Monday, October 3, 2011

Pumpkin Mini-Muffins Are Delightfully 'Autumn'; Centuries-Old Fruit, Seemingly American, Has International Origins

When the weather turns colder like it did here in New York this weekend, my thoughts turn to....baking! Maybe they shouldn't ('weighty' matters notwithstanding), but a can of pumpkin pulp was calling me from my pantry and I was defenseless. Besides, I had a small party to go to and offered to bring the muffins along as a contribution.

I saw this recipe in a magazine recently paired with a cream cheese maple frosting. In addition to the can of pumpkin, I also had a can of prepared cream cheese frosting and decided to 'lace' it with a couple of teaspoons of pure maple syrup. Cheating? You bet! But it worked and tasted almost as good as the real thing would have. I'll list the ingredients and instructions as it was originally intended.

There probably will be a few 'pumpkin' posts this month and I'll share some notes on pumpkin history today. The name pumpkin has it's origins in the Greek language but changed from country to country several centuries ago. The Greek word for 'large melon' is 'pepon. The French pronounced it 'pompon' and the Brits changed 'pompon' to 'pumpion' and those headstrong American colonists changed "pumpion" into 'pumpkin.'

The colonists discovered that Native Americans had many uses for the pumpkin. Dried strips of pumpkin were woven into mats. Roasted strips of pumpkin were cooked on the open fire. Not to be upstaged, the colonists invented pumpkin pie when they sliced off the top, removed the seeds, filled the insides with milk, spices and honey then baking it in hot ashes.

The bright orange color of pumpkin indicates that the fruit is loaded with an beta-carotene, an important antioxidant. Beta-carotene is a plant that converts to vitamin A in the body. When that occurs, beta carotene may reduce the risk of developing certain types of cancer and offers protect against heart disease. Beta-carotene offers protection against other diseases as well as some degenerative aspects of aging. One cup of cooked pumpkin, without added salt, is only 49 Calories. There are 2 grams of protein, 3 grams of dietary fiber, 37 mg of calcium and 12 mg of vitamin C in the same one cup amount.

Of course, when you make mini-muffins with icing, it isn't as healthy as ingesting a pure cup of pumpkin, but 'mini' is the operative word here so it could be a lot worse.  

Mini-Pumpkin Muffins With Maple Icing
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg, ground ginger, ground all spice and ground cloves
1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin 
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 eggs
3/4 cup vegetable oil

  • Place cupcake papers in mini muffin pans.
  • Combine flour and other dry ingredients in a medium bowl.
  • Combine pumpkin, sugars, eggs and oil in a large bowl. 
  • Add flour mix to pumpkin mix in small batches strirring until moistened. 
  • Spoon into pans, filling about 3/4 full.
  • Bake for 15-20 minutes until muffins rise. 
  • Remove from pans and cool on wire racks.
  • Drop dollops of frosting on top when cooled. 
  • Top with a walnut or two!
Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
16 ounces softened cream cheese
1/2 cup softened butter
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
4 cups powdered sugar

  • Mix cream cheese, butter and syrup until combined and light and fluffy.
  • Gradually add powdered sugar, until well blended.

No comments:

Post a Comment