Those early September days are like gold, and they never seem to last long enough. This particular morning started out cool, and with the warmth of the sun turned into a perfect afternoon to relax on a boat. I was spending Labor Day weekend with a solid group of college girlfriends on Lake Elmo, MN to celebrate one of the girls’ birthdays. Our get-together happened to be over one of my two-week sugar hiatuses, and in the current moment I was feeling proud of myself for making good choices all week.
As we know too well, the beginning of September is the time of year when pumpkin-spice-everything spreads its wings to evolve into a full takeover of our society’s food culture. So when a box of pumpkin spice cupcakes was passed around the boat, I wasn’t surprised. And I held strong! GO me. Meat, cheese and crackers would do just fine. (Thanks, German heritage.) It was when one of the girls took her second bite of cupcake to find that the center was a cream cheese filling that I internally lost my shit.
I mean, wouldn’t YOU? It was the first time all week that I was regretting my commitment to ban sugar, so I promised I’d make it up to myself… Well, here I am over a month later and I haven’t stopped thinking about that cupcake. This would sound insane to anyone without a sweet tooth, but the beauty of it is that it’s served as the inspiration for this week’s featured treat. It being a new recipe makes me overjoyed and a bit relieved to report its success, that it yields 27 muffins, and that I have fully made up for missing out last month. All is good and well over here, ya’ll.
PUMPKIN CREAM CHEESE MUFFINS
– 8 oz. cream cheese / softened
– 1 c. powdered sugar
– 3 c. all-purpose flour
– 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
– 1 tsp. ground nutmeg
– 1 tsp. ground cloves
– 1 Tbs. + 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
– 1 tsp. salt
– 1 tsp. baking soda
– 4 eggs
– 1 tsp. vanilla
– 2 c. granulated sugar
– one 15 oz. can pumpkin puree
– 1 c. vegetable oil, or the like / I used coconut oil
– ½ c. granulated sugar
– ⅓ c. flour
– 1½ tsp. ground cinnamon
– 4 Tbs. cold, unsalted butter / cut into small chunks
– Filling: Combine cream cheese and powdered sugar; mix until completely blended and smooth. In the bowl that you’ve mixed it, form into a clump and chill in the freezer until slightly firm, at least an hour. The mixture should be firm so that it’s less sticky, but soft enough to scoop into later.
– Muffins: Combine flour, spices and baking soda; mix well. In a separate bowl, combine the eggs, vanilla, sugar, pumpkin puree and oil. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, mix until well blended. Then add in the dry ingredients and mix with a spoon until just incorporated.
– Topping: Combine sugar, flour and cinnamon; mix well. Add in butter chunks and use a fork to blend it all together. The end result should be coarse and crumbly. Tip: Keep the topping cooled while not using so that it retains its crumbliness.
– Place paper muffin liners in a muffin tin, and add enough batter to each to just cover the bottom of the liners. Dig into your chilled lump of cream cheese filling and scoop a dollop to place over the layer of muffin batter, then add muffin batter on top so the cup is just over ⅔ full, for room to rise during baking. The cream cheese filling should be completely covered.
– Sprinkle crumb topping evenly over all muffins and bake at 350’ for 20 minutes.
– Transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool completely. (Although, I ate one warm and it was amazeballs.)
Please do enjoy more than one. You’ve earned it.