These pumpkin spice muffins are just the fix you are searching for when the cozy season beckons. Sweet and creamy pumpkin puree that I make from scratch marries the warm, aromatic spices that scent the air with fall deliciousness. The cake of this muffin is perfectly moist and big on flavor. Topped with toasted pumpkin seeds or my creamy brown butter maple frosting, these will be a treat for all to indulge.
My secret to a rich, deep, pumpkin flavor is actually… butternut squash! Butternut squash is otherwise known as butternut pumpkin in some countries- so I’m not really deviating from pumpkin muffins. The typical round orange sugar pumpkin that is so prevalent in the United States is great for adding moisture to many baked goods, but really, over the years I have found an inconsistent flavor that yearns for more sweetness and creamy texture. So, using all natural and clean ingredients to amplify the flavor, I roast some butternut squash, along with a pie pumpkin. I use 1 part pumpkin and 1 part butternut squash and the texture and flavor is PERFECTION. The butternut squash is sweet, creamy, and has some underlying butterscotch notes which complement the lacking flavor and watery texture of pumpkin. When whipped together with sugar, eggs, and oil… the squashes provide the perfect base for these muffins.
Pumpkin and butternut squash are highly nutritious. They are both high in antioxidants vitamins E and C, and as indicated by their deep orange hues, they are highest in beta-carotene (vitamin A). These vitamins are essential for healthy skin and nails, improved eye sight, preventing diseases, and even prevents aging of your skin. Even more important to me and my little ones at home, pumpkins and butternut squash are high in fiber, which is excellent for improving digestive health such as preventing constipation and reducing the risk for digestive cancers or diabetes.
Hey, I am not claiming these muffins will save your life :), but these are no ordinary muffin. These muffins are also easily adaptable as a healthy breakfast muffin for your family. Simply cut the sugar down a bit, and mix in some flaxseeds, oats, hemp seeds, nuts, cranberries, dark chocolate chunks, or raisins to the recipe (see recipe notes below). You can truly make these how you like! I LOVE pumpkin and chocolate.
For that warm sultry spice combination, I mix a generous amount of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves. The ginger and cloves give a very nice balance to the sweetness of the cinnamon and squash. Using high quality and the correct type of ingredients is important for great flavor and results. I use Vietnamese cinnamon with 4.5% oil because it has a stronger flavor excellent for baking, which you can both smell and taste as you bite into the muffin. This is the best cinnamon to use in baking. It is both sweet and spicy and adds such warmth and depth, to the flavors of this pumpkin muffin. For the sugar, definitely use dark brown sugar. It has deeper notes of maple syrup goodness. Dark brown sugar also holds more moisture and is more acidic which means it will react with the baking soda to make a nice fluffy muffin.
These muffins can also be made into an ultra decadent treat. I recently made these muffins, frosted with brown butter icing for my daughter’s birthday treat in class and it was a big hit!
Pumpkin Spice Muffins
- 2 1/2 c flour cake flour HIGHLY recommended
- 2 tbsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 4 tsp cinnamon
- 1.5 tsp ground ginger
- 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp ground cloves
- 1 tsp all spice
- 2 c mashed pumpkin (baked then scooped out)
- 1 c mashed butternut squash (baked then scooped out)
- 1 c brown sugar
- 1/2 c white sugar
- 4 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 3/4 c olive oil or vegetable oil
- 1 c dark chocolate chips or cranberries or nuts OPTIONAL
For the icing
- 8 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1/2 c dark brown sugar
- 2-3 c powdered sugar
- 6 tbsp softened butter or creamcheese
- 2 tbsp pure maple syrup
- Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees (F). Slice open the pumpkin and butternut squash, remove seeds, and place facedown on a pan lined with parchment paper and bake for 20-30 minutes until you can easily pierce the skin with a fork. Remove and allow to cool or store in the refrigerator until ready to bake (up to 3 days). Reduce temperature to 350 F.
- In a medium sized bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and all the spices.
- In the bowl of a standing mixer add the mashed pumpkin and squash and sugars. Mix until smooth and creamy (about 3 minutes).
- Add the eggs, one at a time, and the vanilla powder. Mix well (about 1 minute).
- Add the oil and mix until smooth (about 1 minute)
- Slowly fold in the flour mixture, careful not over mix.
- Add in any optional mix-ins you choose such as nuts, chocolate, oats, at this step.
- With a scoop, fill the cavities of a cupcake pan or muffin pan.
- Bake for 13-15 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. The tops should puff up and be firm in the center.
For the icing
- Melt 1 stick of butter in a small pot over medium heat. Move the butter around until it begins to brown and smell toasty.
- Stir in the brown sugar. Simmer for about 3 minutes on low-medium heat, without scorching. Set aside and allow to cool for about 10 minutes.
- In a standing mixer, sift together 2 cups of powdered sugar with the whisk attachment. On medium speed, slowly add in the 6 tbsp pf soft butter or cream cheese and maple syrup.
- Slowly pour in the butter and brown sugar mixture. Slowly add in some of the last cup of powdered until you have achieved the thickness of icing desired. Keep in mind, the frosting/icing will further harden once the melted butter cools to room temperature.