If I could pick one food to represent my three-and-a-half months in the US, it would undoubtedly be pumpkin. You Americans are crazy for it at this time of year! I lost count of the amount of things it cropped up in. Pumpkin pie, pumpkin lattes, pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin bread, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin pasta, pumpkin ice cream, it seems there is truly nothing it cannot be squeezed into. Then there’s Halloween and Thanksgiving, both essentially glorified pumpkin festivals.
An American friend is in London this weekend, and I cannot wait to catch up with her. It was this time last year that I was studying on the east coast, and her visit, combined with the serious onset of autumn, has brought the many fond memories of my time there to the fore once more. Although I was based in Princeton, New Jersey, it’s proximity to New York meant I made several trips there, including for a week in October when my family came to visit. In addition to several days in the City, we made the five hour journey up to the top of New York state to stay with family friends, where the scenery and vivid autumn colours that surrounded their lakeside home were just spectacular.
I decided to create my own pumpkin spiced muffins in honour of her visit, based on my carrot cake recipe.
- 400g pumpkin purée
- 2 bananas
- 250g dates, pitted
- 6 tbsps extra-virgin olive oil
- 6 tbsps milk
- 2 eggs
- 140g flour -- I used Doves Farm gluten-free plain flour; regular plain/all-purpose or spelt flour also works
- 2 tsps ground cinnamon
- 2 tsps ground allspice
- 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 400g full fat cream cheese
- 2-3 tbsps honey
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C (160 fan) and line a muffin tin with muffin cases.
- Add the dates, oil and milk to the food processor and pulse until the dates are broken down and a paste has formed. Add the eggs, pumpkin and banana and pulse again until all smooth and combined, with no lumps.
- Add the flour, spices, bicarbonate of soda and baking powder and pulse until everything is incorporated and the mixture is completely smooth.
- Pour the mixture into the cases, pushing it properly into the case and smoothing the tops, because it will bake in the exact position you put the mixture in.
- Bake for about 20 minutes, or until they are cooked through and slightly golden on top but not burnt. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
- In a bowl, mix together the cream cheese and honey. Once the muffins are completely cool, spread the mixture on top.