Black and Gold...
I remember this poem from when I was in grade school. I can't remember if it was 1st, 2nd or 3rd grade, but in any case, this was what I remembered about Halloween the most. Everything is changing. The weather gets cooler, you start wanting to go apple or pumpkin picking. You buy apple cider and caramel apples. Let your kids run crazy and jump in piles of brightly colored leaves. This is a magical season, and it better be, because us Chicagoans have one HELL of a winter to deal with every year.
It's what I call: "KK's Chocolate Chunk Pumpkin Whatever"
The reason I named it "whatever" is because it can either be made into a bread, a cake, or muffins. It's a quick bread recipe, which is what muffins are all about. Guh my house smells amazing right now. Like cinnamon deliciousness. Its really hard to focus with the house smelling this good.
Ok, so I'll paste the recipe in here, but what I want to talk about is the method. When you're making quick breads, it's important not to over-mix the batter. Who can tell me why this is important?:
You don't want to develop gluten, which can make the final product tough.
I know, this is confusing. When you're making yeast breads, like french bread or pizza dough, gluten formation is important. That chewiness is something that we all love about those kinds of doughs. For quick breads, however...that's a whole different animal. Think of it more like a cake than a bread, if that helps? You don't want a cake to be chewy like bread do ya? I mean, if you do, mix away. Me, I'll stick with deliciously tender, which is what you'll get when you don't over-mix.
So here's the recipe. As always, I have photos to walk you through it. You're gonna love this recipe. Honestly.
2 cups flour
3 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
½ tsp baking soda
2 large eggs
1-15 oz can of pumpkin puree
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
½ cup milk
¼ cup oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
6 ounces or half of a 12 oz bag of either semi-sweet or milk chocolate chips (depending on how sweet you want it)
PREHEAT oven to 350 degrees. Prep the loaf pan with cooking spray and lay the parchment paper in the bottom of the pan. Leave an edge over the side of the pan to use as a sling to get the bread out after it's baked (or, if you're making muffins, lay out 21 muffin cups in 2 muffin tins, or, if you're making the cake, spray the bottom with non-stick spray, don't worry about a sling).
MIX the dry team together and whisk to combine. Set aside. In a separate bowl, mix the wet team together without the chocolate chips and whisk until blended. Pour dry ingredients into the wet and stir with spatula just until they come together. Add chocolate chips and stir until evenly dispersed. If there are lumps, it's no big deal. They'll cook out in the oven.
POUR the batter into the loaf/cake pan and bake for 1 hour (if you're making muffins, use a #40 scoop to dish out two even scoops of batter into each cup, bake for 20 minutes). When the hour is up, pull the loaf/cake out of the oven and test with a toothpick (do the same after 20 minutes for muffins). If it comes out with batter on it, slide it back in the oven for 10 minutes (2 minutes for muffins) and test again. Repeat every 10 minutes (2 minutes) until there is no batter remaining on the toothpick. Crumbs are ok as you can see in the picture on the right.
COOL loaf pan on a wire rack until it's cool enough to handle, then use the parchment paper sling to get the bread out of the pan and allow to cool completely on the rack. For the cake, use your hand on the top, flip it out and then place it on a cooling rack. Cut into slices and serve. For muffins, just allow to cool completely in the pan.
For the muffin/cake versions, what I like to do to add a little..."bam?" is make chocolate ganache (pronounced: gah-nosh) to drizzle over the top. I use Ina Garten's recipe, which uses instant coffee granules to "kick it up a notch."
Here's her recipe for ganache:
1/2 cup heavy cream
8 ounces good semisweet chocolate chips
1 teaspoon instant coffee granules
Heat the heavy cream, chocolate chips, and instant coffee in the top of a double boiler over simmering water until smooth and warm, stirring occasionally.
Then I just hold each muffin by the bottom and dip the top in the ganache and sort of twist it as I come out so the top looks neater. For the cake I would just pour it over the top and let it drizzle seductively over the sides of the cake. It's an added oomph, and it's so yum. Plus, it's a very beautiful and seasonally appropriate dessert for Thanksgiving.