October 23, 2012

Recipe: Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

Its that time of year again: chilly, rainy and grey.  The time of year where all you want to do is curl up under a blanket and feel cozy.  When I think of the coziness of October and November, I think of spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and clove.  I think of the creamy richness of pumpkin puree.  And I think of the warmth of straight-out-of-the-oven baked goodies.

Here's my healthy take on an autumn treat, using dates for sweetness instead of sugar.

You'll first need to soak the dates for at least 2 hours.  Soaking makes them soft so you can blend them into a paste and mix into the batter.  When you drain your soaked dates, reserve the water.  It will be sweetened by the dates, and will be used to add extra sweetness to the recipe.  Your date paste will look something like this:

 You will add this paste to the other liquids, including the flax egg (made by combining flax meal and warm water and letting it stand for 5-10 min until it turns slightly gelatinous) coconut oil, and pumpkin.

Once you mix wet and dry ingredients separately and combine them, it is time to form the muffins. When forming the muffins, first divide half the batter among the 12 cups.  Then add a dollop of chilled cream cheese mixture, and then cover with more batter.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean.  Cool for 5 minutes in the tin, then remove to a cooling rack.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins
Makes 12 large or 24 mini muffins

Cream Cheese Filling
4 oz vegan cream cheese
1/2 tsp agave nectar
1/2 tsp vanilla

Mix all ingredients until smooth.  Put in fridge to chill while you make the muffins.

1 c dried pitted dates, soaked in 1 c water for 30 min to 4h, drained and water reserved
2 tbsp flax meal (ground flax) + 6 tbsp warm water
1 1/2 c whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 c pumpkin
3 tbsp coconut oil, melted
2/3 c date soaking water

Soak your dates for 2-4 hours by placing in small bowl and covering with 1 cup of water.  Drain, reserving soak water.  Puree dates with 1/3 cup of soaking water in food processor until smooth.
Mix 2 tbsp flax meal with 6 tbsp warm water in a small bowl and set aside.
Preheat oven to 350.  Prepare muffin tin with liners and non-stick spray.
Mix flour, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, cloves, baking soda and salt.  In another bowl, mix pumpkin, coconut oil, flax mixture, dates and remaining soak water.  Mix well.  Add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture and stir only until just combined.
Divide half the batter between 12 muffin cups. Scoop 1 tsp of cream cheese mixture into each muffin cup.  Divide remaining batter between muffin cups to cover cream cheese dollops.
Bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Cool for 5 min then remove to cooling rack.

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