What better way to usher in the month of October than with a pumpkin muffin recipe?! Now that pumpkin puree is once again sprouting up on grocery store shelves, (still can’t find it? Try my recipe for homemade pumpkin puree), pretty much all I can think about is pumpkin-flavored fall goodies.
I’ve made dozens of pumpkin quick breads and muffins over the years, but my favorite recipe by far is Ellie Krieger’s. In true “Lauren form”, I tweaked her pumpkin muffins a bit to suit my preferences by:
- cutting out some of the sweetener (Ellie’s recipe calls for almost 1 cup of sweetener between the sugar and molasses… these are muffins, not cupcakes!)
- using all whole wheat pastry flour instead of half all-purpose (personally, I can’t discern a noticeable difference in texture when I use this type of flour in place of the all-purpose variety for muffins or quick breads)
I figure why not make a healthy muffin even healthier?!
As for the cream cheese filling, credit must be given to Jessica of How Sweet It Is with her Double Decker Pumpkin Bread.
I completely swooned when I saw the photos and read the description of this enticing cream cheese-stuffed pumpkin bread, and immediately had visions of pumpkin muffins with cream cheese filling.
Even when you, as the baker, know about the hidden surprise tucked into the muffins, you can still appreciate that moment when you bite into the tender spiced bread to reveal the sweet creamy filling.
Do I even have to describe how delicious these muffins are?
The aroma alone is enough to conjure images of crackling fireplaces, impossibly blue autumn skies, mugs of steaming apple cider, soft wool blankets, and flame-colored trees. The warmth of the pumpkin pie spices and the deep caramel notes from the molasses and brown sugar compliment each other beautifully in the muffins. The sweet spiced cream cheese filling is the perfect finishing touch… think of it as a healthier version of frosting tucked into each muffin.
Pumpkin Muffins with Spiced Cream Cheese Filling
adapted from and inspired by Ellie Krieger and Jessica, respectively, both linked above
makes 12 muffins
- 3 oz 1/3-less-fat neufchatel cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1 Tbsp evaporated cane juice or granulated sugar
- 1/2 tsp ground pumpkin pie spice
- canola oil cooking spray
- 2 cups sifted whole wheat pastry flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/2 cup Sucanat or packed dark brown sugar (I split the difference and used 1/4 cup of each)
- 2 Tbsp unsulfured molasses
- 1/4 cup canola oil
- 2 large eggs, lightly whisked
- 1 cup pumpkin puree
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup lowfat buttermilk
- 1/4 cup raw, unsalted pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly coat a 12-cup muffin tin with cooking spray or line with paper cups.
- In a small bowl, stir together the cream cheese, evaporated cane juice, and 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice until well mixed. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients (flour through nutmeg).
- In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, molasses, oil, and eggs until combined. Whisk in the pumpkin, vanilla, and buttermilk.
- Add dry ingredients into wet and stir just until fully moistened.
- Spoon batter into prepared muffin tin, filling each cup a little less than half way full; smooth batter with back of a spoon to even out. Spoon about 1 heaping tsp of the cream cheese mixture into the center of each cup. Top with remaining batter. Each cup will be almost completely full. Smooth tops with back of a spoon.
- Sprinkle each filled muffin cup with a few pepitas.
- Bake muffins for 20-23 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean (a bit of cream cheese clinging to the toothpick is fine, but there shouldn’t be any raw batter).
- Let the muffins cool in the muffin tin for 5 minutes. Transfer muffins to a wire rack and let cool completely.
*I am in full support of slathering any leftover spiced cream cheese onto a muffin half :).