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The goal was simple: Create an autumnal muffin to top all other muffins.

We wanted something over-the-top good. Something that will fill the house will warm, bakery smells.

Something you would see at a coffee shop and immediately think about how tight your pants will be in the morning. Something you buy and devour anyway, then go back for another.

So, we put our all into it — cinnamon, ginger, allspice, cardamom and cloves. We added brown sugar and butter (of course!), vanilla and pumpkin.

For good measure, we even added apples, pecans and dried cranberries.

The only way to push this even further would be to drizzle it with a lemon sugar glaze (1 teaspoon lemon juice to 1/4 cup powdered sugar). And, whatever you do, be sure to eat them still warm from the oven.


Start to finish: 45 minutes (20 minutes active)

For the topping:

4 tbsp. (1/2 stick) butter, softened

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup dark brown sugar

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 cup rolled oats

Pinch salt

For the muffins:

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup white whole-wheat flour

1-1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. ground ginger

1/2 tsp. ground allspice

1/4 tsp. cardamom

1/4 tsp. ground clove

1/2 tsp. salt

3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) butter, melted and cooled

1 cup dark brown sugar

2 eggs

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1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 cup canned pumpkin

1 apple, peeled, cored and grated (about 3/4 cup)

1/2 cup chopped, toasted pecans

1/2 cup dried cranberries

Heat the oven to 375 F.

Coat a 12-cup muffin tin with cooking spray or line with muffin papers.

To make the topping, in a medium bowl, rub together the butter, flour, brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon, oats and salt until crumbly and well-combined. Set aside.

To make the muffins, in a large bowl, whisk together both flours, the baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, cardamom, clove and salt.

In another bowl, whisk together the melted butter and brown sugar. Whisk in the eggs and vanilla, then stir in the pumpkin. Gently but thoroughly mix in the dry ingredients, mixing until just incorporated.

Stir in the apple, pecans and cranberries.

Divide the batter between the prepared muffin cups. Sprinkle a bit of the topping over each muffin.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then finish cooling on a rack.

Makes 12 muffins.

Nutrition facts per serving: 404 calories; 180 calories from fat (45% of total calories); 20 g. fat (10 g. saturated; 0 g. trans fats); 77 mg. cholesterol; 53 g. carbohydrate; 5 g. protein; 5 g. fiber; 140 mg. sodium.

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