Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

When we were planning out our garden for this past year I decided that instead of the typical butternut and acorn squashes that I can easily get from the farmer’s market or grocery store, I would plant some winter squashes and pumpkins that are a bit more exotic and hard to come by. Unfortunately, our garden really struggled this year, and of the three varieties that I planted only one – the Musquee de Provence – survived. I was only able to harvest two pumpkins, but I tried to make the most of them. They both got chopped up and roasted – I used one to make a gigantic batch of pumpkin soup; the other I simply pureed and threw into the freezer. I now have a freezer full of pumpkin – about 14 cups worth – so I foresee a lot of pumpkin-themed recipes in the next couple of months.

First out of the gate were these pumpkin cream cheese muffins. I was inspired to make them after a recent trip to Starbucks – I actually didn’t try the Starbucks version, but they looked good sitting in the display case, and I figured I could find a recipe for something similar. The one I ended up using came from a food blog called Annie’s Eats. They turned out fabulous – warm, and spicy and perfect for fall. These are darn good muffins, and probably better than anything you can get at Starbucks.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

Adapted from Annie’s Eats

Yield: 24 muffins

Following is the recipe as originally written. I didn’t have any pumpkin pie spice, so I looked up a few recipes and adjusted the spices accordingly. For a half-recipe (12 muffins) I used 2 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp ginger, 1/2 tsp each nutmeg and cloves, 1/4 tsp allspice and 1/8 tsp cardamom. I also added a teaspoon of vanilla extract to the wet ingredients. I had a problem with the cream cheese mixture firming up. Even after 2 hours in the freezer it was still pretty soft and it stuck to the plastic wrap. I think next time I might try dropping spoonfuls onto a parchment lined cookie sheet and freezing them that way instead.

Ingredients:

For the filling:

  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar

For the muffins:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups pumpkin puree
  • 1 1/4 cups vegetable oil

For the topping:

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 5 tbsp. flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 4 tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces

Directions:

To prepare the filling, combine the cream cheese and confectioners’ sugar in a medium bowl and mix well until blended and smooth. Transfer the mixture to a piece of plastic wrap and shape into a log about 1 1/2-inches in diameter. Smooth the plastic wrap tightly around the log, and reinforce with a piece of foil. Transfer to the freezer and chill until at least slightly firm, at least 2 hours.

To make the muffins, preheat the oven to 350˚F. Line muffin pans with paper liners. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, pumpkin pie spice, salt and baking soda; whisk to blend. In the bowl of an electric mixer combine the eggs, sugar, pumpkin puree and oil. Mix on medium-low speed until blended. With the mixer on low speed, add in the dry ingredients, mixing just until incorporated.

To make the topping, combine the sugar, flour and cinnamon in a small bowl; whisk to blend. Add in the butter pieces and cut into the dry ingredients with a pastry blender or two forks until the mixture is coarse and crumbly. Transfer to the refrigerator until ready to use.

To assemble the muffins, fill each muffin well with a small amount of batter, just enough to cover the bottom of the liner (1-2 tablespoons). Slice the log of cream cheese filling into 24 equal pieces. Place a slice of the cream cheese mixture into each muffin well. Divide the remaining batter among the muffin cups, placing on top of the cream cheese to cover completely. Sprinkle a small amount of the topping mixture over each of the muffin wells.

Bake for 20-25 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely before serving.

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