Something you should know about me.  Unlike most people, I truly don’t like donuts and I don’t much care for muffins either. However, there are a few exceptions. (Aren’t there always?) I absolutely adore maple bars (really just a donut in rectangular form with maple icing) and have learned to really like a few kinds of muffins. Like this muffin for example. It has substance and flavor. It has a lovely dense yet moist consistency. In other words, it has something to offer besides airiness and idle calories. Any muffin I find myself drawn to usually contains bran or dried fruit or has some other redeeming ingredient that sets it apart from the average offering in any coffee shop display case. And truly I don’t understand why I love most cakes and dislike most muffins. They are very similar when it comes right down to the ingredients list. But I guess there is just no explaining an individual’s taste in food. And in that regard I am no different than anyone else. (Just proves what I have always said – “humans are nothing if not inconsistent!”)

So just in case there are any readers who share my eccentricity about muffins, I’m going to post a few really outstanding muffin recipes I have learned to make over the years. I’m not going to post them in any kind of sequence or series. Even though I have learned to really like them, they will simply never hit my every day or even every week “must have, absolutely crave” list. None-the-less, they are very good and in some cases, fairly nutritious too. And muffins are easy to make, keep very well, and most normal people think are just a delightful treat. And at this busy time of year, almost indispensible as a tasty sweet to serve friends and neighbors who drop by with holiday greetings.

Because I have been so frank about my general dislike of muffins, I feel compelled to say I’m sorry to any muffin lovers out there if I have in any way offended you. Also, if your meaning of life comes from jelly donuts, I offer my heartfelt apologies for casting aspersions on something so near and dear to your heart. In fact, I’m feeling so contrite I’d be willing to make it up to you. Let’s meet for a maple bar!

Muffin Ingredients:

  • 2 c. whole wheat flour
  • 1½ c. all purpose flour
  • ¾ c. granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon each cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ c. chopped toasted pecans
  • 1 (15-oz.) can pure pumpkin (or 2 cups puree)
  • ½ c. olive oil
  • ¼ c. real maple syrup
  • 3 T. milk
  • 3 eggs, room temperature

Frosting Ingredients:

  • 2 T. butter
  • 1¼ c. powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 T. maple syrup
  • 1-2 tsp. water

Muffins: Combine the flours, baking soda, baking powder, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, sugar, and nuts in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, oil, maple syrup, milk, and eggs. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients in the large mixing bowl and stir only until combined. Do not over-mix.

Lightly grease each muffin cup with cooking spray. Using an ice cream scoop, fill each muffin tin almost to the top with a scoop of batter. (If you don’t have a large ice-cream scoop, just fill using a large spoon.)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABake in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of one of the muffins comes out dry. Remove the muffins from pan and let cool before frosting. (If you have time, bake the muffins ahead and let them take a cold vacation for a few days in your freezer. Baked goods that contain fruit or vegetables are almost always more moist and flavorful after being frozen. However, if you do freeze them, don’t frost them until just before serving.

Frosting: Melt butter in a small saucepan. Add powdered sugar and vanilla. Stir in the maple syrup. Add water until desired consistency is reached. Drizzle over cooled muffins. Allow the frosting to harden and store in an airtight container.