Nov 032010
Fall has officially fallen.  And although I’m quite dissappointed that I’ve already had to fish my gloves out of hibernation, I am very happy with some of my favorite fall produce that is suddenly available.  Pomegranate, Sweet Potato, Beets, Pears (3 for $1 at my fruit man!), and Butternut Squash to name a few.  But as much as I love fresh produce, this post salutes one of our canned friends.  Yes, I love canned pumpkin.  I act like it isn’t sitting on the shelf all year round and only appears before halloween and stays until new years.  But really, who would make pumpkin pie in July?  So, because canned pumpkin is “in season” at my super market, I knew I had to pick a ripe can and make a halloween treat.

So I made some healthy (ish) pumpkin spice muffins with a touch of cinnamon creamcheese frosting in the form of spooky decorations.  Terrifying, right?

I added some chopped dates and pecans for a little textures and depth of flavor but they can be left out if you’re a purist.  These were perfectly moist, not too sweet (but still satisfies your sweet tooth), and there’s just enough of the tart/sweet creamcheese frosting to give it the flavor without the giant dense mound of calories/fat/sugar. 

Nutritional highlights: I made these with all whole wheat pastry flour. I substituted applesauce for 1/2 of the oil and cut back on the sugar in the original recipe. Using frosting as a decoration rather than a heavy coating makes these substatially better for you than the alternative but doesn’t completely deprive us of the frosting we crave and expect. And making these as minis really gives us the portion control we need. Plus, these cupcake/muffins are not completely nutrient void. Pumpkin (even the canned kind), like most orange veggies, is a great source of vitamin A and K and is also really low in calories and high in fiber. The pecans add a little protein and healthy fat, and dates are naturally very high in fiber and have a prune like effect if you know what I mean. So as far as holiday sweet treats go, these are pretty good!

Dry Ingredients:

1 + 3/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Wet Ingredients:
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/4 cup oil (ie canola)
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce

Add these to the above micture:
1/2 cup chopped dates
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup chopped nuts (I used pecans)

Directions:  Mix dry ingredients.  Combine with a fork or whisk to try to add air to the mixture for a light muffin.  Mix wet ingredients separately and then add them to the dry and stir to combine (do not over mix).  Add the dates, nuts, and water.  Fill mini muffin tin (For me it made 36 mini muffins).  Bake at 325 degress for 15-20 minutes (just watch them closely and test with toothpick so you do not over cook..these are so nice and moist!).    

For creamcheese frosting:  I mixed 4 oz creamcheese (at room temp) with about 3 tablespoons confectioners sugar and a good sprinkle of cinnamon.  I mixed with a fork because I didn’t want to get out the hand mixer and it turned out fine.  Taste to see if it needs more sugar/cinnamon to your tastes.  Put in a ziplock sandwich bag and cut a tiny corner off and decorate as you please.  Or you could you an actual frosting bag but I don’t have such luxuries.  Enjoy!!!!

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