Lately it has been a lot harder to get out of bed in the mornings. It sounds depressing when I say it like that, but what I actually mean is in our corner of the tropics we’re finally entering our version of autumn/winter. The “seasons” have gone from sweltering summer heat to insane downpours of rain and flooding, and now we’re at the glorious bed weather time of the year. My favourite!!!
Of course it’s still hot since this is a tropical country after all, but it is considerably cooler than usual. The nights are longer too, and there are evenings I would only need an open window because there is a chill in the air already. This only means Christmas is truly around the corner, and other parts of the world are celebrating my favourite season of all– autumn.
I’m a bit sad that once again I experience autumn this year through baking only, and at the same time I’m happy I get to discover these fall treats I otherwise wouldn’t notice. The last couple of years I made some of my favourite recipes during this period, and some of them involved the lovely orange pumpkin.
It wasn’t until I started baking that I became more accepting of having veggies in my baked goods. Carrots were fine, and I was hesitant about zucchini but that turned out well too. Eventually I decided to try pumpkin treats and let’s just say I have another point to add to my list of ‘Reasons why I love food blogging’. And these muffins? They definitely deserve to be on that list too!
Because muffins are typically forgiving, you can experiment with different types of flours when you make them. For these muffins, I used half all-purpose flour and half whole wheat pastry flour. The resulting texture and crumb was fantabulous! Soft and moist and beautiful. Substituting applesauce for most of the oil upped the healthiness factor for these muffins as well.
These muffins also aren’t too sweet but they have the unmistakable fragrance of the spices mixing with the sweet smell of pumpkin. The addition of the crumble was a nice touch because it added this slight buttery crunch to the muffins. I really think these wouldn’t be as good without the crumb topping. But the nicer surprise is the sweet cream cheese filling, which has its savory-saltiness evened out by a dollop of honey. It went perfectly with the muffin!
makes about 24 muffins
- 8 ounces cream cheese (reduced fat is fine), at room temperature
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 3 cups white whole wheat flour *
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 4 large eggs
- 1½ cups sugar
- 2 cups pumpkin puree
- 1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
- 3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
- 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour or white whole wheat flour
- 7 tablespoons old-fashioned rolled oats
- 3 tablespoons turbinado (coarse) sugar
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 3 tablespoons cold butter, cut into pieces
- 1. Combine the cream cheese and honey in a bowl. Whisk or beat with an electric mixer until smooth. Set aside. (If even amounts of filling is desired, transfer to a pastry bag. Pipe into 24 equal dollops onto a parchment-covered baking sheet. Freeze until firm, at least 3 hours or overnight.)
- 2. Preheat the oven to 350˚F (180˚C). Line muffin pans with paper liners.
- 3. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, pumpkin pie spice, salt and baking soda; whisk to blend.
- 4. In another bowl, combine the eggs, sugar, pumpkin puree, oil and applesauce. Whisk until well-blended.
- 5. Using a spatula, fold in the dry ingredients, mixing just until incorporated. There may still be some streaks of flour left and that is fine. Avoid overmixing the batter to attain a beautiful dome-shaped muffin.
- 6. Combine the flour, oats, sugar, and cinnamon in a small bowl; whisk to blend. Add in the butter pieces and cut into the dry ingredients with a pastry blender or two forks until the mixture is coarse and crumbly. Place in the refrigerator until ready to use.
- 7. Fill each muffin well with a small amount of batter, just enough to cover the bottom of the liner. Depending on the size of your muffin tin, this may range from 1/2 Tablespoon to 2 Tablespoons. Place a dollop of the cream cheese mixture into each muffin well (about 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons if the piping and freezing method above was not used). Divide the remaining batter among the muffin cups, placing on top of the cream cheese to cover completely.
- 8. Sprinkle a small amount of the topping mixture over each of the muffin wells. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely before serving as the cream cheese filling gets very hot fresh out of the oven.
- Storage: Muffins can be kept up to 2 days in an airtight container at room temperature. Refrigerate to make them last longer and heat as needed.
- * I used a combination of 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour and 1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour.
- Where to buy: For my Philippine readers, you can buy canned pumpkin puree from Uni-Mart or Metro Supermarkets. Mott's bottled applesauce can be found in the International aisle of SM Supermarkets. Meanwhile, Healthy Options carries a variety of whole wheat flours.
These are one of my favourite muffins to date, coming only a close second to the Apple Pie Muffins I previously made, which remains unbeaten at the top stop.
This year I am in a mood to bake up a storm with pumpkin. Gorgeous colour aside, I love how pumpkin pumps up the autumn factor in food and baked goods. Must be how orange it turns things. Autumn foods have a way of giving off this warm and cozy feel and taste– perfect for ushering in that Christmas mood! In my experience it’s a pretty good way of picking up the holiday cheer.
Tell me who wouldn’t enjoy eating these for breakfast everyday!?