Monday, October 31, 2011

Pumpkin Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Muffins


Song Pairing:
You Really Got A Hold On Me by She & Him
I know Smokey Robinson wrote and performed the song.  The Beatles also performed it.  But I fell in love with Zooey Deschanel's voice (the She in She & Him) the minute I heard her sing in the movie "Elf."  And when they covered the song on their first album, Volume One, I was smitten!  As I was when I first created this recipe!

This recipe does have a hold on me since, to my most closest calculations, I have made this recipe more than any other recipe in my entire life - even more than the granola!  It's quick and easy and so good!  I have carted these muffins all over the world when I have traveled - both for snacks and a quick breakfast.  Almost every word of the song could apply to these muffins.  Except the "hold me, squeeze me" parts.  Don't want them to do that, really.

When my "baby" started first grade I started college.  I can't say I went "back" to college because you can't go back to somewhere you've never been.  I married very young and, at the time, we could only afford to send one of us to school.  Since I didn't really have a clear picture of what I wanted to study, and my husband did, we decided that he would be the one to go.  No regrets on my part.  It's a decision that worked well for us.  When children came along we were both absolutely certain that we would do whatever we could so that I could stay home with them.  Again - no regrets - loved it all. 

But, then, I started thinking that I would like to write - study English.  And when that window opened I climbed right on through and ended up on the campus of Weber State University.  I was what they called a "non-traditional" student.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that I wasn't the only one of those!  It took eight years for me to get my Associates, working around everyone's schedule.  But, seriously, I couldn't have done it without the help of my children - tutoring me in the math I'd forgotten, taking on their own laundry, and being guinea pigs in projects.

Often, on the way home from class, I'd stop at a bakery and get one of their Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins.  You'd also get a free slice of fresh bread with any purchase.  Carb heaven!  I knew that once I got home I'd only have a couple of hours to get a head start on my reading before the kids started coming through the door, ready to share their day with me - my favorite part of my day!  So as I'd drive home I'd pick that muffin apart, licking my fingers and cursing the fact that I'd dropped the napkin just out of reach - again.
I loved how the chocolate chips, although still in their original shape, would instantly turn to pools of chocolate when they hit my mouth.  And, if a piece of chocolate should be anything, a liquid, velvety pool is it!  The pumpkin flavor was hearty, the overall texture of the muffin was a little dry but, when you have all those pools of chocolate running around it doesn't really make you all that sad.  Its crowning glory, however, was that the bottom was just as delightful as the top.  It was 100% satisfaction!

The down side?  They weren't exactly cheap - and they were enormously large.  So I got to thinking that maybe I could make these puppies. This was no easy feat since I was in my "I hate to cook, bake, grill, and I'd-rather-eat-out-every-meal" days.  I wasn't the most successful person in the kitchen.  I had a few "go to" dishes but, mostly, being in the kitchen was torture.  It took about a month to talk myself into seriously trying.

Well, I nailed the recipe on my first try.  It was sheer luck!  I simply modified a pumpkin bread recipe I had stashed away.  It's been sweet pumpkin bliss ever since. 



I like to make them in both sizes, but mostly I make the mini size, with no paper liners.  They are just perfect for quick pick-me-ups.  I trick myself into thinking I'm having three muffins for breakfast when, in fact, those three minis probably are less than one regular-sized muffin.  I also found paper muffin cups that don't require a muffin tin - just line a regular sheet tray with them and bake away!  They peel away better, too.  When I know I'm giving them as gifts I'll often use those because they are just a little fancier than regular paper muffin cups.  Another bonus to this recipe is that I don't have to haul out a mixer for it.  It goes together so easily I can mix it by hand.

About a year after I started making my own, I stopped back into that store for one of theirs - the one that started it all.  I was so happy to discover that mine were actually better.  Go figure!

Pumpkin Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Muffins
Printable Recipe Card
2 eggs
1/4 c. water
1 - 14 oz. can pumpkin
1/2 c. vegetable oil
1 1/2 c. sugar
1 3/4 c. flour
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. nutmeg
1/2 t. cinnamon
3/4 t. salt
1 c. chocolate chips
1 c. rolled oats

Graham cracker topping:
1 c. graham cracker crumbs
1/4 c. melted butter
2 T. sugar

Preheat oven to 350.

Place the eggs, water, pumpkin puree, vegetable oil, and sugar in a bowl and stir until well combined. 

In another bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.  Add to the wet ingredients.  Make a couple stirs and when wet and dry ingredients start to come together, add the chocolate chips and oats.  Continue to stir just until they are combined.  Fill cups about 3/4 full. 

If you'd like to add a topping for texture, mix the graham cracker crumbs with the melted butter and sugar and sprinkle over the top.  I think some chopped toasted nuts (pecans or walnuts) would be a delicious addition as well.

Bake as follows:
Regular-sized muffins - 30 - 35 minutes
Mini-sized muffins - 20 minutes

A toothpick should come out clean when inserted into the center

Let cool - if you can wait...  Then repeat the process over and over and over again for years to come.

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