Love Me Some Pumpkin!

Pumpkin Muffins

Whole Foods Cream Cheese Pumpkin Muffin

Thoughts: I was kinda disappointed. Here Whole Foods is known for being health-oriented, I expected a rich and sweet pumpkin muffin and this simply wasn’t. Maybe it was the cream cheese that took away because admittedly it did taste a little off – I always have to wonder what’s really in these cream cheese fillings when they don’t require refrigeration because last time I checked, that stuff is suppose to be kept chilled and the Whole Foods bakery case most definitely was not. Makes me wonder if I’d have been better off with the pumpkin muffin they had sans cream cheese – at least then the flavor of the muffin would’ve gotten an honest shake on its own…

Entenmann’s Pumpkin Muffins

How They Rate…: Kinda like bigger versions of these little beauties, but this time with actual pumpkin flavor!

Yeah?: Well, a little, anyways … I found it odd that these were a little hit and miss even throughout the same box, in that one would have a nice and simple pumpkin taste to it, and then the next one – barely anything at all. The fluctuations weren’t dramatic enough for me to just cast these aside without bothering to finish the whole thing – they were decent and possibly even above average in their class of pre-packaged baked goods, but you can definitely find a better pumpkin muffin by hitting just about any actual bakerytoo… :(

Entenmann’s Little Bites Pumpkin Muffins

Found!: It may have taken me flying to another part of the country, but I finally came across these while wandering aimlessly around a Walmart in upstate New York during my recent trip there last week.

Quantity?: Now mind you, I’ve never really had Little Bites in any flavor, but seriously – there were only four tiny muffins in the entire package?!

Flavor…: I’m sure that someone somewhere along the line once said, “High hopes have far to fall…” and, well, I just wasn’t at all impressed with these little muffins. Like other iconic Entenmann’s treats, they had so much sugar in ‘em they kinda glowed out of the packaging, but I sure as heck couldn’t find anything resembling pumpkin flavor in there with my tastebuds, and I ate all five packages, just to be sure! 8O

Outlook: Fortunately, apparently Entenmann’s distribution in New York is just a whole lot friendlier to the pumpkin persuasion than it is here down south, so stay tuned, as we’ll be taking a look at packaged baked goods all week long and one of them is bound to taste good! ;)

Archer Farms Pumpkin Muffins

Do You Know the Muffin Man?: I was actually pleasantly surprised when I took my first bite of one of these little beauties – I’ve seen them in Target for weeks, and even just the other day found an old picture where I guess I bought them once for review but just never got around to posting it! A lot of time baked goods can get kinda tedious because not very good is a pretty typical response, but this time … better!

Not Just a Pretty Face: Admittedly the muffin top itself is very cream cheese dominated by that frosting drizzle, but once you dig down into the muffin itself, there’s a distinct pumpkin flavor, and it’s not super awesome strong like some other muffins who shall remain nameless, but as far as muffins that were mass-produced for a grocery store, Target actually did a pretty good job with theirs. 8O

Starbucks Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffin

Confidant: I’ll be honest – people are always telling me about all of the great pumpkin stuffs to be found at Starbucks, but because I’m not really a coffee drinker, I typically never get around to trying them. In fact, I’ve actually got a package of Pumpkin Spice Starbucks Via that’s been sitting here on my desk for almost a month already, so ummmm, yeah… :(

The Muffin!: That said, I grabbed this one conveniently from the Starbucks inside my local Target as I was finishing my grocery shopping, and I’m really glad that I did because it ended up turning out pretty tasty! It’s sad because I sample so many baked goods this time of year that taste absolutely nothing like actual pumpkin – it’s often a shock when I come across something like this that ends up being the real deal!

A Minor Critique: I wasn’t really crazy about the pumpkin seeds on top – I guess they’re supposed to be candied, but they just seemed like an odd, crunchy texture on an otherwise delicious muffin to me. Then again, the almost-danish-like cream cheese kinda made up for them and then some, so it’s still got a recommend in my books! :)

Walmart Bakery Pumpkin Streusel Mini Muffins

The Rant: I guess I wouldn’t get so riled up about these ones if Walmart didn’t make such a blatantly deceptive announcement like “Made with real pumpkin” on the label. I mean, I think they know what pumpkins actually look like – they did manage to pick one to put there on the label, though I suppose that could technically be clipart just the same.

