Sunday, September 25, 2011
Lighter Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins
For the last couple of weeks, I've had a serious desire for all things pumpkin and had been especially wanting to bake something pumpkin related. It was driving me crazy that in all the stores I was looking at, the shelves were bare where there was supposed to be cans of the Golden Autumn Goodness. I was starting to get desperate. So it was with great enthusiasm that I spied a 3-pack of canned pumpkin from Costco last week. Snatched those babies up stat. Then the only dilemma was what to make?
After scouring recipes for pumpkin bread and pumpkin muffins, I was really frustrated. Why is it that every recipe that sounded good called for several cups of sugar and tons of oil? I just couldn't bring myself to make something that I would feel so guilty about eating. I set out to make something that tasted great but lighter and I am thrilled with the results.
By combining aspects of a couple recipes, I think I captured the best of both worlds, warm and spicy and creamy and full of the Fall flavor I was after yet a fraction of the fat and calories. Very happy indeed.
Lighter Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins:
(original recipe said it would make 24 muffins, I only got 18)
Cream Cheese Filling:
1 8 ounce brick reduced fat cream cheese (Neufchatel), softened to room temperature
1/2 cup powdered (confectioners) sugar
Lighter Pumpkin Muffin Batter:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
4 large eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract2 cups canned pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 tablespoons cold butter, cut into pieces
To prepare filling:
In a medium bowl, combine cream cheese and powdered sugar with an electric mixer until smooth. Spread on a piece of plastic wrap in a long log (about 1 1/2" wide and about 12" long). Smooth the plastic wrap around the cream cheese and reinforce the roll of cream cheese with a piece of foil. Place in the freezer and chill at least 2 hours or until firm (this is a good step to do the night before).
To prepare muffins:
Mix together all the dry ingredients (all-purpose flour through ground cloves) in a large bowl. You can also put all the dry ingredients into a large ziploc bag and shake to combine--also nice to do the night before! : ).
For streusel, mix together sugar, flour and cinnamon. Cut in butter with a pastry blender or two forks until mixture is crumbly.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and prepare muffin cups by lining with paper liners. In a medium bowl, combine sugars and eggs and stir with a whisk until smooth. Stir in vanilla, milk and vegetable oil. Stir in pumpkin puree and mix until smooth. In a large bowl, gently stir wet ingredients into the dry mixture just until combined.
Scoop batter into prepared muffin cups, filling almost completely full. Remove cream cheese log from freezer and slice into 24 equal pieces. Place one piece of frozen cream cheese into each muffin cup, pushing it down slightly into the batter. You can also smooth a little extra batter over top of the cream cheese if you prefer it to be a surprise.
Sprinkle a tiny amount of the streusel mixture over top of each muffin cup of batter. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes, until muffins are lightly browned and tops spring back when lightly touched. Transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool completely.
Recipe adapted from Annie's Eats and The Best of Cooking Light