Monday, September 24, 2012

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

Pumpkin muffins loaded with warm autumn spices and a delicious cream cheese center.  The epitome of fall! The type of recipe you make yourself and realize tastes much better than the coffee shop version! Behold:

Pumpkin Muffins filled with cream cheese

This is another of those classic autumn recipes that we have seen making the rounds on Pinterest, so we pounced on the very first cool weather day to make these beauties.  We found lots of very similar versions of this recipe online (Annie’s Eats and See Brooke Cook to name two).  Let me tell you about how we’ve simplified them, just for discussion’s sake.

First of all, most recipes call for you to form the sweetened cream cheese into a log, wrap it in plastic, freeze it, then slice off medallions to plop into the center of the muffins.  The honest reason we didn’t do this is because we were too far along when we actually read this part of the recipe.  Oops, totally my fault.  I am the non-meticulous one.  We were so sad, thinking that our muffins would be a mess when they came out of the oven.  But they weren’t – the filling didn’t melt away and it all turned out quite beautifully. Whew!

process of construction pumpkin cream cheese muffins

Next, most recipes called for the inclusion of both “pumpkin pie spice” as well as most of the individual components of pumpkin pie spice. We found this confusing and also we don’t keep pumpkin pie spice on hand, so we broke the spice mixture down into its basic parts (cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and clove).  This is nice and flexible – feel free to ad lib here; it will be OK if you leave a few out as long as you keep the cinnamon.

The other thing we did was reduce the sugar and oil in this recipe.  Now – you know us, and it wasn’t for health reasons but instead for taste reasons.  Many comments on the original recipes said the muffins were overly oily, so we reduced it a smidge. Then we started thinking that 1/2 cup sugar combined with 4 oz cream cheese would result in an uber-sweet filling, so we chopped the sugar amount in half. Last but not least, 1 cup of sugar in a recipe for 12 muffins seemed like a lot, so we reduced that to 3/4 cup and were very happy with the results.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins with cheese peeping out

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

Yield 12 muffins

Cream Cheese Filling

  • 4 oz cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup sugar

Whip together cream cheese and sugar very well.  We’ve done this with a fork, a hand mixer, and a food processor – anything works.  When it is all combined, pop it back in the fridge to stay cold while you prep the rest of the muffins.  Having this mixture as cool as possible will prevent the cream from melting away too much during baking.  The results in the picture were created with the cream mixture left at room temperature, though, so don’t worry too much about this cooling step!


  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda

Our own version of “Pumpkin Pie Spices”; feel free to ad lib a little based on what you have on hand.  Nothing is essential other than the cinnamon.

  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp cloves

Mix the sugar, oil, pumpkin, and eggs together very well in a large mixing bowl.  Then plop the flour, baking soda, and pumpkin pie spices on top of this blended wet mixture.  Stir well to incorporate and fully mix everything together. 

Line muffin tins with paper cups, or lightly oil them. Spoon about 1-2 Tablespoons of batter into the bottom of each muffin.  We used a regular dinner spoon – heaping – to do this.  Make sure this batter is spread thinly and evenly across the bottom of each muffin tin.  I whacked mine flat on the counter a few times to accomplish this.

Next, distribute a spoonful (approx 1 Tablespoon) of the cream cheese filling in each.

Finally, evenly distribute the remainder of the batter over the top of the cream cheese.  Approx 2-3 Tablespoons each is what we came out with.

Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes.  Let cool before you eat them, unless you are ready to deal with molten cream cheese!

pumpkin cream cheese muffins

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