Warmly Spiced Caramel Apple Muffins

Caramel Apple Muffins2

Autumn and apples are two of my most favorite things so I decided to combine the flavors of fall with some of the fresh, crisp apples I picked at the orchard and my delicious Warmly Spiced Caramel Apple Muffins were born! I came across the original muffin recipe which was for Peach Muffins in the “The King Arthur Flour Bakers Companion” but I made some tweaks to the recipe to create my own autumn version of this summer treat! Be sure to use a nice, crisp baking apple in the recipe to keep the apple bits from getting mushy and turning into applesauce when baking. A few excellent options are Honeycrisp, Granny Smith, Braeburn and Winesap.

The batter will be very thick so I recommend using a cookie scoop to fill the greased or paper muffin cups, it makes the job much easier and far less messy. When pressing the caramel bits into the muffin tops I advise that you keep them close to the center of the muffin as caramel tends to melt and ooze in the oven. Placing them in the center will keep more caramel on the muffin and less on the pan. Lastly, I added a generous sprinkle of turbinado sugar to the top of each muffin for that little extra crunch and shimmer.

These muffins are very soft and fluffy with just the right amount of warmly spiced flavor. There are notes of allspice, cinnamon and apple pie spice all of which give a nice balance to the sweetness of the fruit. The little bits of caramel throughout add a nice chew, especially on the top of the muffin. These are the perfect breakfast treat on a cool, fall morning. Enjoy!

**MAKES 24 MUFFINS**

Ingredients

  • 4 1/2 cups (19 ounces) unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 4 1/2 tsp (3/4 ounce) baking powder
  • 2 cups (16 ounces) dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/2 tsp apple pie spice
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup (5 1/4 ounces) vegetable oil
  • 1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) milk
  • 3 medium sized baking apples, peeled and diced
  • 1/4 cup Kraft® Premium Caramel Bits, plus more for muffin tops 
  • Turbinado sugar, for tops of muffin (optional)

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Combine the flour, salt, baking powder, brown sugar, allspice, apple pie spice and cinnamon in a large bowl. Whisk together until everything is evenly distributed and there are no lumps. Set aside.

In another bowl or large measuring cup, whisk together the eggs, vegetable oil and milk. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until combined. Gently fold in the fruit and caramel bits.

Fill greased or paper muffin cups almost to the top. Press in a few caramel bits on the top and then sprinkle generously with turbinado sugar. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool for 5 minutes in the pan. Remove muffins from the pan and allow them to cool completely on a wire rack.

**NOTE – These muffins freeze beautifully. Simply cool them completely, wrap each muffin individually in plastic wrap and place in a tightly sealed plastic container.**

Autumn Spice Oatmeal Cookies

Pumpkin Spice Cookies

Squeal!!! Sally McKenny has a brand new cookbook, Sally’s Cookie Addiction: Irresistible Cookies, Cookie Bars, Shortbread, and More, and to my delight, there was an outstanding recipe for Autumn Spice Oatmeal Cookies. (page 42) There isn’t one word in that title that doesn’t make me happy. Let me repeat: AUTUMN SPICE OATMEAL COOKIES!! What’s better than fall spices, oatmeal, and cookies??!! I’ll tell you, not much!

Due to my high blood sugars, I’ve been hesitant to bake much lately but I really couldn’t resist these cookies so I decided to go ahead and make them. I thought it was good opportunity to try and turn them into a treat that was a touch healthier and lower in sugar so that I could enjoy them too. I followed the recipe as written making only a few substitutions with regards to the ingredients. First, I substituted the granulated sugar with Truvia Baking Blend Natural Sweetener in order to cut down on the calories. Be aware that Truvia® does NOT measure one-to-one with granulated sugar so it’s imperative that you adhere to the conversion chart that is printed on the side of the bag.

I also cut down the molasses from 1 tbs to only 1/2 tbs, I felt that using a little less would still impart the molasses flavor while lessening the overall calorie and sugar count. Instead of sweetened coconut I used unsweetened as it allowed the texture of the cookie to remain the same without adding the extra sugar. In place of ordinary dried cranberries I used  Ocean Spray Reduced Sugar Craisins Dried Cranberries  which again saved on calories and sugar. Lastly, I eliminated the pepitas that were called for (simply because I do not like them) and instead, I added half of a finely diced Granny Smith apple to the cookie dough. I adore apples and I thought it would be a perfect addition to these fall inspired cookies.

The cookies were fabulous and were everything you want a fall cookie to taste like. They were chewy, delicious, and bursting with flavor. The best part was that the substitutions I made resulted in an excellent cookie and I certainly did not miss anything by reducing the sugars where I was able to. Of course, these still need to be enjoyed in moderation but it’s nice to know that when a sweet craving hits, I have something on hand that I can eat with minimal guilt.

**I listed to ORIGINAL recipe below noting my substitutions in the parenthesis.**

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar (OR 1/8 cup Truvia Baking Blend)
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tbs unsulphured or dark molases (OR 1/2 tbs)
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 cup dark or semisweet chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup shredded sweetened coconut (OR shredded unsweetened coconut)
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries (OR Craisins Reduced Sugar Dried Cranberries)
  • 1/2 cup pepitas
  • 1/2 Granny Smith apple, finely diced (optional)

Instructions

Whisk the flour, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, and salt together in a medium bowl. Set aside.

