Ah, nutmeg!  I had never really thought twice about this unassuming spice; I admit I have even omitted it from recipes because I thought it was pointless, until recently.

What a sad little spice.  It goes months in your cabinet neglected and forgotten.  Then you need it and it is stale with no trace of its aromatic and flavor potential remaining.

Dear reader, I ask you to put an end to this neglect and put nutmeg on the pedestal it deserves and you will discover a suprisingly bitter, yet sweet, and perfectly comforting addition to many recipes. Luckily, I have already done so thanks to these wonderful nutmeg muffins from Molly Wizenberg.  The key to capturing the magic of nutmeg is buying it whole and grinding it yourself on a microplane.  I had heard this a thousand times, but not until I made these muffins did I finally heed this advice.  Can I say heaven?!

Then, last week as I was meticulously decorating fruit tarts, another pastry cook working in the kitchen with me, began mixing the batter (like 20 gallons of it) for our amazing pumpkin bread.  I was overcome by the smell of nutmeg and thought I should add a fall twist to my beloved new muffin recipe.

Pumpkin Nutmeg Donut Muffins

Adapted from Nutmeg Doughnut Muffins by Molly Wizenberg

Makes 12 Muffins

Note: The cakey texture and powdered sugar coating makes these muffins donut-like, hence the name.  In an attempt to preserve this texture and highlight the nutmeg, these are not intended to have a very intense pumpkin flavor.  I was just looking to add a seasonal ingredient which in turn allowed me to cut out some of the fat.

For the muffins:

3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

2 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

1 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp freshly ground nutmeg

2/3 cup whole milk

3 tbsp buttermilk

1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature

3/4 cup + 2 tbsp granulated sugar

2 large eggs

1 cup pumpkin puree, canned or homemade

For the topping:

3 tbsp butter, melted

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Grease a muffin pan and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg.

In a small bowl, combine milk and buttermilk and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter with paddle attachment for a few seconds until fluffy.  In a steady stream, add sugar and beat until very light and fluffy and looks like icing.  Beat in eggs, one at a time, until well incorporated.  Mix in pumpkin puree until combined.

Alternate adding flour and milk mixtures, in three additions each, until just combined and no bits of flour remain.  Portion batter into muffin tin and bake for 25 minutes, or until sharp knife inserted into center of muffin comes out clean.  Cool in pan for five minutes.

While muffins are cooling, melt butter for topping and place powdered sugar in a shallow bowl.  Remove muffins from pan.  One-by-one brush with melted butter then roll to coat completely in powdered sugar.  Let muffins continue cooling on wire rack until ready to serve (The muffins are best the day they are made.  If saving for another time I would recommend waiting to coat until ready to serve.  Just mic the muffins for a few seconds and top as directed).