Pumpkin Muffins Three Ways

Halloween and Autumn mean not only will a bunch of candy will be brought into the house but also pumpkins! I’ve found myself thinking of creative ways to eat the pumpkins as opposed to just trashing them. Last year, I tinkered around with Cranberry Pumpkin Scones. We’ve got a lot of pumpkins this year so this will be one part of a series of “what the hell can I do with this pumpkin?” recipes.

 

I’m indecisive. I was also hungry, so I found it difficult to decide which direction to go with the muffins. When all else fails, do it all and feel guilty about it later lol.

 

The base of the muffins remains the same across the board. I divided the batter and individualized three different batches. Cranberry Pumpkin, which is very tart and tangy. Orange Pumpkin, which is beautifully flavored and scented using fresh orange zest and a squeeze of juice. Spiced Pumpkin, which made me actually say “wow!” I topped the muffins with leftover streusel from my Cranberry Peach Muffins. The streusel seriously sets off the Orange and the Spiced. I eyeballed my fixins so really, just add your goodies to taste.

 

Obviously, this recipe called for fresh, roasted pumpkin but if you’re using canned that’s perfectly fine too.

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Basic Pumpkin Muffin Batter

Yields roughly 15
Ingredients:

1 ¾ cup all purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

½ tsp salt

½ c vegetable oil

¾ c granulated sugar

½ cup lightly packed brown sugar

2 c pumpkin puree (fresh or canned)

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 large eggs

¼ c milk

 

Streusel

 

Optional add ins:

Fresh cranberries

Pumpkin spice or cinnamon, nutmeg and all spice (to taste)

Freshly grated orange zest, at least one orange and a squeeze of juice

 

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees
  2. Spray muffin tins with cooking spray
  3. In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients and in another bowl combine wet ingredients including puree20171104_11175120171104_112426
  4. Carefully fold wet into dry until just combined and you don’t see any splotches of flour
  5. At this point, I divided the batter into three bowls
  6. Gently fold in cranberries into one batch20171104_113037 copy
  7. Zest your orange, gently combine zest and squeeze of juice into one batch20171104_112835 copy
  8. Add your spices, adjust ratio to suit your tastes20171104_113025
  9. Bake at 425 for 5-6 minutes then reduce to 350 degrees, bake until they pass the toothpick test, about 15-20 minutes.
    • Do not forget to reduce from 425 to 35020171104_11415520171104_114558
  10. Allow them to cool in the tin before removing20171104_12181720171104_121820
  11. Store in an airtight container in the fridge

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© 2017 by Alexa Mason. All Rights Reserved

Cranberry Peach Muffins

Have I mentioned how much I love Autumn? I went to the grocery store and I noticed that the cranberries have been released! Tis the season! I love to hoard cranberries throughout the fall and winter. I usually keep a bunch in the freezer. I use cranberries in my baking and my smoothies. I often task myself with coming up with new ways to use them. I bought cranberries and peaches. I sat around considering what I would do with the combination. I thought maybe a pie. Maybe clafoutis. Maybe a tart. I knew I was kidding myself; these were meant to be muffins. I topped most of these with streusel and that really set these babies off.

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Ingredients:

2 cups all purpose flour

1 cup granulated sugar

2 tsp baking powder

½ tsp salt

1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, melted

 

2 large eggs, room temperature

½ cup half and half, room temperature

½ tsp vanilla

 

2 peaches, chopped

1 ½ – 2 cups of fresh cranberries

 

 

 

Directions:

 

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
    • I know this seems high but we will be lowering the temperature. Science and stuff. This process will help you get a ‘taller’ muffin. Who doesn’t love muffin tops? Ask Elaine Benes.
  2. Butter and flour a cupcake tin, shake out excess flour.
  3. In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine dry ingredients.
    • You can do this by hand using a whisk and rubber spatula. My kiddo just really enjoys using the stand mixer so we used the stand mixer.
  4. In a small bowl, combine liquid ingredients.
  5. Using the paddle attachment, turn the mixer on low. Slowly add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients.
  6. You do not want to overmix. The batter may have lumps and that is perfectly okay.
  7. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the fruit20171020_181605 copy20171020_18190020171020_182001 copy20171020_182453 copy
  8. Spoon the batter into the tin, to the top.
  9. Bake at 425 for 5-6 minutes
  10. Lower temperature to 350 degrees. DO NOT FORGET THIS STEP.
  11. Bake for about 15-20 minutes, or until the muffins pass the toothpick test.
  12. Allow them to cool in the tin before removing.20171020_190951 copy20171020_191047 copy
  13. These are best day of but can be stored in airtight Tupperware in the fridge.

