Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Cream Cheese-Stuffed, Streusel-Topped, Cranberry Orange Mini Muffins

A few years ago, I started hosting a Christmas brunch for my family every Christmas. It's always so much fun, and I try to keep the menu very simple so it doesn't become stressful. I make a Crock pot breakfast casserole and some muffins, and my sister brings her French toast casserole. I serve things I can make ahead of time, and never have I been more glad about that than last year.

I can't remember if I mentioned it here, but last Christmas Eve, I was struck with a horrible, terrible, no-good stomach bug. It was so awful. I was stuck at home in bed, feeling miserable, while my family was celebrating without me. Thankfully, I'd prepared everything for our brunch the next morning earlier in the day before I got sick, so I didn't have to cancel it. I didn't feel like eating much on Christmas morning, but I was so happy to just be with my family at that point!

Sorry for talking about sickness in a post about food, but all of that was to say: I made these muffins for Christmas brunch last year, and they were ah-mazing. Like seriously, seriously delicious. As I mentioned, I like to keep things easy for this particular celebration, so these muffins start with boxed mix that is jazzed up with the additions of a sweetened cream cheese filling and a delectable orange-pecan streusel. I don't typically bake muffins from a box, but I was so surprised by how well these came out and how fresh they tasted. They're the perfect balance of sweet and tart and such a festive way to start Christmas morning...or any morning, really.

Cream Cheese-Stuffed, Streusel-Topped, Cranberry Orange Mini Muffins
slightly adapted from StoneGable

For the muffins:
1 box cranberry-orange muffin mix (I used Krusteaz Light)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon orange zest

For the filling:
8 ounces cream cheese
3 tablespoons confectioners sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon orange zest

For the streusel:

1 cup flour
1/3 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup chopped pecans
6 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon orange zest

1. Preheat oven according to muffin mix recipe. Spray two 24-cup mini muffin pans with nonstick cooking spray. Mix muffin recipe as directed, adding vanilla and orange zest. 

2. In a seperate bowl, add all filling ingredients and beat on high with a mixer for 1 minute. 

3. In a third bowl, mix all topping ingredients with a pastry cutter or fork. The butter should be well-incorporated and the topping should be crumbly. 

4. Add a tablespoon of the muffin batter to each mini muffin cup (about half full). Add 1 teaspoon of the filling to the center of the muffin batter in the cups. Top with another tablespoon of the muffin batter. Top each muffin with crumb topping. 

5. Bake according to box directions, minus about 5 minutes for mini muffins. When done, cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Take muffins out of pan and let cool completely.