Pumpkin Sticky Bun Muffins

DSCN2179.JPGThese muffins are a fun twist on the usual pumpkin fare. As much as I love baking with pumpkin when fall rolls around, I get a little tired of the usual standbys–pumpkin bread and pumpkin pie, while delicious, are also everywhere. They’ve been done, many times over. These muffins are like a cross between pumpkin muffins and pecan pie. I haven’t had them before and I haven’t made them before. There’s something refreshing about that.
This recipe comes from the Belvedere Plantation. My boyfriend and I went there in November for their Fall Finale Festival, primarily for their corn maze, but it turned out they had much more to offer. Rope swings in the aptly named fun barn. A giant slide. An oversized trampoline called a jumping pillow. And recipes. I left the plantation with straw in my shoes and a free paper booklet of pumpkin recipes in my hand. What more does anyone need?

The next morning I flipped through the recipes, and I stopped when I got to this one. Normally I need visuals to get excited about a recipe, and a cute little stapled-together booklet of recipes printed on festively orange half-sheets of paper contains zero visuals, understandably. But the recipe alone did it for me this time. I saw the ingredients, read the directions, and got where they were going. Pumpkin muffins with a pecan pie-like topping? Yes. Yes. This is a thing I want to make happen. Now. Yes.

dscn2156So I set to work. Because I’m me, I did make some changes. I cut the amount of sugar in half. I doubled the spices. I increased the amount of pumpkin and decreased the amount of oil. I added a few extra ingredients to the pecan topping to make the flavors a little more reminiscent of pecan pie. I did the hokey pokey and I turned myself around.
They turned out wonderfully. The sweet and salty pecan topping really makes them, but the perfectly spiced pumpkin muffin is good on its own merits. The muffin does come out rather moist–when I make these next, I’d like to experiment by further cutting down on the oil–but not in a way that detracts. I’d have no problem making them again, exactly as they are. I just can’t resist the urge to experiment.

Nor can I resist these muffins. Or, I’ve learned, fall festivals. This is my first fall living on the east coast and I’m definitely a fan.When I moved here I really wasn’t sure what I was doing, but as the seasons change I feel more and more like I’m on the right track. Cool weather, leaves changing color, corn mazes, and new muffin recipes. I’m certainly sold.

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Pumpkin Sticky Bun Muffins

Source: Adapted from Belvedere Plantation

Makes 12 muffins

Pecan Topping

  • 1 cup pecan pieces
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp corn syrup (light or dark)
  • 2 tsp vanilla

Pumpkin Muffins

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup pumpkin
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • pinch of coarse salt (for sprinkling on the finished muffins)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Using vegetable oil spray or butter, grease a muffin tin. Combine the melted butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, and vanilla in a small bowl. Add the pecans and stir until they are evenly coated with the mixture. Spoon the pecan mixture evenly into the bottom of the greased muffin tins.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, pumpkin, vegetable oil, water, and vanilla. Add the flour, sugar, 1/2 tsp of salt, pumpkin pie space, and baking soda, and stir until just combined. Divide the mixture evenly into the muffin tins and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the muffin comes out clean. (As a warning, you may want to place a cookie sheet on the rack below your muffins. My pecan topping got a bit excited and bubbled its way up the muffin tin, spilling over to the bottom of the oven, compelling my smoke detector to join in on the fun.)

After removing the muffins from the oven, invert the muffin tin onto a cooling rack to allow the muffins to fall out, topping side-up. (They should do this pretty easily. Only one of mine needed a little coaxing.) Sprinkle the muffins with a pinch of coarse salt and enjoy.

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