But then Hubby found them—as he was picking up branches from the weekend’s strong winds and rain. “I’ve actually seen some brown nuts,” he reported rejoicing as he returned from the portion of our yard that’s on the south side of the house. Those trees usually are our nominal producers; they drop the smaller pecans that we usually let pecan-seekers take home for their own, since they fall near the public alleyway and we usually have plenty to spare.
But our prized paper-shell tree near the house has shown no signs of promise. We’ll take the tiny ones on the south side and get there first before the pecan-happy outsiders can stake their claim. My own fresh nuts for our Thanksgiving pie this year, even if we have to scrounge for a cup full!
Now to the Sticky Bun Pumpkin Muffins that prompted me to fork over the LAST of the LAST. Southern Living said this was from among the best pecan recipes its staff had ever tasted. I had to agree. Fifteen ounces of fresh pumpkin puree (I could also have used a 15-ounce can of storebought) made these little buns super-moist. A mixture of toasted pecans stirred into a butter/brown sugar/corn syrup topping went into the bottom of greased muffin cups; the pumpkin batter went on top of that.
On emerging from 25-minutes of baking, the muffins had to be turned out (the pan inverted) immediately, topping-side up. Then they cooled on a wire rack so that things could solidify. Any extra topping that remained in the muffin pan was spooned over the muffins so that not one drop of that sweet, gooey stuff was wasted.
Cute little muffins on the outside, smooth and spicy on the inside! I was glad I tried them—and even gladder that making them hadn’t had to bring on sackcloth and ashes after all.
Sticky-Bun Pumpkin Muffins
2 cups pecan halves and pieces
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup (I used dark brown; worked just fine)
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 cups granulated sugar (or sugar substitute)
1 tablespoon pumpkin-pie spice
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt (or salt substitute)
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin (or 15 ounces fresh pumpkin puree)
1 cup canola oil
4 large eggs (or 1 cup egg substitute)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake pecans in a single layer in a shallow pan 8 to 10 minutes or until toasted and fragrant. Stir halfway through. 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. Top each with 1 rounded tablespoonful pecans. In a large bowl stir together flour and next 4 ingredients. Make a well in center of mixture. Whisk together pumpkin, next 2 ingredients, and 2/3 cup water. Add to dry ingredients. Stir just until moistened. Spoon batter into prepared muffin pans. Fill three-fourths full. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center emerges clean. Invert pan immediately to remove muffins. Arrange muffins on wire rack. Spoon over muffins any topping remaining in muffin cups. Let cool 5 minutes. Makes 2 dozen.