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© 2017 by Alexa Mason. All Rights Reserved

Grown Up Double Chocolate Brownies

Listen, these ain’t Betty Crocker’s brownies.

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These are sinfully indulgent. Butter, cocoa powder and dark chocolate chips throughout. Chocolate is absolutely the star of this recipe. The brownies are moist, gooey, not super sweet. You can also taste little flecks of salt.  I’m telling you, these are very grown brownies.

Add more or less chocolate morsels. Top with nuts. Go crazy! (But honestly, they are so f*cking good, they can stand alone.)

 

Ingredients:

1 Cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter

2 cups of granulated sugar

1 ¼ cups of cocoa powder

1 tsp coarse salt

1 tsp baking powder

1 tbsp vanilla extract

4 eggs

1 ½ cup of flour

1-2 cups of Hershey’s Special Dark Chocolate Chips

 

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Lightly grease a 9×13 or 11×7 baking pan (with butter, shortening, baking cooking spray)
  3. In a sauce pan, melt your butter over low heat and then add sugarbrownies
  4. Stir very carefully and cook for about 2 minutes. (do not skip this step)
  5. Pour this mixture into the bowl for your mixer
  6. Carefully beat in your salt, cocoa powder, vanilla and eggs one at a time
  7. Mix until well combined
  8. On low, add your flour.
  9. Using a spatula fold in the chocolate morsels.brownies3
  10. Spread batter into the baking pan (the batter will be thick, this is okay!)
  11. Carefully smooth the top of your batterbrownies4
  12. Bake for up to 30 minutes; start checking for doneness around 20 minutes
  13. Cool on a baking rackbrownies4 copy

 

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Adapted from King Arthur Flour

The Most Perfect Carrot Cake Cupcakes Ever!

My baby is turning six tomorrow. I couldn’t figure out what kind of cupcakes to make him. My mama (his grandma) suggested carrot cake. I thought it would be a challenge, as I’ve never made carrot cake before, but I decided that it sounded fun enough. We took a family trip to the market and I set off to work.

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Each step of the way I was unsure of how good they would turn out. And then…..I gave them the final product. Everyone said they are the perfect carrot cake cupcake. I’m taking them at their word. You let me know you what you think. Also, wish my big boy a happy 6th birthday!

 

Ingredients:

1 cup flour

¾ cup sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon clove

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

2 cups grated carrots (14-16 oz)

⅔ cup oil

2 eggs, beaten

½ tsp vanilla extract

 

Cream cheese buttercream:

8 oz cream cheese (room temp)

8 tbsp butter (room temp)

4 cups powdered sugar

2 tsp vanilla extract

 

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl or your stand mixer, combine the flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

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In a separate bowl, combine the grated carrots and the oil. (Tip: grate your carrots in your food processor to save time).cc1cc2

Slowly add the carrot and oil mixture until just mixed.

Slowly add the beaten eggs until just mixed. Try not to over mix the batter.

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Place your liners into your muffin tin or grease your tin.

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Fill each groove to about 2/3 of the way.cc5

Bake for about 12 minutes or until the tops are golden brown and they spring back when you press them.

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Allow your cupcakes to cool.

 

While they cool, make your buttercream.

 

Whip your butter, cream cheese and vanilla together.cc8

Slowly add your powdered sugar one cup at a time (mixer on low).

Once all of the sugar is added and you’ve scraped down the sides, turn the mixer on med-high and whip for 1-2 minutes.

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Transfer the buttercream to a ziplock bag or a piping bag (or whatever you use) and ice the cupcakes.

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If you’re feeling fancy, garnish with thinly shaven carrots.

 

© 2017 by Alexa Mason. All Rights Reserved

Homemade Mini-Monkey Bread

Tis the season for coming together and eating everything that you really shouldn’t. And that includes yummy, homemade baked goods. This weekend we hosted a holiday gathering and I decided to whip up some yummy mini-monkey bread! This is not a last-minute recipe; you have to plan accordingly to allow for enough time for the dough to proof. Be mindful that you want to allow the dough to proof a minimum of eight hours.

 

Little hands really enjoy rolling out the balls so call them in to be sous chefs!

