Wednesday, October 14, 2009

European Chocolatey-Pumpkin Spice Muffins

By Cal Orey, The Writing Gourmet
“I would rather sit on a pumpkin, and have it all to myself, than be crowded on a velvet cushion.

Henry David Thoreau

I love pumpkin. I love pumpkin pie, pumpkin ice cream, pumpkin fudge, and pumpkin muffins. All day long I was preparing myself to bake up a batch of sweet and spicy pumpkin chocolate chip muffins with a different spin. (Ever notice everything has been done before?) And I just did it. I used orange extra virgin olive oil, European Style butter, allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg, and a mix of gourmet dark chocolate chips--a superfood that does your body, mind, and spirit good. Yes, it was worth it...

The scent in the kitchen, dining room and living room smells like fresh baked pumpkin. The taste of one of these warm concoctions with the oh-so melted chocolatey chips was so good I did what I do...into the freezer for safe keeping and not over indulging. What's more, there was enough batter to make a small pumpkin nut bread (I topped it with hazelnuts) and Mediterranean sea salt (a bit like what I enjoyed on some of the European dark chocolate caramels I tried).
Last year, in the fall after swimming, I sometimes purchased a large, pricey pumpkin muffin at Starbucks. But now that I know I can bake my own and spike them with quality chocolate, control the size and ingredients, and keep a stash in the freezer--I may never buy another prepared muffin. (Forget the packaged pumpkin muffins at the store. If you check out the nutrition labels they include way too many chemicals and preservatives, not to forget that they're not fresh like ones you whip up in the comfort of your own home.)

European Chocolatey-Pumpkin Spice Muffins
2 cups canned pumpkin
3 cups all natural whole wheat flour
1 cup European Style butter, melted
4 large brown eggs
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 cup golden brown sugar
1/4 cup white granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla
1 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, nutmeg (each)
1/2 cup gourmet dark chocolate chips, 72% cacao
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips, 60% cacao
1/2 cup hazelnuts
Mediterranean sea salt

Mix eggs, sugars, and oil. In a separate bowl, mix together flour, powder, soda, and spices. Combine all ingredients and add pumpkin and vanilla. Fold in chocolate chips. Pour mixture into muffin 12 muffin tins. Use the rest of the batter in a small bread pan. (Lightly grease with orange olive oil. Yes, it works.) Drop hazelnuts on top of bread. Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes or till a firm golden brown. Cool. Spinkle sugar on top of muffins; sea salt on top of nut bread. Serve warm.
I admit it. These cosmopolitan muffins were the second highlight of my day. The first and foremost fave time was enjoying the swimming pool/hot tub--it was all mine and the temperature was perfect. Not one tourist in sight. Not one. Utopia. But later, an imperfection hit home. My six year old pooch paid our vet a visit (again). His left ear is problematic with debris (not uncommon for sporting dogs and Brittanys) and he had to have it flushed out. Brave Simon. And now the canine sleeps next to his dog pal Seth.
So, tonight's baking time was another escape. It was easy, fun, and a treat to taste the healthy pumpkin, variety of spices, melted dark chocolates, and Mediterranean sea salt. For a minute, it was almost like whisking away to Tuscany. Sort of. Ah, to warm up one of these muffins tomorrow morning paired with a fresh cup of earthy and bold Sumatra java, and orange juice will be heaven.


  1. Warning: The bread and muffins are addicting. Do freeze one!

  2. Some folks do not like dark chocolate, prefer milk chocolate. Suggestion: Work your way up to the good stuff. It's worth it. And recipes with other ingredients, like this one, can help the transition be a smooth, chocolately one.