Do not let these awful, messy photos deter you. These jumbo cheesecake stuffed pumpkin muffins with toffee pecan streusel are one of the best things you will ever wrap your mouth around.
That said, once again I come armed with pumpkin, cheesecake, and a squeeze bottle of chocolate ganache, which is a combination you’ve seen on my blog twice in the past month, from pie to these muffins. Not to mention pumpkin nutella snickerdoodle bars, pumpkin povitica, and pumpkin gnocchi. Five pumpkin recipes in a little over a month.
Pumpkin Sage Sweet?
I told you I wasn’t done with pumpkin.
Actually, I made these back in October, but was going to make them again because I made a small mistake which led to an aesthetic issue with me. This is the life of a food blogger; if it ain’t pretty, you hem and haw and sometimes make it again, even if it’s perfectly delicious and the last thing you need is another batch of whatever you made hanging around for you to consume.
People eat with their eyes when they look at food blogs, so it’s up to the food blogger to put out as pretty and mouth-watering a photo as he/she can get.
In my case, that’s not an easy task. The cheaper artificial lighting is not kind to the details that make one’s mouth water. BUT, I do my best, and I do have that small, patch of dim sunlight I just found, As I mentioned above, these photos were shot weeks ago, before my mediocre ‘light patch’ discovery, which needs a lot of futzing with before I decide that either A) The small amount of light is not worth the blur since I can’t fit a tripod in that area, and it needs a tripod even more than my artificial lighting, (although I’m still afraid of tripods)! or B) I start to experience physical pain from twisting my body into unnatural positions just to get a good shot in this small nook.
Having said all that, my mistake, which I will get to in a moment, led to messy muffin tops, except for one.
I finally decided not to make a new batch and post as is. I just couldn’t have another few of these muffins tempting me, all in the name of perfectly beautiful muffins for my blog.
I cobbled these muffins together using a recipe for Jumbo Pumpkin Pecan Streusel muffins from Taste of Home that I like, minus the pecans in the muffin batter, but doubled the streusel and added chopped chocolate covered toffee to it. I used some homemade toffee in the freezer, from this recipe, but you can use chopped Skor or Heath bars if you like.
We all love muffin tops. It’s the stumps that get the raw end of the deal. If there’s nothing in the stumps (chocolate chips, nuts..fillings), they’re usually kind of boring, and I’m sure there’s been times your stumps have ended up in the trash. The big, fluffy muffin tops are always the star, and usually pretty filling, so the stumps are a 50/50 deal. Eat or chuck – unless you can wrangle up a ‘Cleaner’.
Here’s the part I really love. I filled my stumps, but not only filled them, REALLY filled them. You don’t get that usual one bite circle of filling in these; these muffins are loaded; every bite of the stump containing creamy cheesecake. There’s one full-proof, fantastic way to do this, one that doesn’t involve a spoon, which can lead to a messy batter ‘plop and splatter’, and not that much filling once baked. OR, you don’t bake them first, then cut a gaping hole in the top or bottom, basically emptying out the stump then piping in a cooked or eggless cheesecake whip, and plugging the hole with the jagged, crumbly part you cut out. Annoying.
Kind of looks like bacon streusel, doesn’t it? Although I think that’s an idea waiting to happen, it’s the chocolate toffee melted on the streusel crumb.
This is what you do, and I got this brilliant idea from Chef Dennis from A Culinary Journey via his exquisite Black and White Muffins. You fill a pastry bag with the infamous 1 bar of cream cheese ‘cheesecake recipe’ of no known or definitive origin. Next, you fill your jumbo muffin cups half way with the pumpkin batter and then stick that cheesecake batter filled pastry bag with a plain tip, or a ziplock bag with an end snipped off, smack dab in the middle of the pumpkin muffin batter and squeeeeeze…
…squeeeeze until that pumpkin batter rises in the muffin well almost to the top (about 2/3 to 3/4’s full.).
Here’s where I messed up, but didn’t really mess up because it’s a question of…
To dome or not to dome?