 

Ingredients

 

Dough

1 package of yeast

1/4 cup warm water

1 and 1/4 cups warm milk

1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted

1/4 cup white sugar

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon salt

5 cups all-purpose flour

 

Sauce

3/4 cup unsalted butter

1 cup white sugar

1 tbsp ground cinnamon

2/3 cup packed light brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

 

Glaze

1 Cup powdered sugar

3 tbsp milk

1/2 tsp vanilla extract


  1. In the bottom of your bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Stir and allow it to rest for a few minutes. It will be fragrant and a bit frothy.
  2. Slowly add the milk, cooled melted butter, sugar, salt, and eggs one at a time. Slowly incorporate 3 cups of flour.
  3. Using the dough hook, beat on medium for a few minutes. Slowly add remaining dough until the dough forms a firm bowl.monkeymonkey2
  4. Put the dough onto a floured surface. You want to knead until it just smooth and elastic. Be careful not to over knead the dough. The dough is ready for proofing when you poke it and it springs back to you.
  5. Turn the dough out into a greased bowl, toss to coat and cover with plastic wrap.
  6. Refrigerate the dough for at least 8 hours or overnight.monkey3monkey13
  7. Remove your dough from the fridge, punch it down carefully. Allow the dough to rest.
  8. Set up your coating station. Melt ½ c of the butter in a small bowl and in another bowl you want to combine sugar and cinnamon.
  9. Spray your muffin pan with cooking spray (alternatively, you can do this in a bundt pan, but this recipe is generally for mini monkey breads).
  10. Pull apart pieces and roll into balls about the size of a peppermint ball. You’ll want to fit 3-4 balls in the muffin wells.monkey4
  11. Dip each ball into the butter, gently shake off excess butter. Then roll in the cinnamon sugar, shake off excess. Then pop your balls into the muffin well.monkey5
  12. After filling the wells, allow the muffins to rest while you make the sauce.
  13. Preheat oven to 350F.
  14. On the stove, melt 1/4 cup of butter and whisk in the brown sugar and vanilla until it is well combined.
  15. Pour the mixture over the dough balls.monkey7monkey6
  16. Bake for about 30 minutes or until the top is golden. (Cover loosely with foil if the top browns too quickly)monkey8monkey11monkey9monkey10
  17. Allow to cool before carefully removing and placing onto a large serving plate.
  18. Optional: Whisk all of the glaze ingredients together and pour it over the bread.

Store in an air-tight container in the fridge. Will keep for a few days.

© 2016 by Alexa Mason. All Rights Reserved

Chunky Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

For the last several days I have been randomly tweeting about wanting to bake something. Last night I had a dream that I made the most decadent, three-layer cake. Clearly, baking needed to happen on this chilly Sunday. So, I recruited my sidekick, Mason.

I stood and looked in our pantry and racked my brain. I considered oatmeal cookies but I do oatmeal cookies so often, I couldn’t bare it today. We have a massive jar of chunky peanut butter and my mind started working.

Chocolate and peanut butter are a match made in heaven. These cookies are crisp to bite but chewy on the inside. The sweetness of the sugars combined with the salty crunch of the peanuts, man! These are so delicious; you have to try them.

These are low-carb and because we used coconut oil instead of butter, we added some healthy fats too. You can cut the sugar for a more modestly sweet cookie or amp up the recipe with additional nuts or dark chocolate morsels. This recipe is very simple and it can definitely serve as a building block for a more complex cookie.


Ingredients

1 heaping of cup chunky peanut butter

1/4 cup coconut oil

3/4 cup packed light brown sugar

¼ heaping cup sugar

2 eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup baking cocoa

1 teaspoon baking soda


Directions

Preheat oven to 350

In one large bowl: mix flour, salt, baking soda and cocoa.

In the bowl of a mixture: mix sugar, peanut butter and oil.

When combined, add eggs one at a time.

Slowly incorporate the cocoa-flour mixture into the peanut butter mixture.

This dough will be sticky and very thick.

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Using a small ice cream scoop or a tbsp measuring spoon, scoop out some dough and shape them into balls.

Using a fork or the palm of your hand, slightly flatten the dough mounds.

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Note: This recipe will yield roughly 2 dozen cookies. If you have more than you need, bake what you want and freeze the rest!

Leave about 1 ½ to 2” of space between your cookies.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. The cookies will be cracked and highly fragrant. The tops should be set.

