Pumpkin Showdown: Pumpkin Pecan Craisin Muffins

We are obsessed with pumpkin so much over here at Chow Bella that we thought it was time to take all the smack talk to task with a pumpkin showdown. All the blog contributors gathered 'round the table with their best pumpkin recipes to see whose dish gets the Great Pumpkin award. Today's contender? Hannah Williams' morning muffins. Stay tuned each day through next week for more dishes in the showdown.

Nothing says autumn like pumpkins, pecan pie, and cranberries... so we threw them all together. If one's good, three's better, right?! We adapted a downeast Maine pumpkin bread recipe to make grab-and-go Pumpking Pecan Craisin Muffins to start each day of fall right (unless you gobble them all down in one sitting...).

(Click through for the recipe and our recommendations.)

Pumpkin Pecan Craisin Muffins

1 cup Whole Wheat Flour
1 cup All-Purpose Flour
2 tsp Baking Powder
½ tsp Baking Soda
1 Tbsp Pumpkin pie spice (Yes, we took the easy way out.)
Dash Cinnamon (Because it always needs more.)
Dash Ginger (Because we like it.)
¾ tsp Salt (So they rise nice and fluffy.)
1 can (15-16 oz.) Pumpkin Puree (Not pumpkin pie filling.)
½ cup Butter, melted
¼ cup Half-and-Half (We used fat-free, because it was in our fridge.)
¾ cup Brown Sugar, packed
2 large Eggs, beaten
1 tsp Vanilla
1-¼ cup Chopped Pecans
¾ cup Craisins (Or other dried cranberries.)

- In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine flours, baking powder, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, ginger, and salt. Stir dry ingredients together.
- In a separate, large mixing bowl, combine pumpkin, melted butter, half-and-half, sugar beaten eggs, and vanilla. Mix together until smooth and even.
- Stir dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture in intervals, mixing until evenly incorporated.
- Fold in one cup of the chopped pecans, reserving ¼ cup for topping, and all the dried cranberries.
- Either line your muffin tins with muffin cups or spray with a baking spray (i.e. Pam with flour already in it), which is the easy alternative to greasing and flouring each little muffin spot. Note: This recipe makes about 12 to 16 muffins.
- Fill each about ¾ full with batter. We use a levered ice cream scoop to deliver an even amount to each cup without getting batter all over the muffin tin and our fingers.
- Sprinkle the tops with raw sugar and the pecan pieces you set aside earlier.
- Bake at 375˚F for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Hint: Err on the longer side if you don't have a convection oven... Nothing's worse than an underdone muffin.

What we'd do differently next time: - Add more spices, especially cinnamon. Even though we upped the amount of spices from the original recipe, these came out a little less flavorful than we'd hoped. - Use a convection oven, if possible. It took a while for our muffins to cook through in our old-fashioned oven, which meant the pecans on top got a little toasty. - Serve warm with cinnamon honey butter. At room temperature, these are yummy. Warm with cinnamon honey butter, they're freaking delicious.

Check out yesterday's chocolate chip pumpkin cake and check back next week for the rest of our competition and the pumpkin showdown winner.

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Hannah E Williams