Monday, November 28, 2011

On Cheating With Food (Pumpkin Muffins)

Ohmygod PUMPKIN.

I love this time of year because it's the one time when pumpkin is in plentiful supply. Or at least would be if we hadn't had such a dry (or alternatively wet, depending on where you are) fall, that led to a *gasp* decrease in pumpkin!

That aside, I am completely addicted to the flavor of pumpkin. In pies, breads, muffins, Blizzards (thanks for THAT, Dairy Queen), or practically any application. I've never tried pumpkin soup but I'm pretty sure I would love it, even though it lacks the traditional spice that we're used to. Pumpkin is the one squash that I'd take under my wing as my best friend if I thought such a relationship wouldn't be questioned in public.

But most of the options involving pumpkin also involve baking, and, well.. Um.. I don't like to bake.

You might've noticed it from my post about artisan bread the other day, but I'm kinda lazy. I don't like having to pull out 10 different ingredients and then sift them and PS measuring and processing and mixing liquids with just liquids and solids with just solids and SHOOT ME NOW. I am a disturbingly lazy person when it comes to all this effort, although Hubby tends to do all of these things to make amazing cakes, cookies, and brownies when he feels the whim (and I am so jealous, let me tell you). I know that there is a distinct difference in flavor and texture between homemade and mixes. I KNOW. SERIOUSLY. I've tasted it first hand and I agree 100% that it's DIFFERENT. In a good way.


Yes, these two points do come together, so stick with me.

Anyway, I like pumpkin but I don't like to bake. Obviously these two points had to intersect and they did so this morning when I realized that I wanted Pumpkin. Muffins. NOW.

The down side to this is that it required baking and Hubby has been busy making characters for the 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons game he's running this Sunday with the remainders of our game group that haven't fled town for the holiday, and has honestly been kind of grumpy about ANY interruptions. I wasn't about to ask him to make me some fucking pumpkin muffins RIGHT THIS SECOND when I already had plans on tossing a loaf of bread in the oven. I was already going to bake. What was keeping me from making muffins if I wanted them so badly?

Oh, yeah. Effort.

But like all things, I was determined to find an easier but just as tasty way to get what I wanted. And I found that way with a box of white cake mix and a can of pureed pumpkin. And some spices.

Yeah, I went there.

1 "regular" can pureed pumpkin (is it like 6 or 8 oz? I have no idea...)
1 box any brand white or yellow cake mix (I can't imagine the two really being any different; if you wanted to, I could see a spice cake mix working equally well. You rebels out there might go with chocolate. I commend you.)
1 muffin tray (maybe two depending on size?)
Ground nutmeg (like 1/2 tbsp?)
Ground cinnamon (about 1 tbsp?)
Ground cloves (uh, 1/4 tbsp?)

1) Turn oven to 350 or whatever you traditionally bake at. You know your oven, I don't.
2) Open cake mix. Put into bowl.
3) Open can of pumpkin. Put into bowl.
4) Add spices until you're pretty sure you have the flavor you're looking for.
5) Mix.

This is the point at which I have to stop and make a statement: You are going to want SO BADLY to add liquids. Maybe you're thinking eggs, or oil, or even just water. Maybe it's lemon juice (because you're a rebel like that). Whatever it is, DON'T DO IT. It's gloppy looking and thick at first but HAVE FAITH! (The only exception is if you have a can of pumpkin from a SERIOUSLY dry batch. In which case, add water one tablespoon at a time until you can actually incorporate the pumpkin into the cake mix, or vice versa.)

Do not fall victim to the ploy of the muffins. Excess liquid of any sort (other than the exception listed above) is NOT NECESSARY.

6) Put into muffin tin. Use paper or foil cups if you want, even silicone, I don't really care - it won't matter, no matter what you're going to get some serious awesome. I sprayed the tin first even though it was non stick and they came out easily right after baking.
7) Bake for 20-30 minutes or until they look "done". At the point of "done" they will still have a faint spot of "moist" looking batter in the middle of them; ignore this. If the sides have browned well and they stay together, don't risk burning. This spot is apparently completely normal and will not affect the texture or "doneness" of the muffins. THEY'RE DONE. Take 'em out and let them sit.

Or don't. Take them out of the pan right away if you want to; I did, and they're still completely intact and happy-looking.

My batter and the size of my muffin tin (admittedly large) yielded me seven muffins. I used way too much in some of the muffins (see that huge honkin' muffin back there in the back right?) and I think if I had been more careful with my batter, I could have made an even number like eight without difficulty. I think these would make adorable mini muffins in a smaller muffin tin with an even shorter cook time.

Add on a homemade (or, you know, NOT homemade) cream cheese icing of your choice and these would be even better. They're heavy without being too thick, and I think they would make an awesome quick breakfast if you're hurrying out the door.

Go. Make them now. DO IT.

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