Here in the great
white north, it’s the Thanksgiving long weekend. This is one of my favourite holidays. As I mentioned in a previous post, we have a few traditions we keep on this weekend and we always look forward to them. This year, we have done a few things differently: I got our Halloween decorations up early and we took our children to see The Wiggles on their (amazing) farewell tour then went for lunch at The Old Spaghetti Factory. Things we do every year, we still did: I made some delicious pumpkin muffins and apple treats, ate a wonderful turkey dinner with our family and we still hope to sneak in a hike and a trip to the pumpkin patch before we get back into the swing of things on Tuesday.
I want to share a muffin recipe I tried this weekend. When I started baking, I didn’t like making muffins because a few mixes too many and you have ruined your muffins. I didn’t like those odds when I was young, learning the basics and eager to make batters lumpless. I didn’t know and so I would have hockey pucks instead of muffins. But, several failed attempts followed by several successful attempts taught me the importance of mixing just until your ingredients are incorporated and stopping just when you think you should go on.
I was inspired by a muffin I saw at Starbucks but I knew they wouldn’t give us their recipe. So, I took my search online. I always take recipes I find online as a guide and not as a rule. If something seems wrong to me, I will alter it. If a recipe is missing something I think is vital, I put it in. If I’m not sure, I’ll check my trusted cookbooks and see what they do in similar recipes. If you do a simple search for these muffins, you’ll see that a lot of different bloggers have tried it a lot of different ways. In some recipes the cream cheese is sweet, in some it is not, others have a lot of oil, while some try to make it as healthy as possible. Either way, it’s worth exploring all the recipes and seeing what’s different about them and what you like or don’t like. Then, if you’ve made a few muffins in your time, it’s worth trusting yourself to see what you want to do with the recipe(s) you found. I used this recipe as a guide and then tweaked it (just a little) to my liking.
The muffins were dense but moist and flavourful. If you have one for breakfast with a cappuccino, you will be fine until lunch.
And on this, our thanksgiving, I’ll leave you with what I’m grateful for, in no particular order: my children and husband, my family, my friends, my husband letting me sleep in the past two days, the basics really. That’s my shortlist anyway. I wish you and your families a happy, thankful and bountiful, thanksgiving!
Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins
- 1 1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp cloves
- 1/4 tsp all-spice
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 cup pumpkin puree (either homemade, or canned)
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1/2 cup lightly packed brown sugar
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 5 Tbsp vegetable oil
- 5 Tbsp unsweetened applesauce
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1/2 block (100 g) of cream cheese, cold
- 1 Tbsp turbinado sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
- Seeds (I used sunflower because my husband ate all my pepitos) and turbinado sugar for sprinkling on muffins
- Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a muffin tin with 12 liners.
- In a large bowl, combine the flour, spices, salt and baking soda.
- In a second bowl, combine your wet ingredients: eggs, sugars, oil, vanilla and applesauce.
- Before combining the wet and dry ingredients, prepare the cream cheese filling. Using a fork, break up the block of cream cheese and add the vanilla and sugar. It might be a little lumpy but continue working it until it is combined. Keeping the cream cheese cold ensures that it won’t just melt into the batter.
- Pour the dry ingredients onto the wet and mix with a wooden spoon only until combined. Ensure that there are no clumps of flour hidden, but don’t over mix.
- Using a large spoon or ladle, fill the muffin liners 1/4 full. Add about a tablespoon of cream cheese on top of the batter, then top with another ladle of batter until the muffins are 1/2 to 3/4s full. Try to cover the cream cheese completely. Sprinkle with sugar or seeds, if using, and bake for 35-45 minutes until the cupcakes are cooked through. Use a toothpick inserted sideways (to avoid the cream cheese) to ensure that they are cooked.
*The original recipe baked these for 22 minutes, but mine stayed in about double that to be cooked. I took out the pumpkin pie spice which she added only because pumpkin pie spice is essentially all the spices we added anyway. I used only all-purpose flour but I use an organic unbleached version I prefer and highly recommend. The original recipe’s yield was 10 muffins but I found I had enough of both portions to make 12 delicious muffins. Also, I didn’t find my muffins have a nice domed top but more a rustic feel (as in the picture) which I liked but I wonder if the original recipe I used added baking powder as well and just forgot to mention it. Next time I make these I will also add baking powder and see if that helps – I’ll let you know the results.
**Side note: If you are looking to make pumpkin puree from the abundance of pumpkins available and avoid the processed kind, simply peel and deseed a pumpkin, cut it into manageable chunks, put it in a pot with water, boil until soft and puree in a food processor until it is the same consistency as canned puree. Or, you can roast pumpkin by preheating your oven to 400F, oiling a baking sheet, cutting a pie pumpkin in half, deseeding it and placing the pumpkin cut side down on the sheet. Roast for just under an hour until tender and scoopable and place in a food processor until it is the consistency you need.