[This recipe was originally posted in October 2010, but I have given it a couple of small tweaks, as well as taken some new photos. This fabulous muffin recipe definitely deserved to be resurrected from the archives.]
Few things go together as well as pumpkin and cream cheese. Sure there’s peanut butter and jelly, as well as peanut butter and chocolate, but warm and spicy pumpkin baked goods paired with sweet cream cheese is a match made in fall-baking heaven. Add to these muffins a pecan streusel topping and you will be hard pressed to find a better breakfast treat once the weather starts to cool down. These pumpkin-cream cheese muffins have become one of my very favorite fall breakfast items; they taste like part muffin, part cupcake, part coffee cake… all wonderful things in my book!
These muffins use a neat little trick to make sure that there is a nice little pocket of cream cheese in the middle and that it doesn’t float or spread out inside the muffins. The cream cheese filling mixture is prepared, shaped into a log and frozen for a couple of hours. When you’re ready to make the muffins, you put a little bit of batter in the muffin cups, then cut the log into even pieces and add a piece of frozen cream cheese filling, then add the remainder of the batter to the muffin cups.
These muffins, as far as I’m concerned, are truly perfect. The muffin itself is moist and tender – not too airy, not too dense or dry. The cream cheese filling is as perfect a complement as I could imagine, and the pecan streusel on top is the icing on the cake. The pecans add some crunch and the streusel delivers those amazing crumbs synonymous with muffin tops and crumb cake that I can never get enough of.
I can’t think of a more amazing fall and winter breakfast treat than these muffins. They’re indulgent, cozy, and utterly delicious.
One year ago: Roasted Pumpkin Seeds, Three Ways
Two years ago: Cook’s Illustrated Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies
Three years ago: Beer and Brown Sugar Kielbasa & Sauerkraut
Four years ago: Pumpkin Pie Bars
Five years ago: Black Bean Mushroom Burgers
Six years ago: Apple Hand Pies
Pumpkin and Cream Cheese Muffins with Pecan Streusel
Yield: 12 muffins
Prep Time: 2 hours
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 20 minutes
Fluffy spiced pumpkin muffins are filled with a cream cheese center and topped with pecan streusel.
For the Cream Cheese Filling:
4 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature
½ cup powdered sugar
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
For the Streusel:
½ cup all-purpose flour
⅓ cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ cup pecans, roughly chopped
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
For the Muffins:
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
¾ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin
½ cup + 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Make the Cream Cheese Filling In a medium bowl, stir together the cream cheese and confectioners’ sugar until smooth. Add the vanilla, and stir to combine. Form the mixture into a 12-inch log on a piece of plastic wrap, wrap it in the plastic wrap and then again in foil, and freeze for at least two hours, or until firm.
2. Make the Streusel: In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar and cinnamon. Stir in the pecans, then use a fork to mix in the melted butter, ensuring that all of the ingredients are moistened. Refrigerate while you prepare the muffins.
3. Make the Muffins: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a standard 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners; set aside.
4. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, allspice, baking soda and salt.
5. In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar, pumpkin, eggs, oil, and vanilla extract.
6. Pour the pumpkin mixture over the dry ingredients. Use a rubber spatula to gently combine the batter, mixing just until the dry ingredients are moistened.
7. Remove the cream cheese from the freezer, and divide it into 12 1-inch slices.
8. Scoop 2 to 3 tablespoons of batter into the muffin cups. Place 1 slice of the cream cheese log in the center of each cup, then divide the remaining batter evenly between the muffin cups, ensuring that the cream cheese is completely covered.
9. Sprinkle the pecan streusel on top of each muffin. Press on the streusel lightly to make sure it adheres to the batter.
10. Bake until golden, about 20 to 25 minutes. Cool in the pan for about 5 minutes, and then remove muffins to a cooling rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Let them come to room temperature before serving, or warm briefly in the microwave to take the chill off. The muffins can be wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen for up to 2 months.
(Recipe adapted from Ezra Pound Cake)