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Allow them to cool on the pan for at least one minute before transferring them to a wire rack to cool.

Optional: Lightly dust with confectioner’s sugar

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© 2016 by Alexa Mason. All Rights Reserved

 

Pumpkin Cranberry Scones

Tis the season! Cranberries are available!! This makes me happy, as you can tell. I like to use cranberries as often as I can. They’re yummy and tart, but they’re also really good for you! I like to keep a bag in the freezer and one in the fridge. Next time you make a smoothie, grab a handful and add them! So good.

My son went pumpkin picking and this guy has been gracing our dining room table for weeks. I wanted to make good use of him before he began to rot since he opted out of making a jack-o-lantern. I decided to make some scones. pump

I’m pretty sure that scones were my first foray into “adult baking” (whatever the hell that means lol). They’re pretty easy and the technique remains the same no matter what you add in. I’ve done blueberry, blueberry lemon, cranberry and a few others. They keep very well and if you want, you can freeze the formed scones and just pop them in the oven at a later date!

This is my first time making these. My first time cooking with fresh pumpkin too!

 

 

Ingredients

2 cups all purpose flour

1/3 c (packed) light brown sugar

1 tsp baking powder

½ tsp baking soda

1 tsp cinnamon

¼ tsp salt

½ cup VERY cold butter

1 cup pureed pumpkin (fresh or canned)

½ VERY cold milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

½-1/3 cup fresh cranberries (or ½ cup dried)

¼ heavy cream

 

(Aside: I used fresh pumpkin for this recipe. I cut the pumpkin, lubed it up with some olive oil. I roasted the pumpkin for about 45 minutes (or until tender). I allowed the pumpkin to cool before scooping out the flesh. If you want to skip this step, feel free to use canned pumpkin.)pump2pump3

Preheat oven to 375.

 

In a food processor, pulse VERY COLD butter (cut your butter into ¼ inch tabs) and flour together until it resembles coarse meal.

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To that, add sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda and salt.

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In another bowl, combine milk, pumpkin and vanilla until smooth.

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Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture, as well as the cranberries. Mix until just combined.

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Onto a lightly floured surface knead the dough gently. It may be sticky, just make sure your surface and your hands are well-floured.

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Form the dough into a rectangle about 1 ½ inches thick. Cut the scones into your desired shape, I’m partial to triangles. (Some people like to form a circle and cut “slices”, whatever floats your boat).

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Brush the top with heavy cream, sprinkle with turbinado sugar if you want to be fancy. I sprinkled these with cinnamon-sugar.

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Bake until golden brown and they pass the toothpick test. About 20-25 minutes.

 

MAN! Look at how moist these are!!pump15

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Allow to cool before serving.

I made a quick glaze and drizzled that over the scones. You can find a simple recipe here.

Store in an airtight container in the fridge. Will keep for a few days but…who are you kidding? You’re going to eat them.

 

 

 

 

 

© 2016 by Alexa Mason. All Rights Reserved

 

 

Super Chunky Apple Spiced Muffins

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This is by far my most favorite time of year and these muffins taste like pure autumn. They are generously spiced and packed full of granny smith apples. Happy October!!

Cinnamon, Nutmeg and Clove? You literally cannot go wrong when you combine these with apples. These muffins are moist and gorgeously golden. I swear I wish I had a piping hot cup of apple cider.

Fun bonus? Your house will smell like love and hugs and cinnamon sticks.

 

 

1 large or 2 medium Granny Smith apple

Peel half of an apple

1 cup sugar

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon plus 2 pinches salt

2 tsp teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ tsp of nutmeg

light dash of ground clove

2 large eggs

1 cup milk, room temperature

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

Preheat your oven to 400 then turn down to 350

Line your cupcake tin

 

In a small bowl combine your eggs and milk, then carefully add your butter after it has cooled.

In a larger bowl, combine the flour, sugar, salt, spices, baking powder and chopped apple.muff1-copymuff2

Gently fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. The batter will be chunky and you should be able to see all of the pretty spices suspended.muff3-copy

muff4-copymuffi7Fill the liners sparing about ¼”.

Optional: Using a paring knife or kitchen shear, create thin “ribbons” of the apple skin and decoratively place the ribbons on top of the muffins.

muffi5muffi6Bake for 15-25 minutes, or until golden brown and they pass the toothpick test.

Allow to cool in pan for 3-5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack.

