My earliest memory of my dad involves a snowball, a mailbox, and my face.
My second earliest memory of my dad, the one that I prefer to remember, involves Sunday morning drives to our local bakery.
Each Sunday morning I would drive into town with my dad. Our regular stop was the local, mom-and-pop bakery. I was likely no more than four years old, but I remember the brown paneled walls, the smell of the freshly brewed coffee, and the smiling face of the woman who worked the counter like it was yesterday. While my dad was busy placing our order, I would press my nose up against the glass display case. Giant sprinkled cookies and pastries as far as the eye could see filled its shelves. But each and every time my eyes always stopped to gawk at the same two items: the crumb cake and raisin buns.
I recall many a return drive home from the bakery, me in the backseat with a raisin bun nestled among a piece of waxed paper. I would systematically unroll the bun into one long strand and pick out the raisins from the folds. Then I would make my way to the center of the bun…the very best part, the part that would never fully unwind. There lay a dense, sweet, cinnamon filling just waiting to be savored. I’ve never found another treat like it.
The only thing better than the lightly glazed raisin buns were the crumb cake squares. Dad never let me indulge in one of those treats in the car. They were always neatly tucked away in the white bakery box and secured with the traditional red and white twine. No, I would need to wait until we arrived home to dive into one.
Once home Dad would carefully place the bakery box on the kitchen counter, undo the twine, pick out his favorite treat, and leave. He would leave me alone, in the kitchen, with the crumb cakes. I remember lifting up the lid to the box and standing on tip toes to peer inside. I would wrap my small hands around one of the squares and sit at the table. The ratio of crumb to cake was clearly in favor of the crumbs. There was a thick layer of crumbs lightly dusted in powdered sugar. I know that there was some kind of cake that those crumbs sat on top of, but I don’t remember it. See, I never ate the cake. I only had eyes and taste buds for those crumbs. Little by little I would remove the crumbs from the cake until there lay a sad, blank rectangular canvas.
Needless to say, I’ve always loved crumbs, and I still do. I kind of chuckled as I was scrolling through some of my food related blog posts. Crumb pies, crumb muffins…all evidence of my affinity for crumbs.
The recipe that follows combines some of my favorite flavors: pumpkin, cinnamon, and chocolate. They all come together to create a delicious muffin. The flavors are subtle. The muffin recipe is gluten free and vegan; however, the crumbs do contain dairy. You can certainly opt to forego the crumb topping, but I have no idea why in the world you would do that to yourself!
Gluten Free Chocolate and Pumpkin Crumb Muffins
yields 12 muffins
1 – 15 oz. can 100% pure pumpkin
2 tablespoons cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 tablespoons coconut oil (melted)
1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup oat flour
1/4 cup tapioca flour
1/4 cup Bob’s Red Mill 1-to-1 Gluten Free Flour
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup flax meal
1/2 tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup dark chocolate chips
5 tablespoons cold, salted butter, cut into small cubes
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup Bob’s Red Mill 1-to-1 Gluten Free Flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a standard size muffin tin with parchment paper liners. These liners are the best. They release easily every single time. They are worth it.
In a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the pumpkin, vinegar, applesauce, coconut oil, almond milk, and sugars. Mix on low for one minute. Then, increase speed to medium and mix for an additional minute until the ingredients are well combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
Next, add in all of the remaining dry ingredients, except the chocolate chips. Note, there is no need to buy a bag of oat flour. You can easily make your own by placing 2 cups of rolled oats (not quick cooking) into a food processor and pulsing until light and powdery.
Mix all of the ingredients together until just combined. Fold in the chocolate chips.
Fill each muffin nearly to the top.
To make the crumb topping, cut the cold butter into small chunks; place in a bowl. Add in the flour, sugar, and cocoa. You may use a pastry blender to combine the ingredients, however, I always just use my hands. Most cookbooks stress that you should not use your hands because their heat will soften the butter. I prefer to use my hands because it allows me to create the exact size crumbs that I want. So, I work the ingredients together quickly, pressing until crumbs form.
Evenly distribute the crumbs over the muffins and gently press down.
Bake for 25 minutes or until the center is set when a cake tester is inserted into the middle.
Allow the muffins to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing to a cooling rack. Allow the muffins to sit for 30 minutes before serving.