Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins
Whenever I bake, which is rarely, I always try to take shortcuts or tweak the recipe to make it vegan. It usually fails. But I do have one goof-proof method to make an easy boxed cake mix even easier and much healthier: canned pumpkin. If you add one 14 ounce can of pumpkin to one box of cake, muffin, or cupcake mix, omitting the eggs and oil it calls for, you get a perfectly baked good, without the added fat, and with some serious vitamin A and fiber to boot. And since most mixes are vegan to start, this substitution keeps the sweet treats vegan, without making them dense or gritty like some vegan substitutes.
I work as the dietitian at the Boston Conservatory where I also teach the freshmen dance class’ nutrition course. This year I have a full class of 37 students. I made a promise to them on the first day of class that if I didn’t learn their names by the end of September, I’d bake for them. They were pleased, I was not. I don’t like baking, so the thought of making 37 of anything baked encouraged me to learn their names, stat. Which I did not do. I think I came pretty close, but I’m terrible with names. I have a condition. And when you have multiple sets of the same named students, it gets confusing! Fortunately, my sneaky baking trick is super easy.
1 box Trader Joe’s pumpkin muffin/bread mix, or any vanilla cake/muffin mix
1 14.5-oz can pumpkin
2 cups dark chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, or according to your boxed mix’s directions. Combine dry mix, pumpkin and chocolate chips in a large bowl and hand mix, or use a stand mixer. I was so excited to use my Kitchen Aid mixer that I received for our wedding – the quintessential wedding gift that I’m determined to get good use out of!
Scoop mix into muffin tin about 3/4 of the way full, and bake according to the package directions (or a few minutes less if you have a finicky oven).
They came out perfectly: light and fluffy with pumpkin pie spice flavor shining through, along side the ooey gooey chocolate chips. They’re the perfect treat to ask for forgiveness for my 37 nameless (to me) students. I’m working on it…I swear.