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The best autumn muffin -- ever!

These fall harvest muffins will fill your house

These fall harvest muffins will fill your house with an inviting aroma and fill your mouth with the flavors of autumn. Photo Credit: AP Photo/Larry Crowe

The goal here was simple: an autumnal muffin to top all other muffins.

We wanted something over-the-top good. Something that will fill the house with warm, bakery smells. Something you would see at a coffee shop and immediately think about how tight your pants will be in the morning. Something you buy and devour anyway, then go back for another.

And so we put our all into it - cinnamon, ginger, allspice, cardamom and cloves. We added brown sugar, and butter (of course!), vanilla and pumpkin. For good measure, we even added apples, pecans and dried cranberries.

The only way to push this even further would be to drizzle it with a lemon sugar glaze (1 teaspoon lemon juice to 1/4 cup powdered sugar). And whatever you do, be sure to eat them still warm from the oven.

Fall Harvest Muffins Start to finish: 45 minutes (20 minutes active) Makes 12 muffins

For the topping:

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, softened

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup dark brown sugar

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 cup rolled oats

Pinch salt

For the muffins:

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup white whole-wheat flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

1/4 teaspoon cardamom

1/4 teaspoon ground clove

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, melted and cooled

1 cup dark brown sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup canned pumpkin

1 apple, peeled, cored and grated (about 3/4 cup)

1/2 cup chopped, toasted pecans

1/2 cup dried cranberries

Heat the oven to 375 F. Coat a 12-cup muffin tin with cooking spray or line with muffin papers.

To make the topping, in a medium bowl, rub together the butter, flour, brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon, oats and salt until crumbly and well combined. Set aside.

To make the muffins, in a large bowl, whisk together both flours, the baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, cardamom, clove and salt.

In another bowl, whisk together the melted butter and brown sugar. Whisk in the eggs and vanilla, then stir in the pumpkin.

Gently but thoroughly mix in the dry ingredients, mixing until just incorporated. Stir in the apple, pecans and cranberries. Divide the batter between the prepared muffin cups.

Sprinkle a bit of the topping over each muffin. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then finish cooling on a rack.

Nutrition information per serving (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 404 calories; 180 calories from fat (45 percent of total calories); 20 g fat (10 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 77 mg cholesterol; 53 g carbohydrate; 5 g protein; 5 g fiber; 140 mg sodium.

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