Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

So here I am again. Back on the blog, because these pumpkin muffins deserve serious attention. 
These are the best pumpkin muffins I’ve ever made. These might even be the best muffins of any kind I’ve ever made. SO SOFT AND SO MOIST. So perfectly pumpkin-y, you can’t deny fall isn’t the best season ever. Then just add some chocolate chips, because chocolate makes everything better. I know I already have a Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffin recipe on this blog somewhere, but this is new and improved. 
I got really into fall spirit by re-decorating a little this weekend too. If you can even call it that. My idea of “decorating” is buying a couple of sparkly fake pumpkins and a seasonal candle from Hobby Lobby and setting them on my mantle. Good enough! 
In other news, after semi-consistent beach walks with Zoey this spring/summer, she FINALLY lovessss the beach. We took her for a long stroll yesterday, off the leash and all, and she did so well. I’m such a proud puppy-mama. She still isn’t crazy about the water, but is showing more curiosity each time and will at least walk a few inches in to splash around for a minute or two. 
…in case you cared to know. 
But, FALL! What festive seasonal treats and eats have you made so far? I get into pumpkin for a couple weeks, but then it’s time to move on (until Thanksgiving comes around when I NEED pumpkin pie). 
Spaghetti squash and chili are calling my name. I’m dying for some apple cider doughnuts too, which I’ve seen on blog after blog, instagram pic after instagram pic. I’d rather just go buy one than even attempt to make those on my own. Where can I get a good one in Charleston?! Someone please tell me. Thanks. Then go make some of these muffins. You won’t regret it. 

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins
(Adapted from Flourishing Foodie)

Makes about 18 muffins

Ingredients: 
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup coconut oil
1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree
1 cup dark chocolate chips
Powdered sugar for topping

Directions: 

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Fill muffin tin with liners and set aside.
2. In a large bowl, combine flours, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and sugars. 
3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, oil and pumpkin puree. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir to combine. Add chocolate chips and gently stir until evenly distributed.
4. Pour batter into muffin cups, about 3/4 full.
5. Bake 26-28 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the middle of a muffin comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool 10 minutes before removing from pan. Serve warm with butter.

*Store extras at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 5 days. 

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Double Chocolate Pumpkin Cupcakes

Soooo. I know I just told you the other day how I’m over pumpkin, and it’s really not all that great to begin with, yady yady yada…

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1. I may not quite be over pumpkin if it’s in the form of these cupcakes. But they hardly count, because like I also mentioned the other day you can’t hardly taste it in the cake anyway. Chocolate is the dominant flavor here. The pumpkin does add an amazing element of moistness and warmth, but overall not a standout flavor.
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2. I also neglected to mention there is one more pumpkin item I’m not over yet. Pumpkin pie!! I can easily get caught up in allllllllll of the other choices on Thanksgiving, but when it comes down to it, old trusty pumpkin pie always satisfies. As long as it has a giant dollop of whipped cream on top. I CAN’T WAIT! Two days, two days, two days, two days, two days!
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Moral of the story, I have to retract my previous statements about pumpkin just a little bit. I do in fact still enjoy it. Sorry for the confusion. 
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Oh, and one other thing. Shortly after publishing the last post, I realized I already have a baked pumpkin donut recipe – Baked Pumpkin Spice Donuts made with pumpkin Greek yogurt. My latest version are much prettier. Either that or my photography is getting better (thank goodness), but probably a combination of both. 
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These cupcakes though! Have I mentioned yet that I baked them specifically for a bake-off at work last week? Out of the four voting categories, I won two of them – “Yummiest” and “Martha Stewart Would Be Proud.” I came in second place for “Best Looking.”
Not to brag, but… 
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Maybe you should make these. They are that good. Award winning! 
I can’t take credit though, because Jenny is the genius behind the rich, sweet, melt-in-your-mouth concoction. 
This is actually another second-timer recipe for me. The reason I made these cupcakes in the first place was because of the rave reviews my family gave it when I made it in a whole cake form two years ago for Thanksgiving. It was just as good as I remembered, if not better, because what’s not better in cupcake form? As with the pumpkin donuts, these pictures give the cake much more credibility than the original post. I am also sharing the recipe below exactly how I made them, since there are differences from Jenny’s version. 
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Go make ya some!
Double Chocolate Pumpkin Cupcakes with Pumpkin Cream Cheese Frosting

