Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins
Spring is here! Or so it seems with three days in a row in the upper 50s. I’m wearing flip flops again, my friends! And with the warm kiss of spring sunshine, I find myself distracted by thoughts of getting into the garden and going to shop for plants and seeds. While it’s a good excuse, you fine folks still deserve a new delicious post so I apologize for the delay in putting up this last week’s post. These Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins are worth the wait though.
I have this amazing local bakery just up the street from me. Driving or walking by it and the unabashed aroma that flows from its doors is like scratching that last patch of dry winter skin…it smells sooo good, but it is also torture in a way. I buy my dinner rolls there and love how they come in an old-fashioned brown paper sack that crinkles as I take it from the baker’s hand. On my last visit, I spied a gorgeous muffin in their sweets case and my instincts told me, correctly, that it was pumpkin in flavor. What intrigued me was that there was a dollop of cream cheese that had been baked into the top of the muffin. I had to try it so I naturally had it added to my paper sack. As I expected, it was incredibly moist and delicious.
While I loved the muffin from the bakery, I found myself thinking about how I might play with the recipe if I had it at my disposal. Unfortunately, though I can’t say I blame them as what they make is pure gold, the bakery doesn’t give out their recipes. So, left to my own devices with a concept floating around my head for a few days, I determined that I would make my own but increase the ratio of cream cheese per muffin as I really loved that element in the bakery’s version. I realized in the end that what I was really envisioning was a pumpkiny-remake of the traditional black bottom cupcake.
I felt sheepish taking what was probably a fairly healthy muffin concept and turning it into a rich decadent cupcake. So, I worked hard to find ways to dial down the fat and calorie content without sacrificing that gooey cream cheese indulgence that has always made black bottom cupcakes one of my favorite desserts. Initially I wasn’t all that wowed by the muffins (it really is much more of a muffin than a cupcake, though sweet and cakey still) when they came out of the oven and I had my first bite after breaking one open and letting the steam escape. But then the next day, after having sat in the fridge, the flavors and richness were much more apparent.
I suppose with spring in the air, I’ll have to give up my pumpkin-pushing ways for awhile in favor of fresh spring flavors. But I still have some puree in the freezer so there might be one last pumpkin recipe on SFTF before we all jump into the joys of fresh straight-from-the-farm vegetables again!
Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins (a.k.a. Orange Bottom Cupcakes)
A Straight from the Farm Original
1 1/2 C. all-purpose flour
1 t. baking soda
1 t. baking powder
1 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. nutmeg
1 t. salt
3/4 c. granulated or raw sugar
1 C. pumpkin
1/4 C. water
1/2 C. nonfat Greek or plain yogurt
1 t. vanilla extract
2 egg whites, at room temperature
8 oz. low-fat (but not no-fat) cream cheese, at room temperature
1/3 c. granulated sugar
1/2 t. vanilla extract
1/4 C. mini chocolate chips (optional)
To prepare batter: Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in a ziplock bag or bowl. Set aside. In a medium bowl, combine the sugar, pumpkin, water, yogurt and vanilla and whisk briskly. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix just until moistened.
To prepare filling: In a small bowl with an electric mixer, beat egg whites just until foamy. Blend in cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until smooth. If using, add chocolate chips and stir until evenly distributed.
To make cupcakes: Preheat oven with 350 F. Line cupcake or muffin pans with 24 paper or foil muffin liners. Spray lightly with nonstick cooking spray. Fill each cup about half way with batter. Top each with about a tablespoon of filling. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until tops spring back when pressed lightly with a finger. Store in a sealed container in the fridge.
(makes 1-2 dozen，depending on the size)