In a large bowl, using a handheld mixer or a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium-high speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Add the brown sugar and granulated sugar and beat on medium-high until creamed, about 2 minutes. Add in the eggs, molasses, and vanilla. Beat on high speed until combined, scrape down the sides as needed.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix on low speed until combined. With the mixer on low, beat in the oats. Once combined, fold in the chocolate chips, coconut, cranberries, and pepitas or apples if using them. The dough will be thick and sticky. Cover and chill the dough in the fridge for at least 45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Set aside.

Scoop balls of dough, about 2 tbs each, onto the baking sheets, spacing them about 2″ apart. Bake for 12-14 minutes or until lightly browned on the sides. The centers will still look a little soft.

Remove from the oven and allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

**Tip – The cookies will stay fresh for up to a week when stored in an airtight container**

 

 

Pumpkin Spice Dough

Pumpkin Dough 3.jpgAs the summer begins to wind down my kids are starting to tire of the heat, sun, and outdoors and that’s when the boredom sets in. To counteract the constant whining from them that the having nothing to do I decided to whip them up a batch of Pumpkin Spice Dough to play with. It’s made with common kitchen ingredients and smells delish! They love it because it’s a change from their usual Play-Doh and because it’s a little softer, it’s easier for them to work with.

I came across this recipes a few years ago on the The Idea Room blog site, you can find the original Pumpkin Spice dough recipe here . It is super easy to make and the nice thing is you can change up the overall scent and color with a few adjustments. Another great fall smell to try is apple pie spice and for Christmas, make a batch of peppermint dough! The possibilities are endless. Because it’s such a simple recipe to pull together it is a great activity to do with your kids, they will love watching the dough change from a liquid to a nice, soft, pliable dough.

All you need to make this dough is as follows:

  • 2 cups of water
  • Orange food coloring (or combine yellow and red)
  • 2 tbs vegetable oil
  • 1 cup table salt
  • 4 tsp cream of tartar
  • 3 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 cups of all-purpose flour

Place all of the ingredients in a pot over medium heat and cook until the liquid mixture turns into a soft dough, this will take just a few minutes.

Pumpkin Dough 1

Pumpkin Dough 2.jpg

Once the dough is finished, place it on the counter and knead it a few times. Be careful, the dough will be very hot. If your kids want to play with it right away, flatten it out on a flexible cutting board or pan and place it in the fridge for about 3 minutes then flip it and cool for another 3 minutes. Give it a quick knead when you remove it from the fridge and you’re good to go! Store the dough in an airtight container for later use. Have fun!

Apple Pumpkin Walnut Muffins with Oatmeal Streusel Topping

applemuffin2

It might be June here in NY however, my mind is always on the Fall. Crisp days, cool breezes, and apple everything are what it’s all about for me! After the little heatwave we were having here I was longing for something to remind me that in just a few months, cooler temps will prevail. I adapted this delicious muffin recipe from “The Apple Lover’s Cookbook” by Amy Traverso. It’s a GREAT cookbook filled with all things apple. If you’re an apple fanatic like me you will love it! You can grab a copy of this cookbook right on Amazon using the link below.

 The Apple Lover’s Cookbook

I only made a few slight adjustments to this recipe and I think it resulted in a really perfect, flavorful, moist muffin that smelled and tasted exactly like Fall. What’s better than that? The original recipe called for 3/4 cup of chopped walnuts but since I’m not a huge nut fan, I decided to chop them a little finer and use only 1/2 cup. I think it was the perfect amount, 3/4 cup in my opinion would’ve been a little too much, at least for me. I also decided to add an Oatmeal Streusel Topping to develop another layer of flavor and texture and this might just be one of the best parts of this muffin! The streusel was really delicious, I highly recommend not skipping this step if you decide to make these. This recipe was for a yield of 15 average size muffins however, I decided to make jumbo “bakery style” muffins instead so I used my 6 cup jumbo muffin man and increased the cooking time by about 8 minutes.

The nice thing about this muffin recipe is that you can make it the night before and all that’s left to do in the morning is combine the wet and dry ingredients, add the streusel topping, and bake. Within a half hour you will have fresh warm muffins to enjoy with your morning coffee.

Ingredients

For the muffins

  • 1 2/3 (242 g) cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (105 g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (115 g) dark brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 cup (240 ml) canned pure pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) vegetable oil
  • 1 large firm, sweet apple (I used a Granny Smith), peeled, cored, and chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

For the streusel

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 6 tbs oatmeal
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 6 tbs all purpose flour

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line muffin cups with paper liners or spray with nonstick cooking spray. In a large bowl whisk together the flour, cinnamon, salt, baking powder, baking soda, ginger and cloves. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the pumpkin puree, eggs, oil, apples, chopped walnuts, and vanilla.

**If you are making these ahead, cover both bowls with plastic wrap and place the wet ingredients in the fridge. Do NOT combine them until the morning**

To make the streusel, combine all of the ingredients and mix together with either a pastry blender or a fork. If making these muffins ahead, the streusel can be stored overnight in the fridge. Just microwave it for about 10-15 seconds to soften before using.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir until combined, do not overmix. Divide the batter among the muffin cups and top with streusel pressing it slightly into the batter. Bake average sized muffins for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. If making jumbo sized muffins, increase the cooking time by about 8 minutes.

Allow the muffins to cool on a rack for about 15 minutes then serve warm.

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