It was only a matter of time before I got swept into the pumpkin spice madness of the season. Today, I am sharing a pumpkin muffin that would be a respectable addition to any holiday brunch or breakfast table.
I have to confess that it took me a very long time to fully appreciate pumpkin puree and pumpkin-flavored treats. To be fair, up until a few years ago, my only associations with pumpkin were: a) the completely unnecessary Starbucks infusion of dairy, sugar, and artificial flavors known as the Pumpkin Spice Latte; and b) the trays of sugary, cracked pumpkin pies that regularly appeared at my local grocery stores around November 1 every year.
But with age comes, I don't know, wisdom or at least something approximating wisdom. Having been exposed to some delicious pumpkin treats recently, I am now devoted to the sweet gourd. I do think that pumpkin benefits from a little chocolate (as do all things) so I often pair the two together.
And, so, this muffin -- the happy marriage of pumpkin, spices, walnuts, dark chocolate, and citrus makes for a perfect fall pastry. The walnuts lend a crunch, the chocolate chunks melt into rich, bittersweet ribbons throughout the batter, the spices are warm but not overwhelming, and it's all perfectly balanced with bright citrus notes. (The orange comes through nicely -- please don't leave it out).
Do not let the long ingredient list put you off -- you probably have most of the ingredients at home and once you gather the various components, it moves fairly quickly. Also, you can substitute the individual spices with a few teaspoons of your favorite pumpkin pie spice mix.
As for texture, this will not yield a very crunchy muffin top, unfortunately. The crumb is soft and incredibly moist. I have a strong aversion to dry or overdone baked goods so I err on the side of underbaking everything. If you prefer a drier or more "done" pastry, simply extend the baking time by a few minutes.
Gluten-Free Pumpkin Chocolate Buckwheat Muffins
Adapted from Gluten-Free Apple Banana Nut Muffins
1 1/4 cup almond flour
1/4 cup buckwheat flour (not buckwheat groats)
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup canned pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie mix/filling)
1/2 cup organic maple syrup
1/8 cup unrefined coconut oil
1 orange (juice and zest)
1 tbsp raw apple cider vinegar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp ground allspice
pinch of ground clove
pinch of ground white pepper
1 cup raw walnuts, chopped
1/2 cup dark chocolate chunks
1 tbsp chia seeds
a pinch of sea salt
Preheat the oven to 350 F and line a standard-sized muffin pan with paper liners.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the almond flour, buckwheat flour, baking soda, and a pinch of salt. (Whisking means you don't have to sift the flours!).
In a separate bowl, combine the liquid ingredients: canned pumpkin, coconut oil, maple syrup, three beaten eggs, the juice and zest of an orange, vanilla, and apple cider vinegar. Add cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, a pinch of ground clove, and a pinch of ground white pepper. (If you're using whole peppercorns, two to three grinds of the pepper mill should do it.).
Slowly incorporate the dry ingredients into the liquid batter, taking care not to overmix.
Stir in the walnuts, chocolate chunks, and 1 tablespoon of chia seeds. Allow the batter to rest at room temperature for about 10 minutes or so.
Spoon the mixture evenly into the lined muffin pan, filling each liner to the top (they will not rise much).
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until golden brown.
The muffins will stay fresh wrapped in plastic on the counter for a few days. For long-term storage, wrap the muffins individually and store in the freezer for up to 1 month.
Notes: Both the almond flour and the buckwheat flour should be stored in the fridge or freezer. Instead of the individual spices, you can substitute 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons of your favorite pumpkin pie spice mix. For a less sweet muffin, decrease the chocolate chunks to 1/3 cup. It's a fairly soft, wet batter but if it seems too wet, add in some more almond flour. Conversely, if the batter seems too dry, add in a little bit of almond milk. Extend the baking time for a drier, crunchier muffin.