This recipe had been calling my name since October. If this blog were a food magazine, now might be too far past fall and holidays to bake pumpkin. But I make all editorial judgements for my kitchen, and I don't care to be perfectly seasonally exact. I wanted these muffins. Plus, I had canned pumpkin to use up from my stock piling a few months ago (that stuff tends to disappear from shelves).
A pecan/butter/brown sugar mixture goes in the bottom of the tins, and you top it with pumpkin batter. Once they cook, you invert the pan to reveal magical mini upside down cakes.
I wasn't sure I could get rid of a whopping 24 decadent pecan-topped muffins at my work meeting, so I made half a batch as the recipe instructed and the other half with more fiber, less sugar, and dried cranberries inside instead of sticky-bun topping.
And then there was a sinful/healthy variety for the meeting... and for coworker snacks and roommate snacks and then weekend breakfast for my most wonderful Memphis weekend hostess (who had hoped I'd show up with a baked good for breakfast, how lucky). It sounds more generous than reality; I definitely ate a majority of these guys.
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 (15-oz.) can pumpkin
1 cup canola oil
4 large eggs
Stir together melted butter and next 2 ingredients. Spoon 1 rounded teaspoonful butter mixture into each cup of 2 lightly greased 12-cup muffin pans, and top each with 1 rounded tablespoonful pecans.
Stir together flour and next 4 ingredients in a large bowl, and make a well in center of mixture. Whisk together pumpkin, next 2 ingredients, and 2/3 cup water; add to dry ingredients, stirring just until moistened. Spoon batter into prepared muffin pans, filling three-fourths full.
Place an aluminum foil-lined jelly-roll pan on lower oven rack to catch any overflow. Bake at 350° on middle oven rack for 25 to 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Invert pan immediately to remove muffins, and arrange muffins on a wire rack. Spoon any topping remaining in muffin cups over muffins. Let cool 5 minutes.
Madoline's Healthier Variation for 1/2 Batch: Leave out pecan steps. Half all of the ingredients and substitute 1 cup whole wheat flour+3/4 cup all purpose flour for the flour and 3/4 cup sugar for the sugar. Mix in 2/3 cup dried cranberries before putting in muffin tips.