Lemony Blueberry Cream Cheese Muffins

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This recipe takes the well-known concept of the blueberry muffin to a whole new level. These muffins are extra special because they have a surprise inside: delicious, lemony cream cheese! They are great on their own, but the lemon cream cheese filling with the plump, juicy blueberries makes these muffins marvelous.

My son didn’t notice the cream cheese filling until the second bite when his “mmmm” escalated to “MMMM!” He loved the surprise filling.

A fresh blueberry muffin with lemony cheesecake flavors in the mix is the perfect way to start any morning. Surprise your loved ones with these muffins-they will love them (and you for baking them)!

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Lemony Blueberry Cream Cheese Muffins (makes 9)

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup sugar
zest of 1 large lemon
1/4 cup canola oil
1 egg, large
1/3 cup whole or skim milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)

Cream Cheese Filling:

3 Tbsp cream cheese
1 tsp lemon zest
1 Tbsp sugar
turbinado sugar (for sprinkling on muffins before baking)

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease muffin cups or line with muffin liners.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, and cinnamon.
3. In a small bowl, add the sugar and lemon zest. Rub sugar and zest together, until fragrant. Add to the flour mixture and whisk again.
4. In a separate medium bowl, mix canola oil, egg, milk, and vanilla.
5. Incorporate the wet ingredients into flour mixture. Add slowly and do not over mix. (The batter will be lumpy and thick.) Gently fold in the blueberries.
6. In a small bowl, mix together the cream cheese, lemon zest, and sugar until smooth.
7. Fill each muffin cup half way with batter. Next, add about 1 teaspoon of cream cheese filling to each muffin cup. Cover each cup with remaining batter so you can’t see the cream cheese filling. Sprinkle each muffin with turbinado sugar.
8. Bake muffins for 17-20 minutes, or until muffins are golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean.
9. Let muffins cool on a cooking rack.

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Red Velvet Cream Cheese Muffins

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A red carpet delicacy, these cream cheese muffins are a muffinized™ Red Velvet cake, perfect for watching the Academy Awards (tonight). The color is rich and red, thanks to the beet powder, which is undetectable by taste.

The cream cheese swirled into the batter adds a subtle tang and provides extra moisture. The crumb topping is sweet, sandy, and slightly crunchy – it’s difficult not to pick off each crumb one by one!

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Red Velvet Cream Cheese Muffins (makes 12)

Crumb Topping*
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
5 Tbsp unsalted butter, diced into cubes
*recipe yields extra crumb topping

Cream Cheese Mixture
4 ounces brick-style cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Muffins
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
1 large egg
1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil
1/3 cup buttermilk
2 Tbsp natural unsweetened cocoa powder
4 tsp beet powder (or 2 tsp red liquid natural food coloring)

1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Spray muffin pan with cooking spray.
2. Crumb Topping– In a medium mixing bowl, add the sugar and flour. Use two forks or a pastry cutter to cut in the butter until you have coarse crumbs; set aside.
3. Cream Cheese Mixture– In a separate medium mixing bowl, combine the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, and beat with a handheld electric mixer until smooth, or whisk by hand until smooth; set aside.
4. Muffins– In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
5. In a separate medium mixing bowl, whisk together the egg, oil, buttermilk, cocoa powder, and beet powder.
6. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir just until moistened. (Do not overmix. Batter is thick and lumpy.)
7. Fold the cream cheese mixture into the muffin batter, being careful not to overmix. Some streaks of cream cheese should remain.
8. With an ice cream scoop, spoon batter into muffin pan, filling each cavity to two-thirds full. (Do not overfill. If cavities are too full, the crumb topping will spill onto muffin pan).
9. Evenly sprinkle each muffin with the crumb topping.
10. Bake for about 17 to 19 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Allow muffins to cool in pan for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

*Notes:
Muffins will keep airtight at room temperature for up to 3 days, or in the freezer for up to 4 months.

