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Pumpkin Cheesecake Streusel Muffins




Here's a fun fact: I had to make these muffins three billion times before posting them. Okay, maybe not exactly three billion, but it definitely felt like that much. You see, I'm still fairly new to the whole developing recipes thing and I wasn't aware of just how large of a factor that failure can play in that process. So, getting back up and trying again and again and again was frustrating/tiring/blood pressure higher-ing. But, it has proven to be well worth it.



Basically, I got the idea to make these muffins from the strawberry cheesecake streusel muffins I made a few months ago. I was mindblown by my lightbulb of an idea to use pumpkin instead of strawberry....until a quick Google search revealed to me that people had been done this already. A lot of people. It's actually a bandwagon that basically everybody has jumped on, and literally the same bandwagon too, cause there's one recipe in particular that everyone's been using. And despite it's high praises, I decided I would go ahead and change it up, just to be cool and create something.



Well, apparently, it's not always cool to fix what ain't broke, cause things like ugly muffins happen as a result. Little miss stubborn me insisted on not freezing my cream cheese filling before baking the muffins, because I figured if it wasn't necessary in my strawberry muffins, it wouldnt be necessary here. Wrong. It's totally necessary. But, of course, I didn't accept this until my fourth batch.


Also, my crumb topping wasn't turning out right either. It wasn't staying crumbly; instead, it kept melting in the oven, making the muffins look worse. So not only did I have cheesecake filling oozing out everywhere, but it was oozing out from a puddle of melted streusel. Tough times for a food blogger man, lemme tell you. But it helped to have all these things happen, because it forced me to do my research and figure out how to fix what was wrong.



The freezing the cheesecake was obvious, but I took a note from Sally's blog and used melted butter in my streusel rather than cold butter. I also used her tip to bake the muffins at a really high temperature in the beginning so that they have nicely domed tops. Both of her tips worked (obv, she's the baking queen!) and when I finally followed the rules and froze the cream cheese, the result was perfect pumpkin cheesecake streusel muffins.


I've heard that Starbucks sells a similar version of these, and though I've never tasted them, these are probably WAY better. Not to toot my own horn or anything, but a) nothing is better than freshly baked goodies and b) these are the moistest pumpkin muffins ever and they've got the perfect balance of sweetness and spice. That alone should sell you but on top of that they've got the most delicious cheesecake filling and a stellar crumbly streusel topping to finish it all off, so really, is there room for comparison? 


Pumpkin Cheesecake Streusel Muffins

Yield: 12 muffins
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Ingredients:

For the cheesecake filling:
4 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup powdered (confectioners) sugar, sifted
pinch of vanilla powder (or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract)

For the muffins:
1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup pumpkin puree
2 large eggs
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup oil
2 tablespoons buttermilk

For the streusel topping:
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted


Directions:

Using an electric hand mixer, beat together cream cheese and powdered sugar until smooth and creamy. Scoop out 12 balls of filling (or use a piping bag) and place them on a wax paper-lined freezer safe plate. Freeze for two hours.

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together flour, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, salt, and baking soda. Set aside.

In another bowl, using an electric hand mixer, beat together pumpkin puree, eggs, sugars, oil, and buttermilk on medium speed until well-combined. Reduce speed to low and beat in dry ingredients just until incorporated.

In a small bowl, combine brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon. Add melted butter and mix in with a fork until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with cupcake liners.

Fill each cupcake liner with 1-2 tablespoons of batter, just enough to cover the bottom. Place a frozen dollop of cheesecake filling in the center over the batter in each cup. Distribute the remaining batter between the muffin cups, making sure to cover the cream cheese completely. Sprinkle streusel topping over the batter.

Bake for 5 minutes in preheated oven, then reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees and bake for an additional 15 minutes.

Let cool in tin for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

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