Ingredients:

Cream Cheese Filling:

1 - 8 ounce package (227 grams) full fat cream cheese, at room temperature

1/3 cup (65 grams) granulated white sugar

1 large egg, at room temperature (55 grams out of shell)

1/2 teaspoon (2 grams) pure vanilla extract

Pumpkin Muffins:

1 1/2 cups (195 grams) all purpose flour

1 cup (200 grams) granulated white sugar

1 teaspoon (4 grams) baking powder

1/2 teaspoon (2 grams) baking soda

1 teaspoon (2 grams) ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon (1 gram) ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon (2 grams) salt

1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, softened

2 large eggs, at room temperature (110 grams out of shell)

1 teaspoon (4 grams) pure vanilla extract

3/4 cup (170 grams) solid packed, canned pumpkin puree


Instructions:

Pumpkin Muffins: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Place your oven rack in the middle of your oven. Butter or spray each muffin cup with a non stick vegetable spray.

Cream Cheese Filling: In your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the sugar, egg, and vanilla extract and beat until creamy and smooth. Set aside while you make the muffin batter.

Pumpkin Muffins: In the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat to combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, ground spices, and salt. Add the butter, eggs, vanilla extract, and pumpkin puree. Beat the wet and dry ingredients together at medium speed until the batter is smooth and satiny, about 30-60 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Fill the muffin cups evenly (about 2/3 full) with the batter using two spoons or an ice cream scoop. Make a well in the center of the batter of each muffin and then spoon a few tablespoons of the cream cheese filling into the well. Place in the oven and bake for about 18 - 20 minutes, or until the cream cheese filling has set and the pumpkin feels springy to the touch (a toothpick inserted into the pumpkin part of the muffin will come out clean.) Place on a wire rack to cool.

Makes about 12 regular-sized muffins.


Description:

Pumpkin desserts start to enter my thoughts as soon as the heat of summer fades. Pumpkin has a sweet earthy flavor and a dense fibrous texture that is well suited for the baked goods we make during the Fall and Winter months. When you add pumpkin puree to a batter it turns it a lovely golden brown color and it also provides a moist dense texture. Sweet pumpkin desserts are usually flavored with some combination of ground spices. Normally the spices used have an aroma that is warm and fragrant. My favorites are ground cinnamon which Jill Norman in her excellent book "Herbs & Spices" describes as "a warm, agreeably sweet, woody aroma that is delicate yet intense; the taste is fragrant and warm with hints of clove and citrus". Other spices that I like are ground ginger (peppery with subtle lemon flavor) and ground cloves (rich and spicy).

A combination that has become quite popular is pumpkin and cream cheese. I like the richness and tanginess that the cream cheese provides in a pumpkin dessert. Whether it's these delicious Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins, or a Pumpkin Roll, a Pumpkin Spice Cake, a Pumpkin Cheesecake, or even Pumpkin Cupcakes frosted with a Cream Cheese Frosting.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins look pretty cool. They are similar to the Black Bottom Cupcakes only instead of a chocolate batter we use a pumpkin batter. The Pumpkin Muffin batter is really easy to make. You just 'dump' and stir all the ingredients together. Once the batter is placed in your muffin cups then you simply make a well in the center and insert a dollop of the cream cheese filling. You can even sprinkle some miniature chocolate chips or pumpkin seeds on top of the cheesecake filling if you like.

To make our lives easier instead of making our own pumpkin puree we can buy canned pure pumpkin. Just make sure you do not buy the pumpkin which already has the spices added to it. However, if you want to make your own puree start by using the smaller pumpkin varieties like Sugar Pie, Baby Bear or Cheese Pumpkin (approximately 5-7 lbs., 2 1/2 - 3 1/2 kg.). Then first cut the pumpkin in half lengthwise, remove all the seeds and stringy fibers, and then place cut-side down on a greased baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees F (177 degrees C) for approximately 45 minutes to 1 1/4 hours (depending on size) or until easily pierced with a knife. Scoop out the pulp and puree in a food processor until smooth. You do need to extract all the liquid, so strain the pumpkin through a cheesecloth lined strainer and then cool the puree before using.