Kinda makes me wish I’d taken an extra day on my drive back home from Michigan to swing through the old Walmart HQ in Bentonville, Arkansas – I could’ve stopped in and walked them through my website here, and by the end of our little talk, maybe I could’ve even taught a few of the otherwise I’m sure fine folks at Walmart WHAT PUMPKINS ACTUALLY TASTE LIKE!!!!!  :(

Admission: The streusel was kinda tasty, but pumpkin-y??? No…

Meijer Pumpkin Muffins

Redemption: Despite yesterday’s “pumpkin” donuts being kinda slimy and gross and anything but, their muffins on the other hand, were what I would call perfectly respectable. Not incredible or life-changing, mind you, but they:

  1. actually tasted kinda like pumpkin
  2. were moist and flavorful on the inside
  3. weren’t covered in slime

They pretty much reminded me of the same thing found at our local supermarket, Sweetbay, back home. Not terrific, but not slimy, either – a perfectly acceptable breakfast on the road.

Tim Hortons Monster Mash Pumpkin Spice Muffin

Reviewed By: Mom and Brandi

First Thoughts: Crunchy, spicy.

Dialog: “It’d be cool if they put pumpkin seeds on the top!”  “Oh… there ARE pumpkin seeds in it!  Very unique.”

No Surprise: Brandi liked it as well!

Creamy Curiosities: You’ll notice in the picture that there’s this little white dollop on top … we couldn’t quite figure out what it was.  The employee at Tim Horton’s said it’s probably filled with cream cheese or something, but clearly the employee isn’t being paid to know what’s in their products or anything.  They were very wrong.  Still unsure what the purpose of it is, but it’s on all the muffins (see exhibit B below).

Corn Muffins + Pumpkin

Preface: These next couple of posts are something a little different I wanted to try in continuing my efforts of posting a little more during the pumpkin off-season. All of these recipes were found over in the Libby’s section of Nestle’s VeryBestBaking.com website, and were selected because they all boasted a super-quick turnaround time.  In fact, I was able to whip up all three of these recipes in about an hour last night, so I thought it might be interesting to see how these just add pumpkin-style recipes really stood up!

Quick Review: Although the muffins were probably the most fun to make and looked beautiful both going in and coming out of the oven, the pumpkin honestly wasn’t really even noticeable in this one.  The muffins were nice and moist, and had a faint, orange glow to them which was promising, but aside from just being really good corn muffins, this recipe fell short…

Recipe: Corn Muffins + Pumpkin (via VeryBestBaking.com)

Panera Bread Pumpkin Muffie

Fabled Creations: I’ve often been told that Panera’s muffin tops are obscenely popular whenever I inquire about the always empty dish of them in the bakery window when I stop by for a morning snack.  Admittedly, I was a bit curious as to why they didn’t just make more of them in anticipation, but just like they don’t come over to my house to tell me what I should write about…
The Proof is in the Muffin Top: Or is it?  Maybe it’s because I ate it later on in the day instead of right then and there fresh out of the case like some sort of crazed muffin top fanatic, but … I wasn’t really all that impressed. It didn’t have nearly the pumpkin flavor that it’s full-sized papa boasted when I got a bite of him last year, and more so it tasted kind of dry, too.
Oh, The Oil!: I don’t want to consider this an excuse for said dryness, but I did notice – hell, you can even see some spots in the picture – that the bag itself managed to absorb a ton of oil out of this thing throughout the day!  I’ve noticed this even more prominently with their cookies, too, which I absolutely love even though they’re something like 450 calories a piece … maybe the oil is actually a trademark for the Panera Bread Co. or something…
Final Answer: If I had my choice to do it again, I’d just get a regular muffin, instead … unless Panera wants to try its hand at making pumpkin cookies! Now that might be interesting…

P.S. Maybe it’s just a guy thing, but “Muffie” is a ridiculous name for any product that you’re attempting to sell to actual people for actual, non-imaginary money.  I couldn’t bring myself to say it to the guy at the register, and I was barely able to type it for the title of this post.  Unless your main clientele is Winnie the Pooh, just calling them “Muffin Tops” would be perfectly fine!

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