Fall muffins with a hint of Indian summer.
September isn’t even half over, and fall everything is appearing in stores. There are the requisite Halloween pumpkins, the big bags of candy that have been in the grocery store since August 1, the polyester costumes hanging on racks at Walmart. Your Pinterest feed starts filling up with stuff like DIY wheat centerpieces, Oreo Pumpkin Pops, and burlap ghosts. And then there is the explosion of pumpkin food. Spiced pumpkin lattes at Starbucks are only the start: we’ve got pumpkin beer, pumpkin Jell-O, pumpkin yogurt, pumpkin spice Hershey’s Hugs . . . it never ends. So I feel like I’ve fallen down on the job by not providing at least five or six pumpkin recipes by now. Here’s the first, and it’s a good one: pumpkin-zucchini muffins.
Even those unhappy with the Halloween creep – but really, how bad can it be when the craft store is already stocking sparkly papier-mache reindeer and paint-your-own Santa figurines? – will like this twist on the typical pumpkin-flavored dessert. The muffins have one foot in summer (the zucchini) and one in fall (the pumpkin), just like me. I’m still enjoying the evening bike rides I took in the middle of July, but I’m also fixing the ribbon on my handmade (and therefore falling apart) harvest wreath. Welcome to fall 2014!
Note: This recipe calls for two eggs, and specifically instructs you to beat them in one at a time. Curious why? Me too. It sounds like a basic fact that any cook should know, but I’m an amateur cook at best. So I turned to the experts at . . . Google. The god of the search engine steered me to Chow.com, which explains why it’s better to beat in eggs slowly, one at a time, to a creamed butter-and-sugar mixture. The gradual process allows time for the butter mixture and the egg to emulsify. Like any combination of fat and water – mayonnaise is a good example – the mixture doesn’t happen easily. Think about an oil slick floating on the top of the ocean: that’s a good analogy for the egg-butter combination. Add the eggs all at once, and they’re harder to beat in. This is what KitchenSavvy has to say:
If you add the eggs one at a time and blend each of them in well, the fat will emulsify with the eggs, similar to making mayonnaise, only in this case you are adding the eggs to the fat rather than the other way around.
Add the eggs in one splash and the ingredients may not combine at all, leaving the butter grainy. You’ll have to beat the eggs so long to get them incorporated that your baked goods may come out of the oven with a funny sheen: the egg whites have been beaten into a partial, shiny meringue.