Long Time, No Recipe: Chocolate Pumpkin Muffins (with cream cheese filling).

chocolate pumpkin muffins

I haven’t posted much recently. Honestly, I really just haven’t had much to say. So, I decided to wait until I did have something to say, and that something was also post-worthy. And finally, that day has come. Rejoice!

I’m probably the most happy about this, as I was getting a little worried I’d never have anything to say again. But patience is a virtue, and good things do come to those who wait (and bake). Being that Fall happened, I got the itch to make something pumpkin flavored. I was tired of the same old thing I make every year, and I started trying to come up with something new. Chocolate pumpkin! That sounded new and delicious, but of course, when I did a search, I found many recipes for this very thing. So turns out, this was only new to me. But that’s ok, I still wanted to give it a whirl. I found a recipe from Country Living for  Chocolate Pumpkin Cake/Cupcakes which sounded the most like what I had in mind. I went ahead and altered the recipe slightly, and began creating that wonderful chemical reaction known as batter. And boy, what a batter it was. I briefly considered not baking it at all. But I didn’t think I could really offer cups of chocolate pumpkin batter to anyone and they be as excited about it as I was. Plus, it really would be a giant mess to transport.

hey, batter, batter, batter...sa-wing batter!

hey, batter, batter, batter…sa-wing batter!

So, I decided to bake them. But the muffins alone just weren’t enough. I still wanted more. So, I decided to add a new twist to it – I added a cream cheese filling.

a cup of heaven.

a cup of heaven.

I baked them, and they really turned out pretty fantastic. My only complaint – I used a little too much filling (although some may say that’s downright inconceivable).

an overflow of awesome.

an overflow of awesome.

Anyway, here’s my take on these. Experiment, Eat, and Enjoy!

Chocolate Pumpkin Muffins.

what you’ll need:

2 1/2 cups + 2 tbsp flour

1 cup + 2 tbsp cocoa powder

1 tbsp baking powder

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

2 1/4 tsp cinnamon

3/4 tsp nutmeg

3/4 cup milk + 1 tbsp white vinegar

1 1/2 cups pumpkin purée

1 1/2 tsp vanilla

2 1/4 sticks unsalted butter, softened

1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar (packed)

1 1/2 cups sugar

5 eggs

What you’ll do:

Preheat the oven to 375. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg. In a separate bowl, mix together the milk + vinegar, pumpkin, and vanilla. In another bowl, cream together the butter and sugars until fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time. Slowly add the dry ingredients and the wet ingredients, one-third at a time, alternating between the two, until everything is mixed into one homogeneous batter.

Line muffin tins with paper liners, and drop two tablespoons of batter into each cup (you may need to spread it around so it fills the bottom of the cup up entirely). Drop in one tablespoon of cream cheese filling*, and then cover it with an additional tablespoon of batter. bake for 20 to 22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

*Cream Cheese Filling:

In a large bowl, mix together 2, 8 oz packages of cream cheese (softened), 3.5 oz of sugar, and 2 teaspoons of vanilla until smooth.

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Meatloaf Muffins: the journey from baking to cooking.

DSC_1073

I don’t cook.

I bake, yes  –  A LOT. But I just never got into cooking. Then one day a few weeks ago, I was having a conversation with a friend about cooking, and I decided that should change. Suddenly, I wanted to cook; and I’d never had any inkling of a desire to do it before. I started looking up recipes, and noticed that the things I most wanted to try were those meals that incorporated my baking skills – homemade pasta, meatloaf, baked eggplant, etc.  As I don’t yet own a pasta maker (this will soon be remedied), that was out for now. Shortly following this cooking epiphany, I stumbled across a meatloaf recipe. I figured it was a sign, and thus meatloaf would be my next challenge. I was discussing said meatloaf with a friend, explaining to her my reasons for selecting it (in addition to the sign from the universe),  one being that it was just like baking a loaf of bread, which I’ve done a thousand times. She then suggested that since I am only one person, I should try meatloaf muffins. This way, I could save some for future meals, and share some with others, if I so desired. I loved this idea! And so it was.

I started with an onion. I cried. A lot.

96 tears.

96 tears.

I then mixed all the ingredients in a large bowl. The recipe called for pepper. I wanted rosemary. I did what I wanted.

a loaf waiting to happen.

a loaf waiting to happen.

Next, I shaped it into a loaf, and then broke it down into muffin-sized lumps.

she's lump. she's lump. she's lump. she's in my head.

she’s lump. she’s lump. she’s lump. she’s in my head.

I baked them,  took them out 5 minutes early, topped them with shredded Gruyere, and baked them for 5 more minutes.

mini meats.

mini meats.

I removed them from the oven, and let them cool. I realized at this point that I did not yet understand the principles of baking meat and how it differed from baking a cake. When you bake a cake, it conforms to the size and shape of the pan it’s being baked in. Not meat – it retains the shape you make it. So I wound up with what looked more like meat boulders.  Next time, I’ll know better.

boulders of joy.

boulders of joy.

Now for the true test. I poured myself a glass of wine, and selected two meat boulders. They certainly smelled delicious, and honestly, looked rather delectable.

red wine and meat boulders: the perfect pairing.

red wine and meat boulders: the perfect pairing.

I put some extra barbecue sauce on the side for dipping, and dug in. I couldn’t believe it – success!! This was some good meatloaf! I put down the fork and called my mom. I had to share my cooking success story with someone who I knew would be proud.

And now, my friends, I’m hooked. Small Indulgences are not just for baking anymore. Here’s to new adventures!