Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

20121017-225121.jpgThe crisp fall air embraces me with a chill, as the colorful leaves fall all around me blown by the lively autumn winds. I stop, taking in the moment of pure seasonal beauty. As my hair is tossed to and fro with reckless abandon while I head back to my home, I can smell something…just a whiff of something wonderful. As I enter the house, the smell has gotten clearer; warm, spicy, sweet, buttery and…pumpkin. Pumpkin will always be a part of my heart in the fall.

20121017-225804.jpgI come into the kitchen, the smell
now taking over my senses and warming me to the bone, and I see pumpkin muffins, with so much streusel they can barely hold it all. I pick one up, and take that first bite. Aside from the spiced, moist, pumpkin and the crunchy, buttery streusel I find a very pleasant surprise: a creamy vanilla-scented cream cheese center, perfectly balancing out the soft pumpkin flavor with its bright tanginess.

20121017-230345.jpgThese muffins are the epitome of fall comfort food. I can think of no better way to spend a fall afternoon than baking these and sharing them with loved ones, seeing their utter delight as you make their day.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

Recipe from The Brown Eyed Baker

For Cream Cheese Filling:

4 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

For Streusel:

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup pecans, chopped
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
3 tbsp butter, melted

For the Muffins:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin purée
5 oz (1/2 cup + 2 tbsp) vegetable oil
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

For Cream Cheese Filling: In medium bowl, combine filling ingredients, stir until smooth. Form the mixture into a 12-inch log on a piece of plastic wrap, wrap tightly, and freeze two hours.

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with muffin papers or spray with cooking spray; set aside.

Make Pecan Streusel: In medium bowl, use a fork to combine streusel ingredients; set aside.

Whisk together first 7 ingredients in large bowl; set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients.
Pour pumpkin mixture over the dry ingredients. Stir together just until dry ingredients are moistened.

Divide cream cheese mixture into 12 pieces.

Scoop a small amount of batter (1 1/2 tbsp) into the muffin cups. Place 1 slice of cream cheese in center of batter; fill with remaining batter.
Sprinkle the streusel on top of each muffin. Press streusel lightly into batter.

Bake until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool in pan 5 minutes; remove muffins to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Yield: 12 muffins

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