When I first got married and joined my husband's larger than average blended family, (K"H) I wasn't expecting to be so lucky. All those jokes about mother in laws and I wound up two! What I didn't realize was that not all mothers-in-law are the evil, all up in your business, tell you how to run your life type of mother-in-law. Both of mine happen to be the most caring, wonderful, giving, loving and amazing women I could ever have asked to meet (Besides my own mother-of course). I'm not here to make you jealous that I have fantastic mother in laws, don't worry. I'm here to make you jealous that as the first daughter-in-law, I rightfully inherited all of their recipes! Most people get one side of new recipes when they enter a family, if any at all. I got two! From fantastic cooks, I might add.
My husband's mother has a few classics that she loves. When my husband and I got engaged, she gave me a box of a few precious items she saved from his childhood (His first onesie, report cards, trophies, etc.) and a notebook full of her favorite recipes. It was perhaps one of the most considerate gifts I got. One of the recipes was for pumpkin bread. It's this delicious pumpkin cake-like loaf that is moist and flavorful and filled with warm spices and fall feelings. My mother-in-law makes it all the time and serves it for Shabbos dessert with a layer of chocolate on top and Tofutti Vanilla Almond Bark Ice Cream. What I didn't know is that she serves it quite often. My husband and his younger brother have both told me that if I dare make it they won't eat it. So of course, I took that as a personal challenge.
How could I spice up pumpkin bread and make it exciting enough so my husband would eat it and love it again? First obviously, the shape would have to go. So goodbye pumpkin loaf, and hello individual muffins! Next, it was time to go all out on the warm and fuzzy spices. (Fuzzy sounds like they were moldy- gross! I mean the fuzzy and tingly feelings that you get from all the cinnamon and spices that come out around pumpkin season.) Then, we add the cream cheese swirl cause a little dairy goes a long way. And finally, top it off with streusel because we wanted to rid this muffin from any confusion that it may be healthy and good for you. (Muffins are never good for you! They just sit there smugly and try to make you feel better that you didn't have a doughnut. For the amount of calories you just ate in that muffin, you really should have had that doughnut- or three.) (Sorry, sometimes the Nurse part of me comes out and I can't stop it. I can only apologize for what she says.)
With my challenge ahead of me, and tactics formulated, I began my battle. I only had a few minor mishaps and tasted only about 1 muffin worth of batter, which, in my case, I consider a success. When I rescued the last batch from the oven, and the house smelled like Thanksgiving it was almost time for tasting. I pretended not to be super excited and laid out a muffin for my husband and daughter on the table. I then left to school and waited, and waited, and waited to hear something, anything from the family back at home. (In my husband's defense, it was a crazy morning...) Finally, at around 1 pm I got the message. "I just tasted the muffin and it was amazing!!!!" (Four exclamation points people! Count 'Em!) "It was so moist and tasted really good! Great job!"
Just so you know we don't usually have this kind of situation where I sit around and wait for my husband to compliment my cooking. This was obviously a special case. In the challenge of Shushy vs. Pumpkin Bread, Shushy is victorious! (Insert applause here). The ironic part though, was my daughter's opinion. She wanted to know if I could take off all the cream cheese and crumbs! So much for that!
Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins with Streusel Topping
Yields: 12 muffins
For the Cream Cheese Filling:
4 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature
½ cup powdered sugar
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
For the Streusel:
½ cup all-purpose flour
⅓ cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
For the Muffins:
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
¾ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin
½ cup + 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Make the Cream Cheese Filling In a medium bowl; stir together the cream cheese and confectioners’ sugar until smooth. Add the vanilla, and stir to combine.
Make the Streusel: In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar and cinnamon. Use a fork to mix in the melted butter, ensuring that all of the ingredients are moistened. Refrigerate while you prepare the muffins.
Make the Muffins: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a standard 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners; set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, allspice, baking soda and salt.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar, pumpkin, eggs, oil, and vanilla extract.
Pour the pumpkin mixture over the dry ingredients. Use a rubber spatula to gently combine the batter, mixing just until the dry ingredients are moistened.
Scoop pumpkin batter into the muffin cups but fill only 2/3-3-4 of the way. Add about 1 tablespoon of the cream cheese in the center of each cup and with a toothpick swirl the cream cheese mixture into the pumpkin batter.
Sprinkle the streusel on top of each muffin. Press on the streusel lightly to make sure it adheres to the batter.
Bake until golden, about 20 to 25 minutes. Cool in the pan for about 5 minutes, and then remove muffins to a cooling rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Let them come to room temperature before serving, or warm briefly in the microwave to take the chill off. The muffins can be wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen for up to 2 months.
Adapted from a recipe by Miriam Gruza and Brown Eyed Baker