I haven’t baked much since Aussie’s been down in sunny SoCal. I’ve been a little too mopey for that… and I don’t want to end up eating an entire batch of cookies by myself, which could happen if no one is watching me!
Yesterday, though, I was hit with a serious urge to bake, due exclusively to a recipe for (get ready for this) Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins.
For realz? Because pumpkin muffins weren’t perfectly wonderful enough, they had to get a cream cheese filling? And if THAT wasn’t enough, they also needed a streusel topping?
Oh man oh man.
(Pardon the worse-than-usual photo… I forgot the inside shot and had to take this one at work!)
Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins, adapted from Annie’s Eats
I hate baking with oil. I have nothing against the taste or final result, but I really just hate pouring a giant dose of oil into my otherwise pretend-wholesome batter. Since these were muffins and therefore theoretically healthy, I decided to try swapping applesauce for the oil. Wow, am I glad I did! That swap reduced the POINTS value per cupcake from a whopping 7.5 to a fairly reasonable 4.5. Yay! I probably wouldn’t use this swap for something without filling, though — the flavor is great, but the texture gets a little dense and weird. You don’t notice it with the cream cheese, but you definitely would without!
These muffins are super moist, dense, and flavorful. These were a big hit at my office… and I love that they taste just like fall. Yum!
Makes 12 muffins
For the filling:
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar (I didn’t bother sifting)
For the muffins:
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tbsp plus 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 + 1/8 cups unsweetened applesauce (isn’t halving recipes FUN?!?)
For the topping:
1/4 cup sugar (I used raw, as I used up all my regular sugar for the batter)
2 1/2 tbsp flour
3/4 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp cold butter, cut into pieces
First, make the filling: Combine cream cheese and powdered sugar and mix well. Transfer the mixture to a piece of saran wrap and shape into a log about 1 1/2-inches in diameter (easier said than done!). Smooth the plastic wrap around the log, and freeze for at least 2 hours until slightly firm.
After two hours, make the batter for the muffins: Preheat oven to 350F. Put cupcake liners in a muffin pan, lightly grease. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, pumpkin pie spice, salt, and baking soda. In a medium bowl, use a hand mixer to combine eggs, sugar, canned pumpkin, and applesauce until blended. Add dry ingredients a little at a time, and mix until just combined.
Next, make the topping: Whisk together sugar, flour, and cinnamon. Add butter pieces. I tried using the suggested fork to cut the butter into the dry ingredients, but I gave up and used my fingers instead. It worked well!
Assembly time! Put 1-2 tablespoons of batter in the bottom of each muffin cup. Slice the log of cream cheese filling into 12 pieces, and place a slice into each muffin cup. Then fill up the rest of the muffin cup with batter — I went almost to the top with no spillage in the oven. Sprinkle some topping on each muffin. (Note: I had enough extra batter (but not filling) to make three extra muffins… but as I mentioned before, they don’t taste that great filling-less when you swap applesauce for oil!).
Bake for 20-25 minutes (mine went for 23, but probably could have gone another minute or two). Let cool almost completely before serving — they taste best when the cream cheese is still just a little bit warm.