12 November 2013

Speculoos Cranberry Pumpkin Muffins

aesthetic fauna // speculoos cranberry pumpkin muffins
There's nothing like the imminent arrival of guests to inspire spontaneous housecleaning, which is the main reason I invite people over, and the main reason our house gets tidied up. Win-win. The key is to leave one area laughably messy, so the eye is drawn to the chaos. Then no one notices food caked on the side of the high chair or the dust bunnies convening under the sideboard. It's similar to the deceptive but undeniably effective way I approach personal hygiene.

The other day, a very dear friend showed up with some very bad news. The good old US of A is eating up yet another one of my friends, right in time for Christmas. Bah humbug, times a bazillion. In a last-ditch effort to charm her into staying, I served her my best breakfast burrito, my favorite muffins. Although my pitch failed, at least my house got clean, I got to squeeze one of my favorite people, and she left with a full belly.

This muffin recipe is not a new recipe in our house and little has changed in the way I make them; they are so moist, barely sweet, and forever altered the way I bake with cranberries. Few recipes call for fresh or frozen berries; the dried ones took the spotlight when Craisins got trendy. The problem is, they don't add moisture, and they're almost always sweetened; in something like a scone or a biscotti, they're perfect. But in a muffin, I want moist. I want to bite through a mildly sweet muffin, right into the shock of a tart cranberry. Fresh and frozen cranberries are only available here in the autumn, so I usually buy up a load and stash what I can in our tiny freezer. In the US, you can find them bagged in the frozen food section year-round.

I adjusted the seasoning a bit as a nod to speculoos, the buttery, heavily spiced cookie that reigns in Holland this time of year. Yum.

These bad boys, my friends, are sensory ecstasy. And although I'd like to claim they contain vegetables, I scored 100% on this quiz and know better.

aesthetic fauna // speculoos cranberry pumpkin muffins
aesthetic fauna // speculoos cranberry pumpkin muffins
aesthetic fauna // speculoos cranberry pumpkin muffins
Speculoos Cranberry Pumpkin Muffins
  • ½ c all-purpose flour
  • 1 ¾ c (220g) whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons ginger
  • ½ teaspoon white pepper
  • 4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • ⅓ cup (80ml) buttermilk (or milk + a squirt of lemon juice left to sour for 5 minutes)
  • ½ c dark (110g) brown sugar
  • ½ c (120ml) maple syrup
  • 1 ½ cups (578g) pumpkin puree, preferably homemade (roast a halved pumpkin, cut sides down, in a 350F/175C oven for 60-75 minutes or until the skin is soft enough to easily pierce with a fork, then puree in a blender/food processor with just enough water to get it completely smooth)
  • ¼ c (60ml) melted coconut oil or mild olive oil
  • 1/4 c (180ml) unsweetened applesauce
  • 2c fresh or frozen cranberries, whole
  1. Whisk together flours, baking soda, spices, and salt. 
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients until smooth.
  3. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet until just combined. 
  4. Dust the cranberries in just enough flour to coat them (keeps them from sinking), and fold them into the batter.
  5. Fill muffin cups (silicone or paper) three-quarters full. 
  6. At this point, you can either freeze the cups of unbaked batter until solid and transfer to an airtight container in the back of your freezer, or bake. 
  7. Bake at 200C/400F for 18-22 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool.