Pumpkin Muffins with Cinnamon-Sugar Topping

I do have a favorite pumpkin loaf but I can’t resist trying another recipe- especially if it involves cinnamon-sugar. 🙂 This one incorporated lovely spices as well.

This recipe was adapted from Smitten Kitchen.com. I increased the amount of cinnamon-sugar topping and baked the batter as muffins rather than a loaf. I love the portion control of a muffin.

Makes: 18 standard muffins or 1 large 9×5-inch loaf

For the Batter:

  • 1 15-ounce can (1 3/4 cups) pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) vegetable or another neutral cooking oil or melted butter (115 grams)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 2/3 (330 grams) cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine sea or table salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • heaped 1/4 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
  • heaped 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • two pinches of ground cloves
  • 2 1/4 cups (295 grams) all-purpose flour

For the Cinnamon-Sugar Topping:

  • 2 tablespoons (24 grams) granulated sugar (use 1 T for a loaf)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon (use 1 tsp for a loaf)
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F, preferably on convection.
  2. Butter 18 muffins wells or a 6-cup loaf pan or coat it with nonstick spray. (I used 8 outer wells in one pan and 10 in another.)
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together pumpkin, butter or oil, eggs and sugar until smooth.
  4. Sprinkle baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinanmon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves over batter and whisk until well-combined.
  5. Add flour and stir with a spoon or rubber spatula, just until mixed.
  6. Using a 3 tablespoon scoop, ration the batter into prepared muffin wells, or scrape into a loaf pan, and smooth the top(s).
  7. In a small dish, whisk or stir sugar and cinnamon together. Sprinkle over top of batter. (I sprinkled 1/2 teaspoon over each muffin top.)
  8. Bake muffins for 15 to 17 minutes, and a loaf for 55 to 75 minutes, or until a tester poked into all parts of cake (both the top and center will want to hide pockets of uncooked batter) come out batter-free, rotating the pans once during the baking time for even coloring. (I rotated the oven racks between the two muffin pans as well.
  9. Cool in the pan(s) for 10 minutes and then remove, or cool completely in the pan(s). The latter provides the advantage of letting more of the loose cinnamon sugar on top adhere before being knocked off. 

Note: The muffins (or loaf) keep well at room temperature. The original recipe recommends covering the cut edge of the loaf with a piece of foil or plastic and leaving the top exposed to best keep the lid crisp as long as possible.

Caramel Apple Skillet Cake with Browned Butter Glaze

I have made this sweet treat on a couple of occasions. I love skillet desserts! This one is perfect for fall or even in the winter. It has an amazing texture.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Erin Jeanne McDowell. I used a browned butter glaze from our favorite apple pie bars instead of the salted caramel frosting suggested in the original recipe. I also modified the method. Yum.

Yield: One 10-inch round cake, about 10 to 12 servings

For the Caramel Apples:

  • 4 tablespoons/55 grams unsalted butter
  • 2 large baking apples (about 12 to 16 ounces/340 to 454 grams), such as Honeycrisp, Gala, Granny Smith or Braeburn, peeled, cored and diced into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup/110 grams dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

For the Cake:

  • 1/2 cup/115 grams unsalted butter (1 stick), at room temperature
  • 1 1/3 cup/290 grams dark brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 2/3 cup/215 grams all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

For the Browned Butter Glaze:

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • milk or heavy cream, as necessary, to achieve desired consistency
  • pinch of coarse salt or fine sea salt
  1. Make the Caramel Apples: In a 10-inch cast iron skillet, melt the butter over medium heat.
  2. Add the apples, brown sugar and salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves and the apples soften slightly, 4 to 5 minutes. Set aside and let cool to room temperature.
  3. Heat the oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection.
  4. Make the Cake: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy, 4 to 5 minutes.
  5. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, and mix to combine.
  6. Scrape the bowl well, then beat in the vanilla.
  7. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg to combine.
  8. Add the flour mixture to the mixer and mix just until incorporated. Scrape the bowl well.
  9. With a rubber spatula, gently fold the apple mixture (including all of the caramel-like liquid in the pan) into the batter. Mix just until incorporated.
  10. Pour the batter into the prepared skillet and spread into an even layer. Bake until the surface is evenly golden brown and appears set – a toothpick inserted into the center should have a few moist crumbs clinging to it, 30 to 40 minutes. Let cool completely. (I baked it on convection for 30 minutes but may add a couple of minutes onto the baking time next time.)
  11. Make the Glaze: In a small pot or pan, melt the butter. Continue to cook until browned and fragrant.
  12. In a small bowl, whisk together browned butter, powdered sugar, a splash of milk, and a pinch of salt. Whisk until smooth. Add milk as needed until drizzling consistency is achieved.
  13. Spoon into a ziplock bag and cut a tiny tip off one corner of the bag.
  14. Drizzle glaze over cooled cake before slicing.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cupcakes

The other day, my husband suggested making cupcakes topped with cookies in some way. I found this recipe the next day! I love the idea and now hope to try other variations.

My daughter and her sidekick (bestie) were baking together over the summer and spent an afternoon on this deliciousness. Everyone was quite pleased with the results. The cupcakes were very moist and tender and the cookies on top were crispy and delicate. Perfect.

The recipe is from Martha Stewart Living; we modified the proportions and method. Next time, I may reduce the size of the cookie on top and chill the cookie dough prior to baking.

Yield: 18 cupcakes

For the Chocolate Chip Cookie Base & Cookie Topping:

  • 1 cup plus 2 T all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp plus 1/8 tsp coarse salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup light-brown sugar, packed
  • 6 T granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (6 oz) semisweet chocolate chips

To Make the Chocolate Chip Cookie Base:

  1. Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt into a bowl.
  2. Beat butter and sugars with a mixer on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  3. On low-speed, beat in the egg.
  4. Add flour mixture in 3 additions.
  5. Beat in vanilla.
  6. Mix in chocolate chips.
  7. Chill dough while preparing the cupcake batter.

For the Cupcakes:

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup cake flour
  • 1/2 T baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp coarse salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 T granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 T whole milk
  • Chocolate Chip Cookie Base (see above), including 18 (1.5-inch) cookies
  • Simple Vanilla Frosting (see below)

To Make the Cupcake Batter:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection. Line 18 muffin tin wells with baking cups.
  2. Whisk together flours, baking powder, and salt.
  3. Beat butter and sugar with a mixer on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low.
  4. Add eggs, 1 at a time, then vanilla.
  5. Beat in flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with milk, beginning and ending with flour.

To Layer & Bake the Cupcakes:

  1. Press 1 tablespoon cookie dough into bottom of each baking cup. (At this point, I used a small cookie scoop (1/2 T) to ration the remaining cookie dough and put it back in the refrigerator.)
  2. Top each with 1.5 to 2 tablespoons batter. (I used a cookie scoop.)
  3. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the centers comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes. (Keep oven on to bake the cookies for the topping.)
  4. Transfer tins to wire racks; let stand for 5 minutes. Transfer cupcakes to racks. Let cool completely.
  5. While the cupcakes cool, prepare the frosting and bake the cookies for the topping.

For the Simple Vanilla Frosting:

  • 2 sticks plus 2 T unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3 cups plus 6 T confectioners’ sugar, divided
  • pinch coarse salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 T whole milk

To Make The Frosting:

  1. Beat butter and 3/4 cups confectioners’ sugar with a mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.
  2. Reduce speed to medium-low; gradually add the additional 2 1/2 cups plus 2 T confectioners’ sugar.
  3. Add milk and vanilla; mix to incorporate.
  4. Raise speed to medium-high and continue to beat until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes.

To Finish & Decorate:

  1. Place the chilled scoops of cookie dough on 2 parchment paper-lined rimmed baking sheets.
  2. Bake in the pre-heated oven until edges are dark gold but centers are pale gold and look a bit underdone (for chewy) or until centers are set (for crisp). (We baked ours for about 7 minutes.)
  3. Transfer baking sheets to wire racks to cool for 5 minutes; then transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.
  4. Transfer frosting to a pastry bag fitted with a star tip, or as desired.
  5. Pipe frosting onto cupcakes, and top each with a cookie.

