 22, 2011

    I never thought of using instant coffee as ‘just another spice’, I love it! The combination of pumpkin and coffee in a muffin sounds wonderful, I can’t wait to try these.

  • Patty
    September 23, 2011

    I made these and they were fabulous. Very moist. The recipe is easy and definitely a “keeper”. Thank you.

  • spilledmylk@tumblr.com
    January 12, 2012

    this pumpkin muffin quickly became a favorite. many thanks, nicole!

    i made a vegan adaptation of the recipe and posted it on my blog: http://spilledmylk.tumblr.com/post/15681748804/vegan-espresso-spice-pumpkin-muffins-recipe

    (i’ve given you credit for the recipe but definitely let me know if you want the recipe edited further.)

  • Laurie
    June 19, 2012

    These muffins are delicious! The flavors combine more beautifully than I imagined possible. Really happy with the texture and flavor.

    I used whole wheat white flour, and replaced half the butter with yogurt (half as much yogurt as the half of butter, if that makes sense).

    So tasty, thanks for the awesome recipe. I blogged it too, and included the link back to here.

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