Dorm Cooking: Pumpkin Chai Muffins

Trying to cook in a dorm is kitchen is quixotic at the best of times and absolutely absurd the rest of the time; but, somehow, it is worth trying anyway. If you have read the Series of Unfortunate Events, just think of the Baudelaires straining their pasta puttenesca with a window screen, and you will have a good idea of the creativity one must embrace for successful dorm cooking.

In spite of the fuss of having to tote pots and pans up and down a few flights of stairs every time I want to make scrambled eggs, I do so nonetheless. Why? I just love to cook! It runs in my family. Even before I could see above the counter-top, my mom and my grandma were teaching me how to whisk, chop, season, and enjoy all sorts of dishes; and, oddly, I formed scores of memories around food. Just recently, I have unearthed a lot of those memories as my Grandma Obermeirer passed away last week. She was truly one of the most joyful, generous, and holy people I have ever known, and she taught me much of what I known about cooking, sewing, and life. I will miss her, but I know that she would never want to see anyone teary now that she is with God.

The best way I can preserve her memory is to carry on her legacy in goodness, positivity, and, of course, cooking! I happily rise to the challenge. She certainly would have loved to read about my dorm cooking adventures, so I plan to share them in honor of her resourceful and optimistic spirit (both qualities which are essential in any kitchen enterprise).

Since it is, after all, autumn, I don’t want to miss out on prime pumpkin season. Over fall break, my mom bought me a pumpkin. After it sat decoratively on my desk for a while, I decided to put it to better use: pumpkin chai muffins! Of course, there is a significant difference between a pumpkin sitting on a desk and a pumpkin in a muffin. In order to infuse my pumpkin into some delectable muffins, I had to make some pumpkin puree. That was an adventure in itself, since I did not have a food processor at my disposal. Here you can find a full post on making your own pumpkin puree/mashed pumpkin. But now, on to the muffins…

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Pumpkin, Chai, & Cream Cheese Muffins

(Adapted from Cookie and Kate)

Yields 1 dozen muffins

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup olive oil or melted coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 c granulated sugar (more if you prefer sweeter muffins)
  • 1 c pumpkin puree or mash (store-bought or homemade, click here for recipe)
  • 1/2 cup milk of choice
  • 1 chai tea bag
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon + more for toppings
  • 1/4 tsp each of ground cloves and nutmeg
  • 1 & 3/4 c whole wheat flour
  • 1/3 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 6 tsp cream cheese (about half of block), cut into 1/2 tsp pieces

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 325° F (165° C). Grease muffin tins.
  2. On the stove-top or in the microwave, heat milk to boiling. place tea bag in hot milk and steep 5-7 minutes.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together oil and honey until well combined. Whisk in eggs. Then, stir in sugar, chai-infused milk,  and pumpkin, followed by baking soda, vanilla, and spices.
  4. Add flour and oats. Mix with spatula until combined. If batter seems too dry, add an extra splash of milk.
  5. Divide batter into muffin tins, filling each cup to about a centimeter below the rim. Place 1/2 tsp of cream cheese in each muffin cup. If you want the cream cheese to be a filling, push it down into the batter. Sprinkle with additional cinnamon
  6. Bake 23-26 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into a muffin comes out clean. Let them cool before removing from tin. You will probably need to run a butter knife around the edges of each cup to release the muffins. Enjoy!

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