Annalyn came home from preschool on Thursday, excited to tell me that, “Tomorrow is the first day of fall!” I know why I’m excited (cooler temperatures, colorful, crunchy leaves, jeans and boots), but I wasn’t sure why she was so worked up.

I suspect it has as much to do with the fact that she simply likes to be emotional, regardless of the reason, as it does the fact that October holds her birthday, an upcoming family vacation and Halloween.

So, to celebrate the new season, we (okay, I) turned to Pinterest, where I found a cute finger painting project and a delicious recipe for pumpkin muffins. Falling leaves and pumpkin – the ultimate signs of fall, right?

I must tell you, by the way, that at least half the recipes I find myself repinning on Pinterest lead me to Annie’s Eats. She has tons of delicious-looking recipes, and I have a growing list I want to try! (As a matter of fact, when I went to grab her URL just now, I had to pin her new post for oven-fried onion rings. Yum!)

I’ve been excited to try out these pumpkin cream cheese muffins for weeks now, and I’m glad I had the chance this weekend. The muffin and the topping are AWESOME. I’m not personally partial to cream cheese in sweets, so I actually don’t love that part. But overall, these muffins are a great fall treat. (So great, in fact, that I’m taking the bulk of them to Annalyn’s preschool today, because there’s no way I can have them in the house and not gobble them up!)

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

Filling Ingredients:
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 cup powdered sugar

Muffin Ingredients:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tbsp plus 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
4 eggs
2 cups sugar
2 cups pumpkin puree
1¼ cups vegetable oil

Topping Ingredients:
½ cup sugar
5 tbsp flour
1½ tsp ground cinnamon
4 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces

Two hours before you want to make the muffins, mix the filling. Place it in plastic wrap in the shape of a log, wrap it again in foil, and stick it in the freezer to firm up. When you’re ready to make the muffins, preheat the oven to 350, mix dry and wet ingredients separately, and then combine.

I had a little trouble with the topping. You’re supposed to mix the dry ingredients with the butter pieces until the whole thing is a crumbly streusel-type consistency. My butter didn’t work that way, though. However, it didn’t seem to matter, because no matter what shape it is when you put it on the muffin, the butter melts during baking and the sugar mixture stays on top. So, in summary, don’t stress about the topping. It will be fine.

Also, don’t stress if you don’t have cloves. I didn’t have cloves and my muffins were plenty flavorful.

To assemble the muffins, cover the bottom of 24 muffin cups with batter. Then put 1/24 of the cream cheese log in the cup, and cover it with more batter. Spoon a little bit of the topping on each muffin, and then bake for 20-25 minutes.

These muffins definitely take more time and effort (and planning) than other recipes, but for a special treat, I think it’s worth it!

Tell me: What do you think of cream cheese? Is it a good addition to sweet treats? Or do you (like me) prefer it to stay on bagels?

This post will be linked to Mouthwatering Monday, Tasty Tuesday, Tuesdays at the Table, Tempt My Tummy Tuesday, 33 Shades of Green, Sweet Tooth Friday and Foodie Friday. It will also be linked to Ingredient Spotlight at Eat at Home.

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