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Better than Starbucks Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

We had a family brunch this past weekend, and my sister made pumpkin muffins – the kind with the cream cheese in the middle. They were better than the ones at Starbucks – moist, sweet and mildly spiced – a total hit. She left some plain, for the kids who didn’t like the cream cheese filling (unbelievable, but it happens), and they were divine too – the perfect nibble with our morning coffee. I took a few home to wrap and freeze for school lunches this week, although I may not be able to part with them. Then again, they’re easy to make, even with the cream cheese filling, and a perfect treat for this time of year – I already have plans to mix up another batch.

Although I used canned pumpkin puree – easy to find and often on sale at this time of year – you could use mashed roasted pumpkin, squash or sweet potato instead.

These are moist, tender and sweet enough to count as cupcakes – with the added benefit of coming out of the oven pre-decorated, there’s no need for frosting. But if you did add a swirl of vanilla frosting, it would leave the cream cheese hidden – almost like a filled cupcake.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

With thanks to my sister, and her friend who shared the recipe!

Cream Cheese:
6 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
2 Tbsp. flour

Muffins:
1 14 oz. (398 ml) can pumpkin puree
1 cup sugar
1 cup canola oil
1 large egg
3 cups flour (all-purpose, whole wheat or a combination)
1 Tbsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt

Preheat the oven to 350F.

In a small bowl, stir together the cream cheese, sugar, egg and flour until well-blended and smooth.

To make the muffins, mix the pumpkin, sugar, oil and egg in a large bowl. In another bowl, stir together the dry ingredients; add to the pumpkin mixture and stir just until combined.

Fill the muffin cups about 3/4 full with batter; use the handle of a wooden spoon to make a little hole in center of each and drop in a small spoonful of the cream cheese mixture. If you like, sprinkle with coarse sugar. Bake for 25 minutes, or until springy to the touch. Makes 1 1/2 dozen muffins.

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