Friday, January 10, 2014

High-fiving myself in the kitchen

These are the best pumpkin muffins I've ever made.

I mean it.

And that's not bragging, it's just honesty.

They are moist, tender, fluffy and not afraid to flaunt their pumpkin goodness. I wanted to eat at least half a dozen with a cool glass of milk and then the other half with hot ginger lemon tea.

Alas, my stomach would not allow such indulgences, so instead, I settled for one each morning, sometimes slathered with almond butter, but most often naked and slightly warmed in the microwave.

Family and friends lucky enough to share these muffins will never know that they're packed with whole grain flour, flax meal and olive oil - they'll just gobble them up. And I really can't blame them.

I have dreams of pouring the whole bowl of batter into a bundt pan.  Hello, my new brunch favorite!

Doughnut Pumpkin Muffins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Use a bit of olive oil on a cloth to grease 10 muffin cups or line them.

In a medium bowl, whisk together:

1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/3 cup ground flaxseed (grind your own from seeds or buy flax meal)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (Gryffon Ridge makes a lovely blend)

In a large bowl, whisk:

1 1/3 cups pumpkin puree (roast your own pumpkin - you won't be sorry!)
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 cup agave
2 egg yolks

Whip the 2 egg whites until fluffy and full of peaks that hold their shape.
Roughly chop 1/2 cup dried tart cherries.

Mix dry ingredients into wet just until combined. Gently fold in egg whites and cherries. Divide batter between the 10 muffin cups (they'll be very full).

Bake for 15-20 minutes (depending on your oven).

Cool until no longer hot and steamy.  Then dip tops into melted coconut oil, followed by a mixture of cane sugar, cinnamon and ground ginger. Eat warm!

And is if that wasn't enough, I had my sights set on making a batch of soft, gingery molasses cookies - big and bold with a nice crunch of turbinado and a spicy bite of real ginger. 

The mix of intoxicating spices filled the entire house as the oven transformed the generous balls of dough into the best friend a glass of cold milk could ask for.

In fact, the cookies were so big, I had a tough time fitting them into my cookie jar.  And I wouldn't have it any other way.  

Spiced Molasses Cookies

Place one oven rack in the middle of the oven, preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and line 2 cookie sheets with silicone mats or parchment paper.  

In a medium bowl, whisk together:

2 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon Saigon cinnamon (also called Vietnamese cinnamon) OR 1 t standard cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

In a standing mixer, whip:

1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature until light and fluffy

Then add:
3/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup walnut oil
1 large egg
1/4 cup molasses
2 tablespoons fresh, grated ginger

Mix well on medium speed to combine.

On low speed, gradually add in the flour mixture, mixing to combine.

Spread about 1/4 of turbinado sugar on a plate. Roll almost 1/4 cup of dough into a large ball and then roll in the plate to coat with sugar. Repeat with remaining dough, placing balls onto cookies sheets with 2 inches of space in between (you'll need to bake a few rounds of these).

Bake cookies one sheet at a time for about 14 minutes until tops are fairly firm, but still soft in the center, and there are gorgeous cracks on the surface.

Cool on the sheet for 5 minutes, transfer to a rack to cool completely.

I got 17 cookies out of this recipe, though the original states only 14. Perhaps I used a scant 1/4 cup of dough - they were still mammoth.

These are amazing warm and delicious right out of the cookie jar. They keep very well in an airtight container or covered jar for up to 2 weeks.

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