Reader Request: Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins
Yesterday as I was sitting on the bus on my way to class, my phone buzzed. It was a text from a friend that contained the following:
I told him I was up for the challenge! So this one's for you Trev, thanks for reading :)
I started by googling "pumpkin cream cheese muffins" and one of the top recipes that came up was the following:
Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins Like Starbucks
The recipe looked good, but it didn't look very healthy...so this morning I got to work...the original recipe and my substitutions are below:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp cinnamon (I used 2 tsp cinnamon in addition to the pumpkin pie spice mix below )
1 tsp ground cloves (I left these out because I'm not really all about cloves so I didn't have any)
4 tsp pumpkin pie spice (I didn't have any pumpkin pie spice, so I made my own using 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp nutmeg and 1/2 tsp ground ginger, This made about 1 Tbsp which is three teaspoons)
1 pinch cardamom (I left this out too since it was optional)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
4 eggs (this seems like a lot to me, but I was already changing a lot of other stuff and I didn't want to mess the muffins up completely because baking is a kind of science...so I left the eggs alone for now)
2 cups sugar (I used just over 1 cup)
2 cups pumpkin
1 ¼ c vegetable oil (I used 1/2 c veg oil, 1/2 c unsweetened applesauce and one 2.5 oz container of baby food prunes- trust me, you can't taste them...it's a good way to add natural sweetness)
8 oz cream cheese (use low fat, fat free or neufatel 1/3 less fat)
Chopped pumpkin seeds or walnuts (I used walnuts)
Preheat oven to 350.
Put the entire brick of cream cheese on a piece of wax paper or parchment paper and shape it into a long log.
Put it in the freezer while you mix and fill the pans, up to an hour. (So I tried this, I squeezed and pushed it into a semi-log shape and put it in the freezer)
Unwrap and cut with a sharp knife so each cream cheese disk equals 1-2 teaspoons. If the cream cheese disks are too big around, cut thick slices and then cut them in half. This lets you push it down into the batter easier. (This did not work out so well. When I took the cream cheese out and tried to unwrap it, the wax paper was all stuck in it and was only pulling off in little pieces....so I scrapped that idea and threw the whole thing away)
Mix all ingredients together, except cream cheese and nuts.(I put all the dry ingredients in first, then added the wet)
Fill muffin tins (greased or paper cups) half full.
Put cream cheese disc in the middle, pressing down. (I had another 1/2 block of cream cheese in the fridge so I just cut off little pieces with a knife and pushed them in. It worked just fine so I don't know what the whole log thing was about...I guess that's for if you want nice perfect looking circle)
Sprinkle with 1 tsp chopped nuts.
Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean from the muffin part. Let cool in pans for 5 minutes, then remove to racks to cool completely. Do not touch the cream cheese until it cools.
The verdict? Pretty good! They're definitely not as sweet as they would have been originally, but they're still good in my opinion. I left some plain, put cream cheese and nuts in some, and then for the rest, I made a little frosting. I used the 4 oz cream cheese I had left, added 1/2 c powdered sugar, 2 Tbsp softened butter and dash of vanilla. Beat it together until smooth. As you can see, I only spread a little bit on the top...just enough to get a little taste of added sweetness but not enough to add a whole lot of extra calories. This batch made 3 dozen muffins!!