Although this is the second pumpkin-related recipe here on the blog, I have to admit that before this year, I used to avoid pumpkin like the plague. No joke. I guess I had bad memories of how pumpkin tasted like – my mom used to stir fry it with some soupy substance which till today I have no idea what it is. No thank you. I guess it’s also a sign that my tastebuds are maturing somewhat – I used to think brinjals (aubergines) were icky too, but I’ve come to accept them, same for salted egg yolks and sweet potatoes. I still don’t really like bitter gourds except when cooked in an omelette though.
Since the childhood aversion, I have not touched pumpkins until ironically, I was confronted with thousands of them (okay I exaggerate) when I was grocery shopping in Australia. It was autumn, almost winter, and pumpkins were in abundance. I guess one other reason why pumpkins don’t cross my mind while I’m in Singapore is probably due to the fact that our local pumpkins don’t look as endearing as say, butternut pumpkins and I grocery shop lesser here, since my mom does the cooking. (Butternut pumpkins are available locally actually, I just never noticed them before.)
So while grocery shopping in Woolies, I was completely entranced by the array of pumpkins and other squashes – there were butternut, white ones and pale yellow and green Japanese ones (sorry I don’t know the names). I decided to buy one pumpkin and take the plunge with it. So I did. I made pumpkin soup, pumpkin pie and pumpkin muffins with it. They were all delicious, and made me regret knowing pumpkin at such a late age. Boy have I missed out! When I returned to Singapore, with the taste of pumpkin still lingering in my mind, I told my mom to get me a local pumpkin for me to experiment with. I already knew what I wanted to make. When I saw these Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins posted by Annie, I immediately bookmarked them – and with some expiring cream cheese, this was the perfect thing to make. Admittedly, I have to admit that our local pumpkins taste a little ‘grassier’ or earthier than butternut pumpkins, but since we’re combining them with spices and sugar, the taste isn’t all that prominent. Do use other varieties like butternut if you want a sweeter pumpkin puree.
So, to all you pumpkin-haters, don’t say no to this superfood! Pumpkins are full of vitamin C, helping boost immunity and reducing heart disease. They are also full of fibre and are a natural source of potassium which equals to strong bones and controlled blood pressure. My dad who has high blood pressure should really eat pumpkins more often! Being orange, they contain the same antioxidants as carrots, which is thought to slow down the aging process and reverse skin damage caused by the sun. Like carrots, the vitamin A in pumpkins also promote healthy vision. Singapore being the nation with the highest density of bespectacled people, ought to promote pumpkin eating!
As the first step towards promoting pumpkin eating, I give you these pumpkin cream cheese muffins, which are bound to dispel any negative perception you had about pumpkins!
Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins
Makes 6 muffins
For the cream cheese filling:
60g cream cheese, softened
40g icing sugar
For the muffins:
90g all-purpose flour
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp ground ginger
⅛ tsp allspice
⅛ tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp baking soda
85g castor sugar
140g pumpkin puree*
100g vegetable oil
For the topping:
20g castor sugar
- About 1-2 hours before baking the muffin, begin preparing the filling. To prepare the filling, combine the softened cream cheese and icing sugar in a medium bowl and mix well until blended and smooth. Transfer the mixture to a piece of plastic wrap and shape it into a log about 2-3cm in diameter. Roll the plastic wrap tightly around the log and transfer to the freezer to chill until firm, for at least an hour.
- In another medium bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, cloves, salt and baking soda. Set aside. Combine the egg, sugar, pumpkin puree and oil (I used olive oil) and mix until well-blended. Add in the dry ingredients until just incorporated.
- To make the topping, combine the sugar, flour and cinnamon in a small bowl. Cut the butter into small pieces and cut into the dry ingredients with a fork until the mixture is coarse and resembles bread crumbs. Chill in the refrigerator until read to use.
- Fill each muffin well with a muffin cup. Pour about 1-2 tablespoons of batter into each well. Then, slice the log of cream cheese into 6 equal pieces. Place a slice of the cream cheese log in each muffin cup and continue to fill the muffin cups with the remaining muffin batter. Fill until about 60% full if you want a flat topped muffin or up to 80% if you want a domed muffin. Top each muffin with a teaspoonful (or more) of the topping.
- Preheat the oven to 170°C and bake the muffins for about 20-25 minutes, or until the tops brown. If you want to use a cake tester, make sure to poke just the side of the muffin otherwise it’ll come out with cream cheese filling. Transfer to a wire rack and cool for at least 20 minutes before consuming.
- *Note: To make your own pumpkin puree, simply slice the pumpkin into smaller chunks and steam it for about 10 minutes or until soft. Then mash it up with a fork or blend it if you wish for a smoother texture. You can also roast or microwave the pumpkin if you don’t like steaming.
- Taste: I am not a particular fan of sweet muffins, especially if they are for my breakfast, so after reducing the sugar in the original recipe, I found these muffins just sweet enough for me, especially with the cream cheese filling. I thought that I could live with slightly more ginger and cinnamon in the muffin, to make it more ‘spicy’ :]
- Texture: I felt that the muffins were a tad oily for my liking, so I would recommend reducing the oil by about 10% to 90g instead. Alternatively, in my next attempt, I would probably try to increase the pumpkin puree to 160g or more and reducing the oil by a proportionate amount to make it a healthier muffin. Nevertheless, the muffin is indeed moist, with the cream cheese filling providing that extra moistness and yumminess to an otherwise naked and ordinary muffin.
- Serving size: Original recipe calls for 24 muffins, but I quartered it to produce 6 muffins. Recipe works fine!
- Modifications: The original recipe calls for pumpkin pie spice, but being a very American item, I don’t have them in my pantry – I made do by substituting with the spices above. Pumpkin pie spice is a combination of ginger, nutmeg, clove and cinnamon. You can check out Jamie’s recipe for it which is very similar to how I substituted or you can refer to allrecipes.
- Storage: The muffins don’t store too well at room temperature (especially in our humid environment), so I’d advise storing for a maximum of one day at room temperature before storing it in the fridge for up to 3 days. I popped mine into the microwave for 10 seconds on high before consuming so that the cream cheese filling was gooey and warm.
- Would I make this again?: Definitely! Because pumpkins are in season again :]
|Am loving the super orangey batter – that’s Mother Nature’s coloring for you! For some odd reason, my cream cheese filling kinda floated up. Word to the wise – make sure to place it in the centre and not close to the top!|
|But I do like the crack which reveals the cream cheese :] And somehow I preferred the naked muffins (i.e. those without the topping) to the those with the crumble topping.|
|GAWD check this out. Deliciousness in a single muffin! Muffin is super moist and yummy!|