Wholesome pumpkin muffins with homemade 'Nutella' filling
Remember that time I waxed on and on about all the glee-worthy uses for excess pureed pumpkin? Maybe you don’t, and it doesn’t matter. (It was four weeks ago, almost.) Either way, the toothsome versatility of pumpkin puree is no secret, and chances are you aren’t itching for another application. That said, this is a two-in-one delight that is perfect for the holiday season and guilt-light to boot. So here you are. :)
If you love a bit of Nutella bliss but would prefer not to have the emusifiers, milk solids, sugar, and vegetable or palm oil it comes with, this simple, heavenly recipe from Minimalist Baker is for you. We hadn’t indulged in it for awhile, but were inspired to rediscover its joys when the mother of one of Chef F’s preschool classmates, recently returned from years spent living in Spain, mentioned Nutella being a daily fixture. That was also around pumpkin patch time, with Thanksgiving just beginning to peek around the corner, and further coincided events that meant a friend could use a pick-me-up of sorts…so logically stuffing healthy pumpkin muffins with homemade, naturally sweetened Nutella was inevitable!
Full disclosure, we’ve found that committed Nutella aficionados—or any European—has been somewhat less likely to wholly enjoy this homemade version of Nutella without critique. Tucked into muffins, that skepticism seems to dissolve. If using as a straight-up spread, adding a bit of melted coconut oil (about a tablespoon or so) and a touch of maple syrup or powdered sugar makes a world of difference for the skeptics, not least Chef F, who offers his hearty endorsement of both. That’s the gold star in this house. Easy energizer to keep on stuffing a bit of sweet surprise into every bite of life. :)
Homemade Nutella-stuffed pumpkin muffins
For the muffins:
1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour or gluten-free substitute
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1 cup pureed pumpkin
1/3 cup aquafaba (drained chickpea liquid)
1 egg, lightly beaten * (to make these vegan, I’ve substituted in a flax egg to combine with the aquafaba)
1/3 cup orange juice
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 to 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
Nutella filling (see below)
Preheat oven to 350 F.
In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and pumpkin pie spice. Make a well in the center and add the pumpkin purée, aquafaba, egg, maple syrup orange juice. Stir to combine. (Or mix the wet ingredients in a separate bowl and then combine if you please.)
Prepare a muffin tin with liners. Fill each liner about a third of the way up with batter, then drop roughly a tablespoon of nutella into the center of each muffin. Portion the remaining batter evenly among the muffin liners. Bake on the center rack 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Let cool 5 minutes before removing. Enjoy!
Nutella filling (from Minimalist Baker*): original link has great pics and tips!
3 cups raw or roasted unsalted hazelnuts
2/3 cup dairy-free dark chocolate (chopped // see notes for cacao version)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp sea salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and add hazelnuts to a baking sheet in a single layer. If raw, roast for a total of 12-15 minutes. If already roasted, roast for 8-10 minutes just to warm the natural oils and loosen the skins.
Remove from oven and let cool slightly. Then transfer to a large kitchen towel and use your hands to roll the nuts around and remove most of the skins.
Leaving excess skin behind, add hazelnuts to high speed blender or food processor. Blend on low until a butter is formed - about 8-10 minutes total - scraping down sides as needed.
In the meantime, heat the chocolate over a double boiler or in the microwave in 30 second increments. Set aside.
Once the hazelnut butter is creamy and smooth, add the melted chocolate, sea salt, and vanilla. Blend/puree again until well incorporated. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed, adding more salt or vanilla if desired.
*This recipe makes a healthy batch! Halve the recipe, or relax in the knowledge that extra can be easily enjoyed, or stored in the freezer.