Spiced Pumpkin Muffins

Even though this Halloween was like no other, as a family, we still managed to have a lovely fun-filled evening. Sweet treats and scary movies were obligatory, and we even managed to squeeze in a few old-fashioned party games. My mind is already meandering towards Christmas recipes, but I've one last Halloween bake to whip up. I shared the recipe for these delicious pumpkin muffins last year, or possibly the year before, in my Irish Country Living column, and I thought I must share it here, in case somebody is searching for something scrumptious to make with their Halloween pumpkins. You may even be lucky enough to have a few left growing in the garden. If so, I'd urge you to give these muffins a go.

Spiced Pumpkin Muffins

These muffins are deliciously moist, due to the addition of the pumpkin puree. They are also incredibly effortless to make, simply adding the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, making these muffins the perfect treat to make with young cooks.


125g plain flour
125g wholemeal flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground cloves
½ tsp ground nutmeg
250g light muscovado sugar
4 free-range eggs
200ml sunflower oil
250g pumpkin puree, see below
1 tsp vanilla extract

For Icing
100g cream cheese
50g butter, softened
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
300g icing sugar, sieved

To Decorate
50g pecans     

1. Preheat the oven to 190°C/fan 170°C/Gas 5.
2. Sieve the flours, baking powder, spices and sugar into a large bowl. Tip into the bowl whatever remains in the sieve from the wholemeal flour.
3. In another bowl, add the eggs and lightly beat with a hand whisk. Add the sunflower oil, pumpkin puree and vanilla extract, and combine.
4. Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl with the dry ingredients. Stir well until all the ingredients are combined together.
5. Divide the mixture between 16-18 muffin cases.
6. Bake the muffins, in the preheated oven, for 25 minutes and they are risen and golden.
7. Remove from the oven and leave to cool on a wire tray.
8. To prepare the pecans, add them to a baking tray and place them in the oven for 3-5 minutes. Transfer to a plate and once cooled finely chop.
9. While the muffins and pecans are cooling make the creamy topping by combining the cream cheese, butter, vanilla extract and icing sugar in a bowl. Beat together until smooth and creamy. Scoop into a piping bag ready for decorating the muffins.
10. When the muffins have completely cooled, pipe some of the cream cheese topping on each and add a generous sprinkling of chopped pecans.

Pumpkin Purée

Tinned pumpkin purée is hugely popular in the US, but I've found it rather difficult to source in my part of the country. There are however any amount of fresh pumpkins to buy in the shops, and turning one into a purée easily achievable in a few handy steps. A small pumpkin, approximately 2kg in weight, when roasted and pureed will provide enough puree to make at least three batches of these delicious muffins. Just be sure to use a nice fresh pumpkin. 

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/Gas 6. 
2. Cut one small pumpkin into half and then each piece into four. Using a spoon, scoop out the seeds and pulp from each piece. 
3. Place the pumpkin pieces on a large baking tray and place in the hot oven for about 40 minutes, the pumpkin will be tender and it will be slightly browned. 
4. Take from the oven and once it has cooled a little, peel away all the skin, and any bits that may have charred, and pop the pumpkin pieces in a food processor. Blend until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and allow to cool before using in the muffin recipe. 
5. The pumpkin purée will keep well for 3 days when covered in the fridge. Alternatively, it can be frozen in small batches.