Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Cake of the Week: LLC's Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

Cake for breakfast is frowned upon, but luckily muffins are the ultimate cake loophole. And Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins incorporate an extra decadent cheesecake component that makes me swoon, just a little bit. 

If you sit down at the breakfast table next to your roommate/spouse/mama with a slab of frosted awesomeness I guarantee that someone will say something.

But if you sit down with a muffin, you’re just a normal person starting your normal day. (No matter how decadent, a muffin is a muffin, and I will not let anyone convince me otherwise.)

These muffins are an LLC creation and they are divine - pumpkin-y and spicy, with a cream cheese filling and streusel on top.  LLC doubled the spices, making them taste almost ginger-bread-ish with a pumpkin twist.

Friday night she delivered a tin-full to my apartment, and I’m not going to lie…I ate 2 a day (breakfast and dessert) until they were gone. She’s got to stop doing that to me! My life is so hard…

I feel slightly less cake-for-breakfast-guilt because she made some substitutions to health-ify them: whole wheat flour, applesauce, less oil, etc. But don't let that fool you - these muffins could qualify as cake and I'm a-okay with that!

LLC’s Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins
Makes 24 muffins

For the filling:
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
For the muffins:
  • 3 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 can pumpkin puree (15 oz)
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • ½ cup applesauce

For the topping:
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 5 tablespoons flour
  • 1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces

To prepare the filling, combine the cream cheese and powdered sugar in a medium bowl and mix well until blended and smooth. Transfer the mixture to a piece of plastic wrap and shape into a log about 1½-inches in diameter. Smooth the plastic wrap tightly around the log, and reinforce with a piece of foil. Transfer to the freezer and chill until at least slightly firm, at least 2 hours. The mixture will still be somewhat soft but firmer. (I did do this, because of Abby's description of needing another set of hands when she tried to do a recipe like this. I'm not convinced that it was very necessary because the cream cheese didn't get much firmer. I think whipping it together and putting the bowl in the fridge or freezer while you do the rest would be sufficient.)

To make the muffins, preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Line muffin pans with paper liners. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, pumpkin pie spice, salt and baking soda; whisk to blend. In the bowl of an electric mixer combine the eggs, sugar, pumpkin puree and oil. Mix on medium-low speed until blended. With the mixer on low speed, add in the dry ingredients, mixing just until incorporated. (Clearly I didn’t use an electric mixer but whatever)

To make the topping, combine the sugar, flour and cinnamon in a small bowl; whisk to blend. Add in the butter pieces and cut into the dry ingredients with a pastry blender or two forks until the mixture is coarse and crumbly. I always get inpatient here and mix it together with my hands so that it looks like the texture of wet sand. I know you aren't supposed to do it this way but I'm impatient. Transfer to the refrigerator to chill until ready to use.

To assemble the muffins, fill each muffin well with a small amount of batter, just enough to cover the bottom of the liner (1-2 tablespoons). Slice the log of cream cheese filling into 24 equal pieces. Place a slice of the cream cheese mixture into each muffin well. You want to put the cream cheese lower than you think because it will rise a lot during the baking process. Divide the remaining batter among the muffin cups, placing on top of the cream cheese to cover completely. Sprinkle a small amount of the topping mixture over each of the muffin wells.

Bake for 20-25 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely before serving. I like them warm, cold, and room temperature.