A Muffin with a Cupcake Complex: Pumpkin Muffins with Molasses-Ginger Glaze

I scan recipes in magazines the same way I scan menus at restaurants: I’m looking for something bizarre, something new, something I’ve never before experienced. Sometimes the results are icky (see squash-sausage soup below), and sometimes they’re delightful. Case in point: pumpkin molasses ginger muffins.


What might pumpkin, crystallized ginger and molasses taste like in a muffin? That’s the question that sends me out to the grocery store late at night, on a quest for ingredients; it’s what causes me to spend the time it takes to prep the muffin tins, to prepare the ingredients, to mix it all together and to clean it when it’s over. I am a man on a mission: a mission for unexpected flavors combos; the genesis of something new on the tongue. I am also on a mission to make you click to read more. You know you love it!

This recipe comes to us from this month’s Bon Apetit. Surprisingly, the recipe’s not available on Epicurious so I will do the generous thing and type it out for you. So here we go…

Prep: 25 Mins. Total: 2 Hours

(Includes cooling time.)

Makes 6 giant muffins or 18 standard muffins.


Nonstick vegetable oil spray

2 3/4 cups all purpose flour

2 tsps ground ginger

1 1/2 tsps baking soda

1 tsp salt

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup canola oil

3 large eggs

1 15-oz can pure pumpkin

1/2 cup plus 1 Tbs mild-flavored (light) molasses

1/2 cup buttermilk

1/2 cup chopped crystallized ginger, divided

Ok let’s stop a moment and learn a lesson about chopping candied ginger. As you may remember, I purchased my first immersion blender yesterday. The immersion blender comes with a little mini-food processor type thing so I thought to myself: “Why not chop the candied ginger in there?” In it went:


Looks like it might work, right? It’s not the worst idea in the world, is it?



Ok, so that’s a waxy, warm ball of sweaty ginger that went promptly into the garbage. The second attempt was done successfully by hand.

Now back to your regularly scheduled recipe.

Preheat oven to 350F. Spray 6 giant (1 1/4-cup) muffin cups or 18 standard (1/3-cup) muffin cups with nonstick spray. Sift flour, ginger, baking soda, and salt into medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat 1 cup sugar and oil in large bowl to blend. Beat in eggs 1 at a time, blending well after each addition. Beat in pumpkin, 1/2 cup molasses, buttermilk, and 1/4 cup crystallized ginger. Stir in flour mixture until just blended.

Divide batter among prepared muffin cups.


Bake until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, about 40 minutes for giant muffins and 30 minutes for standard muffins.


Transfer muffins to rack; cool completely.


Whisk 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, 1 1/2 Tbs water and 1 Tbs molasses in medium bowl, adding more water as needed to form a thick glaze. Dip muffin tops in glaze; transfer to rack, allowing glaze to drip down sides. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup crystallized ginger. Let stand until glaze is set, about 1 hour.


As the title of this post suggests, these muffins have a cupcake complex and yet they retain their muffin integrity. I think it has to do with the lightness of the batter: these don’t feel heavy or dense. The glaze isn’t as thick and rich as normal cupcake icing; and yet the experience of eating it offers many of the same pleasures without the guilt.

I brought these to class this morning and everyone ate gladly. “These are good,” said the teacher. Yes, I fed my teacher muffins. As the saying goes: “When it’s time to kiss asses / bring in the molasses.”

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