Sunday, October 14, 2012

Pumpkin Muffins & The Waterford Fair

Last weekend I went to the Waterford Fair in Waterford, Virginia. This quintessential colonial town turns into an artisanal crafts market for three days every year. Tents and barns filled with pottery, gourd art, jewelry, rugs, paintings, kettle corn, caramel, cookie cutters, flowers, wines, and ornaments are scattered about this picturesque setting. It recalls the beauty of a simpler time.

Just like the Waterford Fair, pumpkin muffins are perfect for a fall day. Browned butter, nutmeg, cloves, and cinnamon make these muffins taste like a slice of pumpkin pie that's socially acceptable to eat for breakfast. After a few minutes in the oven your house will smell like autumn. A wonderful way to enjoy this treat is with a healthy slathering of apple butter, but if you don't have any, no worries... these flavorful and moist muffins will satisfy the warmth needed from that first fall chill. Enjoy.

Pumpkin Muffins
adapted from Martha Stewart

yields 16 muffins 

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
1 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 cup packed light-brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs

Preheat oven to 325 F. In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Continue to cook, swirling occasionally, until butter turns golden brown. Skim foam from top, and remove from heat. Pour into a bowl to stop the cooking, leaving any burned sediment behind and let cool.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. In another bowl, whisk together the pumpkin puree, both sugars, eggs, and brown-butter mixture. Add flour mixture and whisk until just combined.

Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until cake tester inserted in center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes. Cupcakes can be stored overnight at room temperature, or frozen up to 2 months, in airtight containers.
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