Do you see that little white circle of cheesecake in the middle of the pumpkin batter in the demo photos? If you do not cover it with more pumpkin batter, the toffee streusel will sink into it, as you see in most of my photos. BUT, this is not a bad thing. What you lose aesthetically as far as big, fat, fluffy, streusel topped domes go, you make up for with extra gooey melted toffee streusel in part of the cheesecake filling.
On the flip side, if you cover up that little hole with pumpkin batter, the streusel topping remains on top, along with a beautiful dome, like you see in the first photo with the black background.
I did not cover the cheesecake batter circles on 7 out of 8 of my muffins. The last one I did because there was only enough cheesecake batter to rise it to a little less than 2/3’s full, so I scraped every last bit of pumpkin batter out of the bowl and filled it the rest of the way.
SO, your choice, big, beautiful ‘impress your guests/recipients’ domed jumbo muffins with a crumbly, crunchy toffee streusel, or a flatter topped muffin with melted, gooey streusel inside-out. You can’t lose either way..unless it’s a beauty contest.
Muffins and Tiaras.
If you find gooey, muddled, flat top muffins too ugly to present to guests or for gifting, just drizzle melted chocolate on top of them. I think that pumps the beauty quotient up quite a bit. Melted chocolate drizzle is one of the most beautiful things in the world.
Hmm..but then the same can be done to hotty dome queen and it’ll look even more gorgeous.
Who said the life of a muffin was fair?
Finally, I think my giant, rough and tumble looking muffins would have a mad crush on these beauties. So delicate and tea party with white gloves, ready; the antithesis of my scruffy, muscled blue-collar workers with calloused hands. The Muffin Notebook, perhaps?
Jumbo Pumpkin Cheesecake Muffins
- 2½ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ cup sugar
- ¼ cup packed brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup fresh, roasted or canned pumpkin puree *
- ½ cup buttermilk
- ¼ cup canola oil
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 8 oz cream cheese, softened
- ¼ cup sugar
- pinch of salt
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 egg
- ⅔ cup packed brown sugar
- ⅓ cup finely chopped pecans, toasted
- ⅔ cup finely chopped chocolate covered toffee
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- ½ cup cold butter, cubed
- In a large bowl, combine the first seven muffin batter ingredients.
- In another bowl, combine the eggs, pumpkin, buttermilk, oil and vanilla. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened - do not over stir it or you'll get tough muffins. Just a few folds until no flour remains. Set aside while you make the filling and streusel.
- Combine the cream cheese, sugar, egg, salt and vanilla beat until smooth. Do not over beat. Spoon the cream cheese filling into a pastry bag with a medium plain tip or a zip-lock bag with one end snipped off. Set Aside.
- In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, pecans, chopped toffee and flour; cut in butter until crumbly. Place in fridge, covered, until ready to use.
- Grease the top of the jumbo muffin tins lightly, making sure the area around each muffin well is greased. These babies rise a lot and spread a bit. If you don't use jumbo muffin liners, grease each muffin well too.
- Fill the 8 to 10 greased or paper-lined jumbo muffin cups half way with pumpkin batter. Place cheesecake batter filled pastry bag in the middle of each half filled muffin well, and squeeze in the filling until the batter rises and fills the lined muffin wells ⅔ to ¾ths full. Tap the pan on the counter a few times to release air bubbles, which I forgot to do, hence some of the holes in my cheesecake filling.
- Cover white circles of cheesecake on top with any extra pumpkin batter, or just scoop the pumpkin batter from the sides or underneath to cover. If you don't care about a big, muffin dome, skip this step.
- Dump large handfuls of toffee streusel over cheesecake filled muffin batter. Make sure to keep it contained in the muffin well -mounding it like little mountains. Any that spills onto muffin pan, wipe off or brush into one of the wells. Ignore my raw streusel photos...I wiped all that extra crumb off ;D
- Bake at 375° for 25-30 minutes (about 15-18 minutes for standard-sized muffins) or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack.