even though autumn began back in september, i continue to fall more and more in love with it as the season progresses. all of the seasons have their positives and negatives, but to me fall has some of the greatest positives– there is just this great feeling in the air! the smells of fresh apple and pumpkin goods, the beautiful colors of the leaves, having the windows and sliding doors open while a football game is on, walking on a collegiate campus like princeton, and my favorite part: being able to wear sleeves while also not freezing. see, i am very sensitive to the heat. at 75 degrees anything with sleeves is no longer an option for me, yes, even short sleeves. however, in the winter it is always so cold and dark out, and while i enjoy ice skating, sledding, snowboarding/skiing, and all the holiday treats, it gets in the way of doing a lot of things. fall though… fall is great.
fall is so great that i am disregarding the overripe bananas on my counter for today and decided to make something nice and pumpkiny. i got rave reviews on the black bottom cupcakes that i made, so i decided to go with a pumpkin cream cheese muffin. there were many to choose from, but i of course went with the one covered in streusel, because, well, i love streusel and would put it atop just about any baked good. i did consider making pumpkin whoopie pies, but i think the whoopsters will have to wait a little longer.. though perhaps i will make banana whoopie pies this week with those soon to be rotten bananas.
as someone who enjoys fall spices, i think these muffins are wonderful! if you are not someone that enjoys fall spices, i would suggest cutting back a little bit on the spices called for. i have to admit, i dont like cream cheese, but these have just the right amount. it is almost like they have a little bit of frosting on the inside (thanks to the sugar), which works for me! i also think they are perfectly moist, and although somewhat more desserty than a typical breakfast muffin, reminiscent of pumpkin bread and therefore a favorite of mine!
side note: i apparently am very consistent in my clumsiness, as i keep burning my arm on the oven in the same spot. i think i now have three scars on top of each other.
Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins
Yield: 24 muffins
For the muffins:
3 cups flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. ground cloves
1 tbsp. and 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 ¼ cups vegetable oil
2 cups sugar
2 cups pumpkin puree
For the filling:
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
For the streusel topping:
½ cup sugar
¼ cup and 1 tsp. flour
4 tbsp. butter, cubed
1 ½ tsp. cinnamon
To prepare the filling, combine the cream cheese and powdered sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and whip until smooth. Form into a log on plastic wrap or foil, making sure that the diameter is small enough to fit into the well of a muffin pan. Wrap the log up tightly and freeze until slightly hardened, 1-2 hours.
To make the muffins, combine the flour, spices, salt and baking soda in a medium bowl. Mix well and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the eggs, vegetable oil, sugar and pumpkin puree. Mix until well combined. Add in the dry ingredients and mix on low speed until just combined.
To make the streusel topping, combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Mix together with a pastry blender or two forks until crumbly.
Preheat the oven to 350°. Line two muffin pans with paper liners. To assemble the muffins, fill each muffin well halfway with batter. Remove the cream cheese log from the freezer and slice into 24 equal slices. Place a slice in each muffin well. Divide the remaining muffin batter evenly among the muffin cups, on top of the cream cheese. Sprinkle the streusel topping over the top of the batter. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Let cool completely before serving.
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