You can't really go outside without bumping into a pumpkin-flavored menu item this time of year. Dunkin' Donuts yesterday unveiled its pumpkin latte (I'll admit I chickened out rather than sampling that drive-through item), and Chips Chocolate Factory in Crown Center is testing its pumpkin-pie fudge.
And so with a plethora of pumpkin possibilities, I decided to pick the two I next encountered after deciding to battle pumpkin dishes this week. Hy-Vee's Pumpkin Whoopie Pie and Panera Bread's Pumpkin Muffie entered into the food ring shortly thereafter. Let the pumpkin kumitae commence.
Pumpkin Muffie from Panera Bread: It's ostensibly a muffin top, but a grown man shouldn't have to say the words, "Can I please have a pumpkin muffie?"
The muffie is not overly sweet -- it's a pleasant mix of pumpkin and honey. The taste is similar to pumpkin bread. However, the powdered sugar on top means that it doesn't lack sweetness.
Pumpkin Whoopie Pie from Hy-Vee: "We have whoopie pies," the friendly baker called out from the bakery. "Try the pumpkin." And with that friendly greeting, Hy-Vee earned its entry in this week's battle of the dishes.
The pumpkin flavor is mild, particularly in light of the cream-cheese filling, which actually tastes closer to vanilla cupcake frosting. This is a round pumpkin Twinkie. I hope that the product development team at Interstate Bakeries has the opportunity to taste one; it could lead to some pleasing new flavors of the cream-filled cake treat.
The Verdict: The Whoopie Pie wins in a walk, even if it may not be the most pumpkin-y option available. This battle might have been slightly uneven, though, because the ceiling for a muffin top is a lot lower than that of a whoopie pie. Perhaps we all just need to change our perceptions of what to eat for breakfast.