I had the extreme pleasure of enjoying one of these muffins at Vanessa’s (who’s cookbook I love and is hopefully soon to be a guest poster here) place in the fall. Soooooooo good. And as I was in need of some new school snack ideas (my daughter has quit eating all of our old standbys) I thought I would see if I could health this up a bit with some whole grains and way less sugar and oil. Overall, it turned out really well; easily my new go to pumpkin muffin. Plus, I had some grated zucchini sitting in my fridge, and some leftover cream cheese filling, so I tried these zucchini spice muffins and added the cream cheese filling. Great success! I think cream cheese filling could get my girls to eat anything actually. Anyway, these are a bit more work than your average muffin, though not a lot more, and they are totally worth 3 times the effort. I dare you to make them and not eat them all yourself!
Cream Cheese Filling (This should be enough to make both recipes, but if you like a lot of filling, you may want to make 1 1/2 batches):
8 0z (1 brick) light cream cheese
1/2 cup icing sugar (I might even go for 1/3 cup next time)
1/2 tsp vanilla
Using an electric mixer, beat everything together until thoroughly combined. Dump onto a large piece of plastic wrap and roll into a log inside the wrap. Place in freezer for at least 30 minutes (I did it in the morning and then made the muffins once I was home, so mine was frozen solid, but it worked just fine).
Pumpkin muffins (makes 2 dozen BIG muffins or 30 more normal sized ones):
3 cups spelt flour (or half and half whole wheat and all purpose)
1 tsp each, ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg, ground cloves, salt and baking soda
1 Tbsp plus 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 1/4 cups sugar (you may be able to reduce this a bit further, but much more and I think the spices will become overwhelming)
2 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
2/3 cup canola oil
1. Preheat oven to 350 and line your muffin tins with papers (I think these might stick without them, but try it if you have a really good non stick tin). In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour through pumpkin pie spice.
2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together eggs, sugar, pumpkin and oil until well blended. Add the dry ingredients on low speed, mixing until just combined.
3. Slice up your log of cream cheese into as many muffins as you intend to make. Place just enough muffin batter into each liner to cover the bottom ( 1-2 Tbsp). Add a slice of cream cheese filling and then fill with remaining batter.
4. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until the top springs back to a light touch (being mindful of the filling). Cool on rack and enjoy!
Zucchini Spice Muffins (this one made about 18 medium sized muffins):
3 cups spelt flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup canola oil
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups zucchini
1. Preheat oven to 350 and line or spray your muffin tins. In a large bowl, stir together flour through pumpkin pie spice.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together sugar, eggs, oil, buttermilk, vanilla and zucchini. Add to dry ingredients and stir together until just combined (this makes a fairly heavy dough, don’t worry, as the zucchini cooks it adds a lot of moisture; at this point I thought these would be the worst muffins ever, just based on the thickens of the batter).
3. Assemble the muffins as you did for the pumpkin ones; batter, filling, more batter. Bake for 18-20 minutes, then cool on rack.
PS Both recipes froze beautifully, so don’t be afraid of making the large quantities.