Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins, Lightened Up

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins.

With the chill that’s been in the air the last few days now, I’m finally getting a desire to eat some of the foods and flavors that we typically associate with fall.  Enjoying a pumpkin latte at Starbucks is pretty high up there on my list of favorite things to do and I have been know to also order a pumpkin spice cream cheese muffin to go with it.  Nothing like a little pumpkin overload.  😀

Now, I know that those muffins contain a whopping number of calories, fat and sugar, but they are so delicious.  As an occasional treat they are OK,  but I would like to enjoy them more frequently in a healthier version.   As luck would have it, I recently came across a recipe on-line for a copycat of the pumpkin muffins, and so with that as a basis, I set out to lighten it up, and see if I could still retain the luscious taste of the original muffin.


In my opinion these are pretty close to the original.  If not an exact duplicate, they are close enough to be equally enjoyable, and a whole lot healthier.  My makeover included replacing the all-purpose flour with white whole wheat, replacing much of the oil with applesauce, reducing the sugar, and using low-fat cream cheese for the filling.  In addition, I made a crumb topping that includes oats for extra texture and a little more fiber.  These muffins have been a hit with everyone who has had them, and I feel much better about sharing them, knowing that they are not such calorie bombs!.

The on-line recipe makes a total of 24 muffins, which is way too many for me and Mr. D., so I cut it in half and made only 12 muffins.  The full recipe is presented here for those of you who like to make larger quantities, but can easily be halved if you want to.  The muffins freeze very well, and rewarm nicely in the microwave.   In fact, they are more spicy and intensely flavorful when warm.


Yield:   24 muffins


For the filling:

  • 8 oz. reduced-fat cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 Tbsp. honey

For the muffins:

Five spices plus cocoa and molasses make them intensely flavorful.

Five spices plus cocoa and molasses make them intensely flavorful.

  • 3 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. cloves
  • 1/2  tsp. ginger
  • 4  tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 Tbsp. cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups pumpkin puree
  • 1 Tbsp. molasses
  • 1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce

For the topping: *

  • 4 Tbsp. white whole wheat flour
  • 7 Tbsp. old fashioned rolled oats
  • 3 Tbsp. turbinado (coarse) sugar or brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 3 Tbsp. cold butter, cut into small pieces


1.   Make the filling:  combine the cream cheese and honey in a small bowl.  Beat with an electric beater until smooth.  Scrape onto a piece of wax paper, and shape into a long roll (log), not any wider than a muffin cup.  Place into the freezer to chill while you mix up the batter and fill the pans.

Make filling, roll into a log and chill it.

Make filling, roll into a log and chill it.

2.  Make the muffins:  Preheat the oven to 350*F.  Line muffin pans with paper liners.  In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients ( flour through baking soda).

In  another bowl, combine the eggs, sugar, pumpkin puree, oil and applesauce.  Blend well.  Add to dry ingredients, and stir just until incorporated.

3.  Make the topping:  combine all ingredients except butter in a medium bowl.  Whisk to blend.  Cut in the butter using a pastry blender or two forks until mixture is course and crumbly.  Refrigerate until ready to use.

Have the topping all made and ready.

Have the topping all made and ready.

4.  Assemble muffins:  fill each muffin cup with a small amount of batter ( 1 – 2 Tablespoons) just to cover bottom of the liner.

A little batter in the bottom of each cup.

A little batter in the bottom of each cup.

Remove filling from freezer and cut into 24  slices.  Place one slice of filling in each muffin cup.

Put a slice of filling into each cup.

Put a slice of filling into each cup.

Divide the remaining batter among the muffin cups, placing it on top of the cream cheese to cover completely.

Cover with remaining batter.

Cover with remaining batter.

Sprinkle a small amount of the topping mixture over each muffin.

Sprinkle on topping.

Sprinkle on topping.

5.  Bake for 20 – 25 minutes.  A toothpick inserted near the center should test clean. (Avoid the cream cheese filling.) Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely before serving.

Imagine biting into one of these!

Imagine biting into one of these!

This will be extremely difficult to do, but the filling gets very hot, so please resist temptation.  😀

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins,  unbelievably delicious.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins, unbelievably delicious.

*  Topping is completely optional.  These muffins are great with or without the topping.  Chopped walnuts or pecans could be mixed into the topping, or sprinkled on top in place of the topping.

P. S.  I wish I had made 24, because now they are all gone and I just have to make more.

SOURCE:   Heavily adapted from Food.com

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