The Pumpkin Revival

80 degree weather has finally arrived, signaling the beginning of autumn in Texas. Along with cooler temperatures, a signature fall favorite has returned once more: the pumpkin.

By Theresa Callaway

“Jack-O’-Lanterns, orange, gourds and scary things, nice sweater weather and, of course, candy, is what I think of when I think of fall,” says UT student Rand Fowler.

Although fall’s favorite “vegetable,” these bright orange gourds have a history of legal conflict.

According to University of Illinois horticulture educator Ron Wolford, although pumpkins are considered fruits because they have seeds, the Supreme Court has ruled that they are vegetables. Like tomatoes, pumpkins are caught in the twisted “fruit or vegetable” paradox because of the Supreme Court case, Nix v. Hedden. In 1893, they determined that tomatoes and similar plants were vegetables, so they could be taxable when they were imported to the United States. “Botanically speaking, pumpkins, tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and watermelons are fruits, but culinarily, they are identified as vegetables as result of action by the Supreme Court,” Wolford says.

Despite the controversy and fruit/vegetable confusion, pumpkins are celebrated nonetheless. Worldwide coffeehouse chains, such as Starbucks and Einstein Bros Bagels, have picked up on this popular flavor, due to its seasonal popularity. Whereas Bubba from Forest Gump lists the ways you can prepare shrimp, Starbucks shift supervisor David Cameron lists pumpkin varieties available at Starbucks on campus. “We have pumpkin pie, pumpkin cream cheese muffins, pumpkin scones and pumpkins loaves. We have the pumpkin the whole year ‘round, but it’s the pumpkin spice that everyone mainly enjoys,” Cameron says.

Shelley Pogue, a personal chef and creator of The Texas Food Network likes to experiment with pumpkin, too. “I absolutely love pumpkins, whether it’s pumpkin pie or pumpkin scones. It’s good for you and after a long Texas summer, it reminds me of the fall,” Pogue says.

Want to hop on the pumpkin trend? Whether it’s a fruit or a vegetable, ring in the beginning of autumn with Chef Pogue’s pumpkin cream cheese muffins.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins
Courtesy of Chef Shelley Pogue

Prep Time: 2 hours 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20-25 minutes
Yield: 24 cup cakes

Ingredients for Filling:
– 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
– 1 cup confectioners’ sugar

Ingredients for Muffins:
– 3 cups of all-purpose flour
– 2 cups of sugar
– 2 cups of pumpkin puree
– 4 large eggs
– 1 1/4 cups of coconut oil
– 1 1/2 tablespoon of pumpkin pie spice
– 2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
– 1 teaspoon of salt
– 1 teaspoon of baking soda
– 1 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
– 1/2 teaspoon of ground clove

Ingredients for Topping:
– 3/4 cup of sugar
– 1/4 cup of flour
– 1 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
– 1/4 cup of cold butter pieces

To make the cream cheese filling: Combine the cream cheese and confectioners’ sugar in a medium bowl and mix well until smooth. Place the cream cheese on plastic wrap and form it into a log that is about an inch in diameter. Put the cream cheese log into the freezer and chill until firm, it will might take around 1-2 hours.

To make the muffins: preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Line muffin pans with paper liners. In a medium bowl add the dry ingredients whisk to blend. In a separate bowl add the eggs, sugar, pumpkin puree and oil and whisk until blended. In the bowl of the wet ingredients you will add the dry ingredients and mix just until incorporated. Making the topping: Combine the sugar, flour and cinnamon in a small bowl and blend, add the butter pieces and cut into the dry ingredients with a fork until the mixture is crumbly. Hold until ready to use.

Making the muffins: Fill each muffin tin with 1-2 tablespoons of the batter. Cut the cream cheese filling into 24 pieces and place a slice of the cream cheese mixture on top of the batter you placed in the muffin tins. Then add the remaining batter among the muffin tins covering up the cream cheese. Add a small amount of the topping mixture over each of the muffin wells. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until done. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely before serving, remember the cream cheese was cooking too it will burn the over eager.

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