(Adapted from the Picky Palate)

Makes about 28 cupcakes

Ingredients:
For the cake-
1 box chocolate cake mix
1 small box instant chocolate pudding
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup almond milk
4 large eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
15 ounce can pumpkin (save two tablespoons for the frosting)
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

For the frosting-
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
2 tablespoons of canned pumpkin
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
5 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons almond milk

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake tin with paper or silicone liners and set aside.
2. In a stand mixer, combine all cake ingredients except chocolate chips. Beat on medium speed until well blended, stopping to scrape down sides as needed. Fold in chocolate chips and stir until evenly distributed. Pour batter into pan by the 1/4 cup. Bake 18-20 minutes. Remove from heat and cool completely before frosting.
3. For the frosting, add butter, cream cheese, pumpkin and cinnamon in a stand mixer. Beat on medium-high speed until light and creamy. Slowly add powdered sugar, about a cup at a time until you reach desired thickness. Add milk and mix until completely smooth. Frost and sprinkle as desired!

*Very important to wait until cupcakes are completely cooled to frost, otherwise the frosting will melt and slide right off.

Baked Pumpkin Donuts

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Confession: I think I’m over pumpkin. I realize that may not be the best way to introduce you to these Baked Pumpkin Donuts, but it’s the truth.

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As usual, I got really excited about pumpkin at the beginning of fall. Our culture builds so much hype for the big orange squash and all of the flavor it brings to everything from baked goods to savory sides to espresso drinks. I get sucked in and dream about all of the pumpkin things I will consume. Then I take a bite or a sip of the pumpkin _______ (fill in the blank) and it hits me. Pumpkin isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
Don’t hate me :/
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And don’t get me wrong. Pumpkin is not bad, but I couldn’t eat it every day. I’ve always been a vanilla girl, but that doesn’t mean I don’t go coo-coo for cocoa puffs chocolate too. Those are flavors I go crazy about, as boring as that may be. 
I also recognize the value pumpkin brings to baked goods in order to make them super moist. I will be posting a cupcake recipe soon which uses pumpkin, but contributes more to the texture than the flavor. In that sense, I probably could eat it every day in some form or another.
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Now that I’ve vented a little about pumpkin, I have another bone to pick with you. (I don’t think I like that phrase, but what’s done is done…what’s said is said….what’s written is written). 
Issue #2 for the day: Baked donuts. Not the item itself, but the name. 
This isn’t the first baked donut recipe I’ve made, but I’m growing more and more dissatisfied with them. Again, I realize I’m not giving much credit to how tasty these really are. But calling them donuts is so misconceiving. 
Greg says they should be called “Baked Bread Circles.” He’s right. These are essentially a quick bread or muffin in a donut shape. 
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Sure, they have the shape of a donut, but they should not be mistaken for a real, true DOUGHNUT. I’m talking light, airy, yeasty, fried dough heaven. Even cake doughnuts (vs. yeast doughnuts) are on a different level than baked donuts. 
(Notice my intentional inconsistent spelling of the word. I’m using doughnut to refer to the real thing, while donut is the wanna be.) 
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Despite everything I’ve just said, I hope I’m not contradicting myself too much when I say these baked donuts are a perfect match to your hot cup of coffee on a crisp fall morning. They are slightly sweet, perfectly soft, and have the pumpkin flavor we all get worked up about. 
Just don’t expect a bakery style doughnut by any means. If you want one of those doughnuts, come with me to Krispy Kreme. 

Baked Cinnamon Pumpkin Donuts
(Adapted from Taste and Tell)

Makes 6 donuts

Ingredients:
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
Pinch of baking soda
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
1 egg
1 tablespoon milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup cinnamon for coating

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray donut pan with nonstick spray and set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda, nutmeg and cinnamon.
3. In a large bowl, combine brown sugar, pumpkin and butter. Cream together then add the egg. Mix well to combine. Add milk and vanilla extract and mix thoroughly. Add dry ingredients and stir until just combined.
4. Pour batter into a ziplock bag. Cut off one tip of the bag and squeeze into donut pan. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for a couple of minutes before removing from pan. Let cool completely. Pour 1/4 cup cinnamon into a ziplock bag. Add one donut at a time to the bad and gently shake to coat in the cinnamon.

*Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to one week. 

Pumpkin Coconut Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cups

First and foremost, Happy Birthday to my dad! Last year I sent him chocolate chip cookies, and this year I sent him a slightly different variety. I’ll be sharing those later this week though. Hope you enjoy(ed), Daddy!
Moving right along…
I know what you might be thinking. 
Pumpkin? Isn’t pumpkin for fall? 
Everyone seems to have quickly moved on from the pumpkin obsession and onto more traditional Christmas-y flavors like chocolate peppermint and gingerbread. Don’t worry though, I will get there soon enough. But I’m not quite done with pumpkin yet. 
Besides, it is technically still fall until December 21st. And I’m all about technicalities…when they’re in my favor, that is. 
I don’t know if it’s worth telling you more about my love for oats. We all know that now, right? The texture it gives these little cups is amazing. Not to mention the addition of shredded coconut. Then there’s the melty chocolate and subtle warm flavor of pumpkin. 
OMG.
And, in case you were curious, spreading pumpkin cream cheese frosting on top doesn’t hurt either. 

Pumpkin Coconut Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cups
(Adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction)

Makes 8-10 servings

Ingredients:
1 1/4 cup rolled oats
2 tablespoons whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/4 cup shredded coconut
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup almond milk
2 tablespoons syrup
1 1/2 tablespoons applesauce
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray muffin tin with non-stick spray and set aside (you will most likely only fill about 8-9 wells).
2. In a medium bowl, stir together oats, flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice and coconut.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk together vanilla, pumpkin, milk, syrup and applesauce. Add wet mixture to dry mixture and stir until just combined. Gently stir in chocolate chips.
4. Drop batter into muffin tin wells by the heaping tablespoon. Gently press down into the wells.
5. Bake for 17-20 minutes.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Frosting:
Ingredients:
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 tablespoon butter, at room temperature
1 tablespoon pumpkin
1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Directions:
In a small/medium bowl, use a hand mixer to beat cream cheese, butter and pumpkin until well incorporated. Add powdered sugar and cinnamon. Beat until well blended.

*Refrigerate any unused frosting in airtight container

Oatmeal Pumpkin Pancakes for One (Vegan)

It’s no secret that I love oatmeal. When I wanted a hot plate of pancakes for breakfast, but still wanted something relatively healthy and nutritious, I figured using oats as the base of pancakes rather than flour could be the solution to my problem.

They may not be pretty and they may not even taste like your typical pancakes. But you know what, they certainly did the trick! 
Rolled oats add so much texture and chewiness, not to mention the extra thickness they add to these pancakes. Another reason why I love oats are because of the almost incomparable “staying power” in your belly. A little bit can go a long way and keep you full for hours without making you feel so full that you’re almost sick to your stomach. 
…Like that feeling I had after downing three chocolate chip cookies in about ten minutes on Friday night. Yeah, that kind of staying power isn’t what I’m talking about. 

Happy Sunday!
Oatmeal Pumpkin Pancakes for One
Makes 2 small/medium pancakes
Ingredients:
1/3 cup rolled oats
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon flour
1 teaspoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup almond milk
2 tablespoons applesauce
1 tablespoon canned pumpkin
Directions:
1. Preheat medium skillet over medium-low heat. 
2. Meanwhile, combine oats, flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and cinnamon in a small bowl. Whisk well and set aside. 
3. In a separate bowl, add milk, applesauce and pumpkin. Whisk until well combined. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir until just combined. 
4. Pour batter by the quarter cup onto heated skillet. Cook about three minutes on each side, or until the outsides are golden brown. Remove from skillet, top with syrup and serve immediately.

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

Happy Halloweeeeeen!

I have a very festive fall treat for you today, so I hope you’re ready. Put that Halloween candy aside for just a few minutes while you indulge in a Pumpkin Cinnamon Roll. 

Being my first time baking cinnamon rolls from scratch, I quickly discovered how challenging they can be. It’s not like I didn’t know going into it. After finding this recipe weeks ago, I kept putting it off because I was a little intimidated by it. 

