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Pumpkin Bread with Millet & Chocolate

I love it when I'm at the market and I happen upon a new (to me) ingredient.  Something I'd heard of, sure...but never actually been able to get my hands on.  So, imagine my excitement when I happened upon millet in one of my market meanders.  I've been seeing millet used a lot lately, even though I know it's actually been around for ages.  As in 5,000 years or so.  This makes it one of the earliest cultivated grains.  Although its origins were in China, it has long been used in India, as well.

The funny thing is, as I studied the tiny little grains (round with a small speck on the side that sort of makes it look like a tiny bead), I had the oddest feeling that I actually had seen or used them before.  I knew it would eventually come to me, if only I could locate that file stashed away somewhere in the overflowing file cabinets lining my brain.  And then...OH!  Duh.  Of course.  I have seen them...held them even...many times before.  Where might that have been, you ask? 
photo credit: Lyrinda Snyderman via Gary Bogue 
Why yes, in the deer bird feeder of course!  Yes, I know that I need to do what I'm always telling my kids (and the hubs) to do- pay more attention!  Guilty.

Millet is easily digested, cooks quickly, and it's gluten-free.  Whether eaten hot as a breakfast cereal, used in place of rice or potatoes as a side dish, or added uncooked to crackers or breads, it's a fantastic addition to any pantry.  I think so, at least.  My inaugural millet celebration used the simplest technique: adding it dry to a quick bread.  I found it oddly good.  Like, I couldn't stop taking bites.  Basically because it was such a strange new sensation.  Crunchy like nuts...yet not nutty.  A bit "dry" and reminiscent of puffed rice...if that rice was extremely hard.  I realize that kind of makes it sound bad.  But really, it's not.  I'm just not sure how to describe it.  It definitely added interest and a pleasant crunch to this soft, moist bread.  
Pumpkin Bread w/ Millet & Chocolate
adapted from Joy the Baker 
makes 3 mini loaves (1 regular size loaf / ~16 muffins)*

4 oz. butter, melted
¾ c. dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 c.  pumpkin puree
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1¾ c. whole wheat flour
½ tsp. fine sea salt
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp.  ground ginger
⅛ tsp. ground cardamom
⅛ tsp. ground mace
good grating of nutmeg
½ c. dry millet
¼ c. buttermilk
½ c. dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325° F.  Grease 3 mini loaf tins and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together melted butter, brown sugar, eggs, pureed pumpkin, and vanilla extract (I just use a fork, no biggie).

In a separate bowl, stir together flour, salt, baking soda, spices, and millet.

Add the dry ingredient to the wet ingredients.  Add the buttermilk and stir everything together.  Fold in the chocolate chips.  Just be careful not to over-mix as this tends to toughen up quick breads.
Divide batter evenly into prepared pans.  Lift each one a couple of inches off the counter and then drop back on the counter a few times to "settle" and level out the top.
Slide carefully into the preheated oven and bake for ~30-35 minutes (*time may be longer for one regular size loaf & shorter for muffins 10-15 minutes either way), or until a skewer/toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let rest for at least 15 minutes before serving.  Serve warm or at room temperature.  Bread will last, well wrapped at room temperature, for up to 3 days.
Can also be frozen successfully by sealing in a freezer-safe bag and stored in the freezer.
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