Cook the Book: Spiced Pumpkin Muffins with Pepitas

Cook the Book: Spiced Pumpkin Muffins with Pepitas

[Photograph: Robyn Lee]

It pains me to be the voice of reason during Pumpkin Baking Week, but after our endeavor into the sordid world of Paula Deen's Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cakes I feel morally obligated to include at least one recipe that can be passed off as vaguely good for you.

These Spiced Pumpkin Muffins with Pepitas from Paula Disbrowe's Cowgirl Cuisine are good for you—the flour is whole wheat and they are sweetened with molasses and dried dates—but the best part about these muffins is that they don't taste like health food. Not being the biggest fan of dates, I was shocked to see how much I enjoyed the rich little nuggets that speckle these muffins; they added an earthy caramel-like sweetness, and chewiness. But to counter the whole wheat flour called for, I decided to add a sprinkle of demerara sugar to the walnuts and pumpkin seeds so that they candied slightly in the baking process. It worked out beautifully; the muffins ended up with sparkly crust that was sweet, nutty, and perfectly caramelized.

Disbrowe is a city girl at heart who moved to a ranch in Texas with her husband a few years ago and transformed her cooking style to match. These muffins say it all—they are hearty enough for hungry cowboys (and girls), but the flavors remain refined enough for coffee shop frequenting city folk.

As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have a copy of Cowgirl Cuisine to give away this week.

  • Yield:12 muffins


  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more to grease the tins
  • 1 cup pumpkin purée (pure canned pumpkin, not pumpkin pie mix)
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons molasses
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup ground dates
  • 1/3 cup toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • 1/3 cup toasted walnuts


  1. 1.

    Preheat the oven to 400°F.

  2. 2.

    Grease a 12-cup muffin tin with butter or nonstick spray. Melt the butter and place in a medium bowl with the pumpkin, buttermilk, eggs, vanilla, and molasses. Stir with a fork to blend.

  3. 3.

    In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, brown sugar, baking powder, salt, spices, and baking soda. Using a rubber spatula, fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until just mixed. Fold in the dates and half of the pepitas and walnuts.

  4. 4.

    Divide the batter among the muffin cups and top with the remaining pepitas and walnuts (use your fingers to gently press them into the batter). Bake for 10 minutes, rotate the tins, and bake another 10 minutes, or until puffed and firm and a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.

  5. 5.

    Allow the muffins to cool in their tins for 5 minutes before inverting onto a cooling rack.