Written by J'Nel Wright and Christina
I think I smell fall in the air. As hard as it is to bid a fond farewell to summer fun, I absolutely love the bounty of adventures that a crisp, golden fall season bring. And when the evening chill draws the family indoors, the heady scents of this spicy season tickle their nose.
Pumpkin becomes the star of the show and the honor is well-deserved. Ranging from soups, pies, casseroles and ice cream, this cheery gourd is as versatile as it is delicious.
Some social circles credit the early European Jewish Community with introducing the world to pumpkin delights.
“The pumpkin was first introduced to the Jewish communities of Europe by new Christian converts (conversos) travelling with Spanish ships,” wrote Web designer and blogger Ariela Pelaia. This is according to the late Rabbi Gil Marks, author of The Encyclopedia of Jewish Food and renowned food expert.
“Many Jewish converts became sailors and traveled between Europe and the New World,” Ariela explained. “At some point, they brought pumpkin seeds to Europe where Sephardic and Italian Jews were the first to embrace the now quintessential autumn fruit.”
According to Pelaia, the pumpkin eventually became a bounteous example of the fall harvest and nestled itself in the middle of the traditional harvest holiday Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles) celebrated within Sephardic and Bukharan Jewish communities. The feast begins September 27 and ends at nightfall on October 4. The idea behind a pumpkin cookie was probably motivated by the need to offer transportable dishes that could easily travel to the celebration.
While the original Toll House Cookie was the scrumptious creation of Ruth Wakefield in Whitman, Massachusetts in 1938, I’d like to think the Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookie is a local treat we can claim as our own.
As the top selling baked good at the local grocery store, pumpkin chocolate chip cookies enjoy a universal appeal. Every household has access to their favorite version, this is mine, courtesy of Taste of Home.
Not to be ignored is the equally portable and doubly delicious muffin. As the older sibling to the cupcake, muffins help sweet tooth fans save face when we want a treat yet don’t want to get called out for feasting on junk food. Much like the cupcake, muffins can easily sustain most sweet and savory ingredients.
During the fall season is when muffins are arguably at their finest. Pumpkin nestles quite easily in a muffin setting, loaded with chocolate chips, raisins, cranberries and even cream cheese. Here is an easy and delicious recipe for Pumpkin Muffins to try that’s sure to warm the body and soul.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line muffin tin(s) with 24 muffin cup liners and set aside. (I always use the foil muffin cup liners because the muffins always come out clean and whole. I often find with paper liners that the muffin sticks to it and you loose half of your muffin.)
Mix all of the cream cheese mixture together with a hand mixer or a wisk until smooth.
Stir in 3 tablespoons of miniature semi sweet chocolate chips. Set aside.
In a medium mixing bowl, stir together all wet ingredients until well combined.
In a medium mixing bowl, stir together all dry ingredients until well combined.
Mix wet and dry ingredients together into one bowl. Stir ONLY until all ingredients are incorporated. Batter will look lumpy, that is fine. (Over mixing the wet and dry ingredients together will make for tough muffins.)
Stir the remainder of the 1 cup miniature chocolate chips into the batter just until they are mixed throughout.
Fill muffin tins 2/3 full of batter. I LOVE to scoop the batter in with a medium scoop (amazon) similar to this one.
Drop 2-3 teaspoons of cream cheese mixture onto each muffin top. Swirl cream cheese mixture into the top of the muffin with a butter knife or toothpick. (If you are in a hurry you can skip swirling the cream cheese and just leave it in dollops.)
Bake at 375 degrees for 25-28 minutes. Remove from oven and cool muffins on cooling rack. These are wonderful warm or cold. Store leftovers in a air tight container or freeze them in a freezer bag for later use.
- 1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 Tbsp pumpkin pie spice
- 1 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 can pumpkin - 15 oz
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 8 oz cream cheese, softened
- 1/3 cup powdered sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 cup mini semi sweet chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Line muffin tin(s) with 24 foil muffin cup liners and set aside.
- In a small bowl, mix the room temperature cream cheese, egg, powdered sugar and vanilla together with a hand mixer or a whisk until smooth.
- Mix in 3 Tbsp of miniature chocolate chips. Set aside.
- In a medium mixing bowl, cream the pumpkin, oil, eggs, and brown sugar until well combined.
- In a large mixing bowl, add the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and pumpkin pie spice. Stir with a whisk until fully combined.
- Add the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Stir ONLY until all ingredients are incorporated. Batter will look lumpy, that is fine.
- Stir in the remainder of the chocolate chips.
- Fill muffin tins 2/3 full of the pumpkin batter.
- Drop 2-3 teaspoons of the cream cheese mixture onto each muffin top. Swirl cream cheese mixture into the top of the muffin with a butter knife or toothpick.
- Bake for 25-28 minutes.
- Remove from oven and cool muffins on cooling rack.
- Store leftovers in a air tight container or freeze them in a freezer bag for later use.
- (I always use the foil muffin cup liners because the muffins always come out clean and whole. I often find with paper liners that the muffin sticks to it and you loose half of your muffin.)