You may be able to buy canned pumpkin year round, but there is something about pumpkin desserts that just begs to be eaten this time of year. It's a little colder than fall, it's not quite the bitter freezing and constant snowfalls of winter. I've made these muffins from a whole pumpkin and I've made them from a can – and they taste just as delicious either way. And finishing them in 30 minutes instead of 4 hours is quite a perk.

Dipping the warm tops of the muffins in demerara sugar gives it a nice extra crunch and sweetness on the top. If you want to serve these as a side dish instead of a dessert, you should leave that off, as it might be a bit too sweet.

If you have pumpkin pie spice or apple pie spice on your shelves, you can simply use 2 teaspoons of that. This is a recipe that takes well to substituting applesauce for the oil, but I would switch out half of it instead of all for a tasty and slightly healthier treat.

Pumpkin Muffins – Makes 18

1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup white sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
3 eggs
2 1/3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

demerara or turbinado sugar

Mix together the pumpkin, oil and sugars until smooth.

Add in the eggs, one at a time, and mix until incorporated well.

Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves, and stir until just combined – do not overmix.

Divide the batter between 18 greased or paper-lined muffin cups.

Bake on 350 F for 20-25 minutes, or until spring back when lightly pressed with your finger.

Let cool five minutes in the pans, then remove, and dip the tops in demerara sugar, and let cool completely on a wire rack.