I’m sure that most of us- if not all of us on more than one occasion- have had to whip up something quick and easy to serve guests and/or ourselves in lieu of of meticulously planning and preparing a meal from scratch. I’ll never shame cooking and baking shortcuts or anyone that uses them. I work full-time and have other obligations that require my full-attention. I can’t always clear a couple of hours in my schedule to spend in the kitchen mixing, chopping, seasoning, etc.
Such was the case earlier today, when wanting to enjoy the flavors of the season (namely: pumpkin) came with a time restraint. I opted to use pre-packaged boxed pumpkin bread mix to create pumpkin spice muffins for a late breakfast- taking advantage of the extra minutes the mix bought me to add a tasty salted caramel twist with extra ingredients I had laying around.
Pillsbury had the right idea with their packaged ‘Quick Bread’ mixes. Some milk, a little oil, a couple of eggs and some vigorous stirring- and you’ve got yourself a thick batter in minutes that can be poured into your pan and placed in the pre-heated oven. I even found these Fall styled baking cups for an added touch of cute. When all the batter was evenly distributed in the cups, I had exactly a dozen muffins with little to no leftover batter in my mixing bowl. I don’t like being wasteful, so I was pretty happy about this.
While the muffins began to bake, I got to work on giving my cream cheese flavored icing a little tint of orange with food coloring to make them look nice and festive. Some of you may be wondering “who puts icing on a muffin?” which is a completely fair question to ask. As much as I enjoy the taste of pumpkin, a lot of times the ‘spice’ part of it tends to be overwhelming. I like to sweeten it just a little and I find that pairing it with cream cheese usually has a delicious result. I don’t frost the muffin like it was a cake or anything- but a nice, thin layer along the top really evens out the flavor.
After the muffins had cooled and had been properly iced to my liking- I added a handful of roasted and salted peanut seeds to the top of them to give them a salty crunch. The final touch was then lightly drizzling melted caramel over the seeds and letting it harden and set.
The entire baking and decorating process from start to finish took about a half hour- and the finished muffins were delicious- the perfect combination of sweet and salty. I served them with warmed apple cider, and to make things a little more fancy and Autumn-esque- I decorated the placements with fake Fall leaves.