Shortbread Jammers

Over the summer, I brought these fabulous cookies to the beach when we went to enjoy the sunset. They transported very well and everyone loved them. 🙂 Any type of thick fruit jam or marmalade can be spread over the top of the cookie base. By using raspberry jam, I thought that they could be renamed “Easy Linzer Cookies.”

The recipe was adapted from The King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion via The New York Times, contributed by Vanessa Vichit-Vadakan. I baked the cookies in a 9×13-inch pan, per the original recipe; The NYT recently modified the recipe to bake in an 8×8-inch pan. I thought that they were perfect as is, but may “have to” try the thicker version to compare. 😉

Rice flour is suggested to make the cookies more tender. I used all-purpose flour instead and was pleased with the results.

Yield: 24 cookies (9×13-inch pan) or 16 cookies (8×8-inch pan)

  • 1/2 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup rice flour (all-purpose flour may be substituted)
  • 1 cup thick fruit jam, preserves or marmalade (I used raspberry preserves)
  1. Heat oven to 325 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Lightly butter a 9×13-inch or 8×8-inch baking dish. Line with parchment and butter the parchment. (I used a lined, metal 9×13-inch baking pan.)
  3. In the bowl of a standing mixer (or in a large bowl if using a hand mixer), beat the butter and sugar at medium speed for about 3 minutes.
  4. Add the salt and vanilla and continue to beat until well combined.
  5. Add the flours and continue to beat until the dough comes together.
  6. Press the dough evenly into the prepared pan, smoothing the surface. Prick it with a fork in about 20 places.
  7. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through cooking, or until golden around the edges. Slide a dull knife along the edges. Cool for 5 minutes. (an 8×8-inch pan may require a longer baking time)
  8. Using the parchment, lift the slab of shortbread out onto a clean surface.
  9. With a knife, trim 1 inch from one of the sides. Crumble the trimmings into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap.
  10. Cut the rest of the shortbread into 24 squares (9×13-inch pan) or 16 squares (8×8-inch pan) and allow to cool.
  11. Spread a thick layer of jam on each square. (I kept the cut cookies together and spread the jam over the top of the entire surface.)
  12. Sprinkle the reserved crumbs over the top.

Note: Layered between plastic wrap or wax paper in an airtight container, the cookies will keep for 3 to 4 days.

Apple Cider Doughnut Loaf

I am going to take a break from my quick weeknight dinner posts (I have several more) to post a few sweet treats. Back to school treats are very important in our house. 🙂

This cake can be served for dessert or as a very special snack or breakfast. We ate it for breakfast. I recommend eating it as soon as possible 😉 , but, it should keep fresh for several days in an airtight container at room temperature. I made it in a standard loaf pan this time, but I plan to make it in my fluted loaf pan on the next occasion.

The recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Sarah Jampel. I weighed the dry ingredients and reduced the baking time. Just as yummy as a farmstand apple cider doughnut!

Yield: One 9-inch loaf

For the Cake:

  • 8 T (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for pan
  • 1 1/2 cups apple cider
  • 1/2 cup sour cream or buttermilk
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups plus 2 T (172 g) all-purpose flour (can substitute 63 g with whole wheat flour)
  • 2 T (15 g) cornstarch
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp Diamond Crystal or 1/2 tsp Morton kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (150 g) granulated sugar

For the Topping:

