Cheesecake-Stuffed Pumpkin Cranberry Muffins

Just when you thought breakfast couldn’t be more decadent, I bring you my legendary Pumpkin Cranberry Muffins…but stuffed with cheesecake.  Yes…cheesecake.  It sounds complex, but it couldn’t be more simple.  These muffins come together in about 15-20 minutes and bake in another 20.  Less than an hour of work, and you’ve got what many people have told me is the most delicious muffin they’ve ever eaten!

First, prep the cheesecake filling.  In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine:

1 8-oz package cream cheese
1/2 cup white sugar
1 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 egg

Beat until smooth and set aside.  In a large bowl, combine:

3 1/2 cups all purpose unbleached flour
1 Tbsp cinnamon
1 Tbsp ground ginger
2 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp nutmeg
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt

Stir with your fingers until well mixed.  In a separate bowl, combine:

1 1/2 cups light brown sugar, firmly packed
1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree (canned is okay, to make homemade pumpkin puree, cut a pumpkin in half and place it cut side down on a baking sheet or plate.  Roast at 350F or microwave until soft, puree in a blender or food processor, spread on a bath towel to soak up excess moisture, then use the towel to “fold” up the puree into a pile and dump it into a bowl)
1/2 cup buttermilk (substitute 1/4 cup yogurt or sour cream mixed with 1/4 cup milk, or 1/2 cup milk plus 1 tsp white vinegar)
1/2 cup canola oil (any oil is okay)
1/3 cup molasses (or dark cane syrup)
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
3 eggs

Whisk together until smooth.  Then add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon until all the dry flour is absorbed.  The batter will still be a bit lumpy.  Don’t over-stir or you’ll end up with tough muffins!  Then fold in:

1 cup dried cranberries, or fresh cranberries in season

Spoon about a Tablespoon of batter into the bottom of paper-lined muffin tins.  Then place about 2 teaspoons of the cheesecake mixture in the center.  The finish filling the tins just below the top of the cup rim:

Step 1

Step 2

This recipe will yield 18-24 cupcakes depending on how you fill each tin.  If you end up with empty tins, add half a cup of water to each cup to prevent the pan from warping in the hot oven.

Bake in a preheated 400F oven for about 20 minutes.  If the muffins begin to brown excessively, but are not done in the middle when you pierce them with a knife or toothpick, lower the temperature to 350F and continue baking until the muffins test done (ie, the toothpick comes out clean with no streaks of wet batter).

Cool fully before gorging!