Wednesday, October 5, 2011
Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins
It’s high time I joined the ranks of food bloggers extolling the virtues of these muffins. I made them for the first time this year, and I really, really wish I hadn’t waited so long. They’re so delicious, and I won’t even tell you how quickly two dozen of them disappeared from my kitchen.
There are two things that make these better than your average pumpkin muffin: 1. the streusel topping, which makes a crackly, spicy-sugary crust on top of the muffins; and 2. the cream cheese filling, which is actually more like cream cheese frosting. I added a little bit of vanilla to the filling to make it taste even more like frosting. I am powerless to resist the pumpkin-cream cheese combo. Powerless, I tell you.
While I was making these, I was wondering why the freeze-the-cream-cheese-mixture step was necessary. I thought maybe the cream cheese mixture was too heavy for the batter, so I froze it as indicated. But my friend Amanda just went ahead and dolloped the mixture into each muffin without freezing it first, and she said it worked out just fine. So I won't bother messing with the freezing step next time.
There was too much clove flavor for my tastes, so I’ve adjusted that in the recipe below. But other than that and the freezing step, I won’t change a thing when I make these again. And I will be making them many, many times – this fall and every fall to come.
Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins
adapted from Annie’s Eats
For the filling:
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
For the muffins:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 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
1. To prepare the filling, combine the cream cheese, vanilla, 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.
2. To make the muffins, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely before serving.