Spooky Spider Web Pumpkin Muffins

I make sweet potato muffins all the time using my adapted recipe from Gweneth Paltrow’s Sweet potato & five spice muffins. These muffins are super for school lunch boxes as they can be made completely gluten and dairy free, depending on your school food policy. My son’s school has a healthy eating policy and don’t allow anything with eggs, nuts and seeds in the kids packed lunches. What we love most about these muffins is that they are actually healthy but the kids think they are treats. A sneaky vegetable in the muffin batter means more nutrients that your kids may not normally eat in vegetable form.

If you are catering for picky eaters or people with allergies this Halloween then these muffins are perfect! Using pumpkin makes these more Halloween appropriate, the recipe below works with pumpkin or sweet potato and it is just a 1:1 swap.

I spiced things up a little with the decorating to match my Halloween theme this year. Inspired by Tieghan over at https://www.halfbakedharvest.com/.

You can use fresh sweet potato or pumpkin, whichever you have or prefer and can also use canned pumpkin puree for these muffins.

SPOOKY SPIDER WEB PUMPKIN MUFFINS

A.K.A. GWENETH PALTROW’S SWEET POTATO & CHINESE FIVE SPICE MUFFINS

This recipe makes 6 large or 7 regular muffins.

  • 180 g mashed pumpkin, or sweet potato or you can use 1/2 to 3/4 a tin of pumpkin puree
  • 60 ml olive oil
  • 60 ml whole milk, you can substitute for almond milk if you want to go completely vegan
  • 80 ml good maple syrup (grade A)
  • 1/2 tsp of vanilla
  • 170 g self-raising flour, or self raising gluten-free flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1.5 tsp ground five spice 
  • pinch of fine salt

To decorate:

  • some marshmallows
  • 80 g milk chocolate
  • some Maltesers or Poppet chocolates for the spider body
  • some sprinkles
  • candy eyes, I find it super hard to get candy eyes in Ireland, so I use white chocolate drops and some coloured decorating icing pens to do the eye colour.

THE HOW

Heat the oven to 200 C.

To prepare the pumpkin or sweet potato: If using pumpkin cut into quaters and rub with a little oil or Rub the whole sweet potato with a little oil. Bake on a tray in the oven until soft (when a knife can easily be inserted all the way through), I roasted them for about 30 to 40 minutes (mine were medium in size, not large). Set the pumpkin/sweet potato aside until its completely cool. Cut open and scoop out the flesh and mash.

For the pumpkin/sweet potato, I do more than one batch at a time, so putting 3 or 4 on a tray to roast at one time and then I freeze the unused pumpkin/sweet potato mash in single quantities for future muffins. This saves a lot of time in the future.

Whisk the olive oil, milk, maple syrup and vanilla into the pumpkin/sweet potato. This doesn’t take a lot of time, literally just about 20 seconds.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, ground five-spice and salt. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.

Line a muffin tin with paper liners and evenly distribute the muffin batter among the cups.

Reduce the oven temp to 190 C and bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.

To decorate:

While the muffins are baking, make the chocolate spiders. In a heat proof bowl, melt the chocolate in the mocrowave in 20 second intervals, stiring inbetween until melted. Scoop the chocolate into a piping bag and on a piece of baking paper pipe out legs for the spider, place two Malteser chocolates or Poppets in the centre for the body and then add sprinkles. Add the eyes on with a drop of chocolate to stick them. Leave these aside to set.

When the muffins are cooked and cooled then make the webbing:

In a heat proof bowl, microwave the marshmallows for 20 -30 seconds. Give them a stir. Then using two hands (I wear gloves for this part) stretch the melted mallows apart, they will be stringy and web like and literally just drape the webbing across the muffin tops. Repeat until you have the desired webbing.

Once the mallow webbing is cool, then add the chocolate spiders to the muffins, as they are chocolate you don’t want them to melt on a warm muffin so the muffins must be cool. The mallow webbing should be a little sticky for the spiders to stick.

Leave the muffins to fully set for about an hour. I do this as the marshmallow webbing can be very very sticky but after about an hour they stop being sticky and are just springy. This means it is easy to pick up and eat but can also be put inside a school lunch box, on a party platter etc without causing sticky issues.

My son loves these, and I love them as the muffins themselves are actually healthy and provide some nutrition.

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