Fall is finally here. Welcome back, crock pot. Hello, dutch oven. And of course, a big and hearty hug for one of the absolute favorite friends of fall, pumpkin. For the next three months, we will be consuming as many pumpkin infused items as possible. Breads, raviolis, lattes and cookies have all been a part of the pumpkin love. But perhaps my favorite pumpkin creation so far this year is these Pumpkin Bottom Muffins. (The more delicious, kid-friendly version of apple bottom jeans).
These muffins are inspired by my mom's infamous Black Bottom Cupcakes. Something about that delicious cream cheese center in the middle of the rich, sweet bread is just too scrumptious. So to make them seasonal, pumpkin has come in to pinch hit for the traditional chocolate. Additionally, we've turned these into breakfast rather than dessert. But for two very good reasons:
1) I prefer muffins to cupcakes.
2) I think my pumpkin bread recipe is the best of all time.
Any muffin is basically an individual serving size of a quick bread. In this two foodie household, we very often half or even quarter quick bread recipes and make muffins instead. Why have an entire apple sheet cake or three loaves of banana bread when you could just have four extra large muffins? Sure, it might save you making breakfast over the week, but I like to mix up my morning meal.
My only "disappointment" with this recipe is the fact that it does not have the sunken cream cheese middle of its inspiration. But please note the deliberate quotes...in the end, I could care less about the middle. I found myself left with a moist, healthy pumpkin muffin with mild spice and sweetness, complete with a savory, creamy cap of cream cheese. Add a few cinnamon chips and I was in fall heaven.
And of course, it wouldn't be one of my recipes if I didn't mention the health factor. Whole Wheat flour, reduced fat cream cheese, applesauce instead of oil and lots of good spices for your digestion. Eat one daily in the fall for a happy, healthy tummy.
Pumpkin Bottom Muffins (22-24 muffins)
For the Pumpkin Bread:
- 1 3/4 c whole wheat flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon (use 1 tsp for milder flavor)
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp each clove & ginger (optional, but recommended)
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 c unsweetened applesauce
- 1 c sugar
- 1 c pumpkin
- 1/4 cinnamon chips
For the Cream Cheese topping:
- 4 oz reduced fat or fat free cream cheese
- 1 egg white
- 3 tbs sugar
- dash salt
Start by making your cream cheese topping. Add all ingredients in a small bowl and cream together well. Cover with plastic wrap and place back in the refrigerator so it stays cool. You'll pull it back out later.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and spices. Stir together, then set aside. In a large bowl, add the eggs, applesauce and sugar. Whisk together until well blended. Add the pumpkin and dry ingredients and mix until just combined. At this point, you can pull your cream cheese mixture back out of the refrigerator.
Spray a muffin tin with non-stick or line with metal cupcake liners. Fill each cup 1/2 full of pumpkin batter, leaving a well in the middle. Scoop 1/2 tablespoon of the cream cheese filling into the well of each muffin. Sprinkle each muffin with a few cinnamon chips. Bake for 15-18 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the pumpkin muffin (not the cream cheese!) Let cool in the pan for 2 minutes, then remove to a cooling rack or directly to your mouth.