Nov 1, 2011

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

Wow! I'm in pumpkin heaven! Although I just tried this recipe for the first time tonight, these are some of the best muffins I've ever made! Warm and delicate muffins, just out of the oven, with a deliciously sweet cream cheese filling. So good! Two thumbs way up for this recipe even though it takes a little more work than normal.

This recipe, which my friend Angie led me to, comes from a blog called Annie's Eats. I followed her recipe pretty much to the letter except when it came to the topping. I'm sure there is nothing wrong with Annie's topping, and I'll probably give it a try next time, but I decided to do a little experimenting. For half of the muffins, I thought that I'd go "topless" and sprinkle nothing at all on them. They are already plenty sweet and plenty rich. For the other dozen muffins, I did more of a brown sugar streusel topping. I mixed together about 1/3 cup brown sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and a few tablespoons flour (no butter). I also scattered some chopped pecans across the top. Anyway, BOTH options are wonderful, but I think I have a slight preference for the brown sugar topping.

Anyway, give these a try. You won't be sorry.

Makes 24 muffins

For the filling:
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup confectioners' sugar

For the muffins:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon 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 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces

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. (It may be hard to resist immediate consumption, but the cream cheese filling gets very hot!)