Sunday, February 19, 2012

More frosting! (plus some muffins)

My baking for the week may seem somewhat out of season here in the Northern hemisphere because it proudly features pumpkin! I still have plenty of pureed pumpkin in my freezer from last autumn and have been wanting to make these muffins for ages. Years ago, when I was in about my 3rd year of university, I had a pumpkin and did not know what to do with it. First of all, I made pumpkin pie for the first time ever and absolutely loved it. Then I simply typed 'pumpkin recipes' into google and one of the first things that caught my eye was these pumpkin muffins. Of course, that was about 5 years ago now so I have no idea where the recipe came from, and I can't even remember if this is the original recipe or if I have changed it. What I can tell you for sure is that my muffins seem to turn out differently every time and I don't know why. On this occasion I made two batches of muffins, one right after the other, because I wanted to feed plenty of people but I know that you shouldn't leave muffin batter sitting around for 20 minutes while you wait for the first batch to bake (I only have one muffin tin, you see). The only difference between the batches was that I used different baking powders (I ran out, but luckily had cream of tartar and baking soda to make my own) and one batter might have been a little overmixed. The resulting muffins were so different! One batch had sort of small, solid muffins with rough, pale tops. The other muffins were huge and sort of more cake-like, and more browned on the top. How strange is that? They were both delicious though. They didn't even need the cream cheese frosting but I added it anyway, because who can say no to frosting, really?

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

2 cups flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder (or, if you have none, 1 teaspoon baking soda and 2 teaspoons cream of tartar)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ginger (or more if you like ginger)
1/2 cup chocolate chips (100 grams)
1/2 cup pumpkin puree (150 grams)
125 grams butter
2 large eggs
1/3 cup milk (80 mL)

Muffin batter can be prepared very quickly so you really need to remember to turn the oven on before you start, so that it can heat up. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees celsius and prepare a 12-hole muffin tin (I used paper cases because then I don't have to clean the tin so much!).

In a large bowl, sift in the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, spices and salt. Add the white sugar (which, of course, cannot be sifted) and combine the dry ingredients as well as you can.

Place the butter in a separate bowl and heat it in the microwave until it is nearly melted (but don't melt it all the way because overheating the butter can ruin it). Add the pumpkin puree, eggs and milk and whisk the entire lot together well.

The next step is the part where you do not mix thing well: pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and gently fold the two together with a fork. You want all of the batter to be wet, but you do not want to overmix so don't stir it, just fold it slowly. And then you are ready to spoon the mixture into the muffin cases!

The muffin cases should only be filled about 3/4 of the way, but nobody will mind if their muffin is extra-large. Bake the muffins for 25 minutes, perhaps turning the tray around halfway through if you have an uneven oven.

Cream Cheese Frosting

125 grams soft, room temperature butter
2 1/2 cups icing sugar
250 grams cold, full-fat cream cheese
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional, or use something else, like cinnamon)

Using an electric beater, beat the butter until it is creamy. Then sift in the icing sugar a half-cup at a time, until you have a really thick frosting. Finally, take your cream cheese out of the fridge and add it to the frosting gradually, in about 3 or 4 parts. Beat it into the frosting until it is all just combined - you don't want to overmix this either, because apparently that can ruin the protein structure of the cheese and your frosting will become liquidy. If you want to add flavour, beat in a teaspoon of vanilla or some cinnamon. I used cinnamon and while it added a nice look to the frosting, you can't really taste it.

Now, this is an old recipe that I have changed a bit based on various recipes that I looked at from all over the web, but the method comes from this blog post that I found, on a blog all about cupcakes! It worked really well, keeping the cream cheese cold and not overbeating it is definitely good advice. I have one more comment to add to that though, based on a frosting disaster that I had a few years ago - you should always use full-fat cream cheese for frosting! The light stuff has too much water and you frosting will resemble soup. It will still taste good, but it won't look good.

Finally, one last little piece of advice. Don't put too much frosting in your piping bag, because if it is a cheap one (like mine was) it will probably burst. This weekend I am going to go out and treat myself to a good quality frosting bag because I have finally got used to using a bag and I have lots of nice metal tips for it, I don't want to go back to my frosting syringe-thing.

So, enjoy your muffins with their gratuitous but delicious frosting! This recipe is being shared on What Makes You Say Mmm and Recipe Party.

1 comment:

  1. Mmm...pumpkin and chocolate! Who could say no to that? Two of my very favorites. Stopping by from the Things that make you say Mmmm....hop Your newest follower.

    Cherished Handmade Treasure


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