The Pantry: Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

Necessity is the mother of invention.  Isn’t that the way the saying goes?  Mother Necessity with her good intentions, Where would this country be without her inventions? Now I’m going to have that School House Rock ditty in my head all evening. To the Blu-ray player, stat.

Well, despite it being fall, I don’t know how necessary Pumpkin Muffins are, but I do know that when I tried to make PW’s Moist Pumpkin Spice Muffins (With Cream Cheese Frosting) , I discovered that I was missing some pretty vital ingredients.  No powdered sugar and no Evaporated milk.

Now, I know how to make Evaporated milk– you take what you need and simmer it down by half, being careful not to scorch the heck out of your sauce pan in the process.  It’s easy, but an extra step.  And I know how to make powdered sugar–just blend granulated sugar until it’s powdery.  Again, easy, but an extra step (that and I lack a food processor and own only the blender from h-e-double hockey sticks).  I really didn’t want to take the extra steps.  I’m sometimes lazy that way in the kitchen, despite my experimentations.

What to do, what to do?   I had a whole 3 cups of fresh pumpkin puree just waiting, begging to be used somewhere, so I started thinking….

I can’t make the cream cheese frosting, but cream cheese and pumpkin sounds so good, and I don’t want to make pumpkin cheesecake.  I want muffins.  Hmmm.  Cream cheese in the muffins.  I wonder how that would work?

And with that I started experimenting.

I mixed the pumpkin and cream cheese together, but it didn’t have the flavor I wanted.  I thought the flour mixture, of course, would impart the spiciness, but there was a richness that seemed to be missing, so I tossed in some brown sugar and molasses.  That was good, but a bit too wet, so I tweaked here and there, and behold, I came up with the following recipe that I feel is just different enough to call my own,  my Precious….wait, what?

And this, my dear friends, this is a keeper.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

Ingredients:

1 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/2 cup sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1- 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

4 tablespoons butter, cut in small pieces

1 cup pumpkin puree

2- 1/2 ounces cream cheese, softened

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 tablespoon molasses

1 large egg

1- 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Optional Add-Ins:  raisins (I sprinkled about 10-15 per muffin), crushed walnuts, toasted coconut, and crushed pecans

Directions:

1.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Line and/ or grease muffin tin.  I lined mine with aluminum baking cups and greased those.  I really didn’t want them to stick, and I hate trying to clean my muffin tins.

2.  In a large bowl, whisk together  the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg until combined.  You can sift it if you want to, but whisking until combined is just fine.

3.  Pour flour into bowl of stand mixer, add butter, and blend together.  Mine came out really fine, not crumbly at all.  I don’t know why, but it worked for me.  Transfer the flour mixture back to original bowl.

4.  In bowl of stand mixture, combine pumpkin and cream cheese at medium speed.  Add brown sugar and molasses, then egg and vanilla extract just until ingredients are combined.  I could have done this by hand, but I’ll take any excuse to break out my mixer.

5.  Spoon mixture into muffin cups until they are around 3/4 or more full.(I don’t know why I didn’t take a picture here–or, honestly, when I was mixing up the other ingredients.  I think I was just worried that I was going to miss an ingredient that I was haphazardly adding to the mix.)

6.  Bake for 20 minutes.  Remove from oven and allow to cool.

The Add-Ins:

The first six on the left are just plain pumpkin-cream cheese.  The next at the top is pecan, below that coconut-walnut, and below that is raisin-coconut-walnut.  The last row top two are raisin only, with the final muffin raisin and pecan.  After I took this picture (which was taken only so I could remember which one was what (we have coconut haters in the house), I swirled the add-ins around in the cups with a knife.

Next time I make this, I’ll make half plain and half raisin.  The rest are okay, but those two stand out as the best. Oh, and skip the pecan.  It just wasn’t….right.

The raisin ones, especially when immediately out of the oven, had a dense, almost creamy texture.  It wasn’t heavy, though.  It was almost reminiscent of pumpkin pie.

But the plain pumpkin ones had a really pleasant moist texture that was neither too dry, nor overly wet–especially the day after.

These are sooooooooo good.

Yield: 12 muffins

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