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Note: Extra batter can be frozen in a ziplock bag. Baked muffins can be stored in an airtight container for about 2 days at room temperature and up to 5 in the fridge, though I promise they won’t last that long.

 

 

© 2016 by Alexa Mason. All Rights Reserved

Quick & Easy Brownies with Coffee Infused Butter

I am still learning to bake quite a few things, as such, brownies have been the last boxed treat that I had to ditch. I’d long since stopped baking cakes and such from the box, but brownies remained a staple until recently. A warm piece of Duncan Hines’ brownie is really sinful. Partially because it’s from the box and *gasp* “YOU cook from THE BOX!?” and partially because, well, chocolate.

 

They serve a purpose. A middle-of-the-night, “you know what I could go for?” purpose. Then there are other times when not only do you need a hit of chocolate, but you also need the therapy that comes with following the steps of a recipe; the browning of the butter, the measuring and the stirring.

 

Today was one of those days. I needed to eat a brownie just as badly as I needed to create a brownie. This recipe has been adapted from a very basic recipe from King Arthur flour, it’s a bit less sweet and I steeped coffee in my browning butter before adding it to the mixture. (Listen….it’s an extra step but the flavor of the brownie?? NOM!)

 

Ingredients:

10 tbsp unsalted butter (1 stick +2 tbsp)

1 to 1 ¼ C white sugar

¾ C unsweetened cocoa powder

½ tsp salt

¼ tsp of baking powder

1/8 cup of ground coffee (or espresso)

2 large eggs

1 tsp of vanilla extract

2/3 C of AP flour

 

Cooking spray

Foil or parchment

 

  1. Preheat the oven to 350
  2. In a small sauce pan, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Allow the butter to cook, stirring frequently. After about 5 minutes add the coffee, again, stirring frequently. The butter will froth up but continue to stir. After about 10 minutes remove pan from the heat.brown1brown2
  3. In a medium-sized bowl, add sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Grab a small bowl and using a fine mesh strainer, pour your butter-coffee mixture. Using a spatula, gently press the coffee mixture in order to get as much of the butter out as you can. (There will be fine coffee particles, don’t worry. This is OK.)brown3brown4
  4. Pour your coffee-butter into your bowl of dry ingredients. Using a silicon spatula, or wooden spoon, stir into all of the ingredients are well-combined.brown5brownie10brown6
  5. In a larger bowl, pour your flour. Into the flour, add your cocoa mixture. Add one egg and stir until combined, then add the final egg and your vanilla extract. Beat this mixture thoroughly until it is well combined, 30-45 seconds. You should not see any flour.brown8
  6. Line your cooking dish with foil or parchment paper, grease with butter or cooking spray.brown7
  7. Add your batter and smooth the top. Using a knife or the flat side of your spatula, create some light swirls.brown9Bake for 20-25 minutes, it should pass the tooth pick test.
  8. Allow the brownies to cool in the pan.
  9. Once cooled, remove lined brownies from the pan and cut into squares.brownier15brown13
  10. Store in an airtight container.

 

© 2016 by Alexa Mason. All Rights Reserved

Spiced Honey & Banana Muffins

I love a good muffin and I’m always experimenting with different flavor profiles. Banana is a classic. In this recipe I used some of my favorite fall spices and instead of refined sugar, I opted for raw honey. This is not a super sweet muffin but if you insist, I added an alternative towards the end 😉

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Yields 12+ muffins

2 cups all purpose flour

1 tbsp baking powder

1 tsp ground cinnamon

½  tsp nutmeg

½ tsp freshly grated ginger

½ tsp salt

2-3  very ripe bananas

½ stick unsalted butter

½  cup honey (if you want a sweeter muffin go for ¾ cup)

1 egg

1 cup milk

2 tsp vanilla extract

 

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line muffin tin
  2. Whisk together flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, baking powder and salt
  3. In a separate bowl mash bananas and mix in the honey, egg and butter.muff1
  4. Add the vanilla and the milk until combined
  5. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, mix with spatula until combined
  6. Fill muffin cups until about two-thirds fullmuff3
  7. Bake until a tooth pick comes out clean, 10-12 minutesmuff4muff6

 

 

The muffins can be kept in an airtight container, leftover batter can be frozen and used at a later date.

 

For a little indulgence:

Mix ½ cup of confectioners sugar with a few tsp of milk until smooth and dip the muffin tops in!

 

 

 

© 2016 by Alexa Mason. All Rights Reserved