Just the other day, my husband and I were at Costco, and I was super tempted to purchase these trees for our mantel when the holiday season is here. I’m always a little eager to decorate for the holidays (if it were up to me, I’d have everything up in mid-November), but I held back from purchasing them.
Out here, it still feels summer-ish. We had a quick cool blast of weather this past weekend, which was a sweet relief. I took most of the day to weed the gardens,
combat dodge wasp nests (OMG, the wasps this year), add new pine straw and add pretty new annuals for the upcoming seasons. It was nice to be out there, and for once, not really feel the effects of being outside until the next day (yeah, my legs were sore for two days after all of that..). However, once Monday hit, we were back to ridiculously humid days and highs in the mid to upper 80s. I rebelled with pumpkin spice coffee, but no dice. Still humid and gross outside. :-\
Oh, and we also decorated for Halloween. I totally forgot just how many decorations we purchased after Halloween last year haha! Pulling all of the Christmas decorations from the attic is going to be a surprise for sure, because I know we ransacked stores once things got to be 75% off last January.
Even though it’s practically summer outside, I’m still cracking open cans of pumpkin. In fact, one of my husband’s coworkers was sweet enough to bring him pumpkin puree, since they get a lot of what I bake in the kitchen. I sent him to work with a batch of pumpkin snickerdoodles and half of these muffins (I need to bring something for my coworkers, too!)
This is a twist of the popular Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins that are typically seen in a certain coffee shop during the fall, and while the twist is subtle, oh man…it MAKES these muffins! Instead of filling with a plain, sweetened cream cheese, I decided to add in some espresso powder (since I’m ALL about the pumpkin spice coffee lately) with a little bit of cinnamon as well. The dozen muffins that I brought to work didn’t even make it to the break room table! (If my coworkers see me with an aluminum tin, they know some baked goodness is hiding underneath the foil.) While these muffins do take a few steps more than normal muffins (due to the layering of the batter/cream cheese/batter/streusel topping), it’s definitely worth it.
For the filling:
- 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
- 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
- 1/2 tbsp. espresso powder
- 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
For the muffins:
- 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 large eggs
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 cups pumpkin puree
- 1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
For the streusel topping:
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 5 tbsp. flour
- 1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 4 tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
- Optional: roasted pumpkin seeds
- To make the filling, mix the cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar, espresso powder and cinnamon together in a medium-sized bowl, until the ingredients are well-mixed and the mixture is smooth. Place a large piece of plastic wrap on the counter, and transfer the mixture to the plastic wrap. Shape the mixture into a 1 1/2 inch diameter log, and then wrap the cream cheese mixture tightly with the plastic wrap. Then, wrap the plastic wrap with foil, and place the cream cheese mixture in the freezer, for at least 2 hours (making sure the log is at least slightly firm before using for the muffins).
- Once the filling is ready, make the muffins. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare two muffin pans by lining them with cupcake/muffin liners and set aside. In a medium-sized bowl, add the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, pumpkin pie spice, salt and baking soda. Whisk the dry mixture well.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, add the eggs, sugar, pumpkin puree and oil. Mix the wet ingredients on medium-low speed, until well-mixed. Turn the mixer on low speed, and add in the dry ingredients, mixing everything together until just incorporated. Set aside.
- To make the topping, add the sugar, flour and cinnamon in a small-sized bowl. Whisk the dry ingredients well. Add in the butter cubes, and using a pastry blender or two forks, cut the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture is coarse and crumbly. (Keep this mixture in the fridge if you aren’t immediately baking the muffins.)
- Assemble the muffins by filling each liner with about 1-2 tbsp. of muffin batter, making sure to just cover the bottom of the muffin liner. Take the cream cheese log out of the freezer, and slice it into 24 equal slices. Place a slice of the espresso cream cheese mixture into each liner, on top of the just placed muffin batter. Divide the rest of the muffin batter among the muffin liners (until about 2/3 of the way full), being sure to completely cover the cream cheese slices. Lastly, sprinkle the streusel mixture (as well as the pumpkin seeds, if you wish) over each of the muffins.
- Bake the muffins for 20-25 minutes, and then transfer the muffins to a wire rack to allow to completely cool. Note: DO NOT consume these muffins until they are completely cool, because the cream cheese will be ridiculously hot on the inside after baking. Enjoy!