  • big pinch of kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup (50 g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 T unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 T reserved reduced apple cider (from above)
  1. Place a rack in middle of oven; preheat to 325°, preferably on convection.
  2. Lightly butter an 8½ x 4½” or 9×5″ loaf pan. Line with parchment paper, leaving overhang on both long sides. Lightly butter the parchment. (I used cooking oil spray and a metal loaf pan.)
  3. Bring cider to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and simmer until cider is reduced to ¾ cup, 8–10 minutes.
  4. Pour ¼ cup reduced cider into a small measuring glass or bowl and set aside.
  5. Transfer remaining reduced cider to a small bowl or glass measuring cup and let cool 5 minutes. Stir in sour cream and vanilla and set aside.
  6. Melt 8 tablespoons of butter in same saucepan (no need to clean) over low heat. Let cool slightly.
  7. Whisk flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, salt, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, and 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg in a medium bowl to combine.
  8. Vigorously whisk eggs and 3/4 cup (150 g) sugar in a large bowl until pale, voluminous, and frothy, about 2 minutes. (I used a stand mixer with the paddle attachment.)
  9. Whisking constantly (with the mixer on low-speed), gradually add melted butter in a steady stream; continue to whisk until fully combined and emulsified (no spots of fat should remain). Reserve saucepan (no need to clean).
  10. Whisk dry ingredients into egg mixture in 3 additions, alternating with reserved sour cream mixture in 2 additions; whisk just until no lumps remain. Batter will be thin.
  11. Scrape into pan and set on a rimmed baking sheet.
  12. Bake cake, rotating halfway through, until deep golden brown and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 50–80 minutes. (I baked mine for 55 minutes.)
  13. Transfer pan to a wire rack and poke top of cake all over with a toothpick.
  14. Spoon 3 tablespoons of the reserved reduced cider over; let cool 10 minutes.
  15. Meanwhile, make the topping: Mix a big pinch of salt, remaining 1/4 cup (50 g) sugar, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, and 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg in a small bowl. Melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter in reserved saucepan and mix into remaining 1 tablespoon reduced cider.
  16. Using parchment paper, lift cake onto rack and set rack inside rimmed baking sheet. Peel away parchment from sides.
  17. Brush warm butter-cider mixture over top and sides of cake.
  18. Sprinkle generously with sugar mixture to coat every surface (use parchment to help rotate cake and collect any excess sugar).
  19. Remove parchment and let cool completely before slicing.

Do ahead: Cake can be made 4 days ahead. Store tightly wrapped or in an airtight container at room temperature.

Creamy Corn Ice Cream with Caramel

Caramel corn ice cream? Yes! Sweet summer corn is puréed, strained, and cooked down into a sweet pudding before it is incorporated into the ice cream base. The caramel drizzle was an essential finishing touch.

This recipe was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Jesse Houston. The original recipe was “no churn” but I did churn it to expedite the freezing process.

After using a Vitamix to purée the corn and significantly increasing the cooking time, I had double the volume of corn pudding required for the ice cream. I’m planning to use it for another batch. 🙂 I may layer it with caramel or dulce de leche prior to freezing next time so that it will have a caramel swirl.

Yield: about 8 cups (2 quarts)

Chez Panisse’s Blueberry Cobbler

Yes! I have another summer fruit dessert to share.

I could not wait to make this cobbler as soon as I saw the recipe. 🙂 It was described as “prizing berries above all, using only 1/3 cup of sugar.” The berries cooked into jammy and creamy deliciousness.

This recipe was adapted from Chez Panisse via The New York Times, contributed by Molly O’Neill. I used a biscuit cutter for the topping and modified the baking method. I may consider adding some lemon zest to the berries next time. Yum.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

For the Berries:

  • 4 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

For The Dough:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream, plus additional for serving, if desired
  • vanilla ice cream, for serving, if desired
  1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. To prepare the berries, place in a bowl and toss with the sugar and flour. Set aside.
  3. To make the dough, mix the flour, salt, sugar and baking powder in a bowl.
  4. Using a pastry blender, cut in the butter until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the cream and mix lightly, just until the dry ingredients are moistened.
  5. Put the blueberries in a 1 1/2-quart gratin or baking dish.
  6. On a lightly floured piece of parchment paper, pat the dough out to 1/2-inch thick. Using a biscuit cutter 2 inches in diameter, cut the dough into rounds. Reform scraps and repeat. (I cut the dough into 12 rounds.)
  7. Arrange dough over the top of the berries, leaving space in between for the berries to bubble through.
  8. Place the baking dish on a rimmed baking sheet, and bake in the preheated oven until the topping is brown and the juices bubble thickly around it, about 35 to 40 minutes. (I tented the cobbler with foil after 30 minutes and then baked it for an additional 5 minutes, or until bubbling in the center.)
  9. Let cool slightly. Serve warm, with cream to pour on top or with ice cream on the side, as desired.

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