Sometimes you need to take on a challenge though. And when the result tastes like one of these babies, all of the time and effort is worth it. With just one bite I had already forgotten about how I had to impatiently wait for the dough to rise and how I just about quit when the rolling of the dough didn’t exactly turn out as pretty as I imagined.

I image a sweet pumpkiny roll of goodness will be the perfect way to console myself while watching horror movies tonight. As much of a scaredy-cat as I am, I love the thrill of a good Halloween movie!

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls
(Adapted from Life Made Simple)

Makes about 8 rolls

*Note the amount of each ingredient may seem odd, but that’s because I cut the original recipe in half

Ingredients:
For the dough- 
2 tablespoons warm water
1 packet active dry yeast
2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons of milk
1/2 of one large egg, lightly beaten (about 1 1/2 tablespoons of beaten egg)
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons canned pumpkin
1 1/2 teaspoons butter
1 1/2 cups + 2 tablespoons flour, divided
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon pumpkin spice

For the filling-
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/4 cup butter, softened
2 tablespoons canned pumpkin

1/2 cup cream cheese frosting (I used Pillsbury whipped cream cheese frosting)

Directions:
1. In a small bowl, combine warm water and yeast. Let sit about 10 minutes while yeast dissolves.
2. Gently stir in milk, egg, pumpkin, butter, 1 1/4 cup of the flour, sugars, and spices. Add to bowl of stand-alone mixer and beat on medium speed for about 1-2 minutes. Add the hook attachment to the mixer and blend another 2 minutes, while slowly adding the remaining flour.
3. Place dough on well-floured surface kneed 8-10 times. Let sit in a greased bowl for up to an hour. Dough should double in size.
4. While dough is rising, prepare filling by mixing the sugars, cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice.
5. When dough has risen, roll into a rectangle, about 12×6 inches, onto a well-floured surface. Spread the softened butter and canned pumpkin evenly across the top, then sprinkle with the sugar and spice mixture. Roll dough into a log, starting from the wide end. Cut into 8 equal slices and set in a well greased round cake pan (7 rolls around the perimeter and one in the middle). Cover with plastic wrap or towel and let sit another 45 minutes until rolls have almost doubled in size.
6. Bake at 375 degrees for 20-22 minutes or until rolls have become golden brown.
7. Let rolls cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan. Ice as desired and serve warm.

A Restaurant Review – Charleston’s Cafe

My mind has been a little preoccupied since Sunday when these pumpkin pancakes entered my life.

Greg and I went to Charleston’s Cafe for brunch, a change from our usual brunch spots. I had only been there once and Greg had never been there at all. I know he was skeptical and really just wanted to go with what he knew was “safe.” He was also very hungry so the crowd of people waiting outside didn’t make things better. But I assured him that was only a good sign and he wouldn’t be disappointed. 
The cafe is kind enough to provide extra chairs and free coffee for all of the people waiting outside. They definitely win even more points for that one, not like they need them. Because seriously, these pancakes were to die for. 

They were so moist, thick and dense. I couldn’t get over how good they were. I still can’t actually. The whipped cream and candy corn pieces on top made them extra adorable too. Oh, and they were drizzled with a caramel syrup. 
Total and complete perfection. 
I did my best to practice self control and managed to take home half of my plate in a to-go box. Then, several hours later, dinner had come and gone, but the pancakes were calling my name from the fridge. That’s when I had a brilliant idea. 

I smeared a little vanilla frosting directly on top of the cakes (it’s Halloween frosting, that’s why it’s orange, but I promise it’s just plain old vanilla). I didn’t even heat them up, I just ate them chilled. If I wasn’t in love with these pancakes at brunch, I sure as heck was in love now.

If you’re in the Charleston area this fall, get yourself to Charleston’s Cafe for these pancakes. For that matter, I’m sure their other pancakes are great too in case you don’t make it during pumpkin season.

And by the way, Greg had the Biscuits and Gravy with a side of bacon. After dousing in blood red hot sauce, his dish wasn’t especially photogenic. Let’s just say after being skeptical to begin with, he walked a way a very happy man.

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