 

 

If You Give Your Love a Muffin

This article was featured in Real Woman on February 12, 2015.

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The idea of Valentine’s Day makes me blanch. We all love love, but some of us are perplexed by the popularity of a national holiday that leaves singles bitter, promotes the exchange of tacky gifts, and encourages children to trade “statements of love.” I, for one, resent the pressure on couples, young and old, to indulge in prix fixe meals that they would not otherwise stomach.

I feel so strongly about it that when my older son was 3, I took a stand. His preschool teachers told parents to pack a dozen personalized valentines to give out on the Day of Love. Like most 3-year-olds, my child could not yet write his name, so the task was clearly intended for the parents to transliterate scribbles on cards.

I did not enjoy the homework assignment, nor did I appreciate the expectation placed on my preschooler to send so-called-love-notes to children who could not yet read.

So I complained.

The director of the preschool rescinded the “assignment,” and the mothers went wild with disapproval. The Chicago moms had no clue that I was the culprit (until now).

Regardless of that year’s freedom from insincere Hallmark greetings, I’m still baffled by how second nature it is for today’s youth to swap cheesy Sponge Bob and Spider-Man valentines and for grown men to scurry off to grab the remnants of red roses at the grocery store. I do wonder what I’m missing.

But since it feels cynical to shut out the best thing we humans do on Earth (love), I share this recipe, for Valentine’s Day, straight from my heart.

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Cream Cheese Chocolate Muffins (makes 18)

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup baking cocoa
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup water
1/3 cup canola oil
1 Tbsp white vinegar
1 tsp vanilla

Filling
1 cup (8oz.) cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1/8 tsp salt
2 cups chocolate chips (or 1 cup chocolate chips and 1 cup peanut butter chips)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease muffin cups with cooking spray, or line with paper liners.
2. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Add water, oil, vinegar, and vanilla. Mix well.
3. For the filling: In a separate mixing bowl, combine cream cheese, sugar, egg, salt, and chocolate chips. Mix well.
4. Use an ice cream scoop to spoon batter into muffin cups until half full.
5. Top each muffin cup with 2 Tbsp of filling.
6. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes.
7. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to place on a wire cooling rack.

* Pair these muffins with a bottle of wine for a true Valentine’s Day

 

 

 

Cream Cheese Chocolate Muffins

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Rich, creamy, and decadent, these muffins look heavenly and make a perfect dinner party dessert. The chocolate is fudgy and rich. The cream cheese filling makes a creamy, chewy kind of sink-hole for the crunchy chocolate chips.

Chances are you may already have the ingredients for this recipe, which is easy to whip up last minute and only requires two mixing bowls. These are impressive for a bake sale, charity, or dinner party.

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Cream Cheese Chocolate Muffins (makes 18)

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup baking cocoa
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup water
1/3 cup canola oil
1 Tbsp white vinegar
1 tsp vanilla

Filling

1 cup (8oz.) cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1/8 tsp salt
2 cups chocolate chips (or 1 cup chocolate chips and 1 cup peanut butter chips)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease muffin cups with cooking spray, or line with paper liners.
2. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Add water, oil, vinegar, and vanilla. Mix well.
3. For the Filling: In a separate mixing bowl, combine cream cheese, sugar, egg, salt, and chocolate chips. Mix well.
4. Use an ice cream scoop to spoon batter into muffin cups until half full.
5. Top each muffin cup with 2 Tbsp of Filling.
6. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes.
7. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to place on a wire cooling rack.

Cheesecake Muffins

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Luscious and dainty, these cheesecake muffins are dusted with powdered sugar, inspired by the delicate dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy.

Their sweet taste is tinged with a cheese-cake-y tang that is out-of-this-world. The vanilla extract and wafer cookie crust send a hint of caramel right to the heart of the cakes. And the bottoms are not soggy!

Rich and creamy, this great dinner party dessert is perfect for any season. The sprinkled powdered sugar on top suggests an edible winter wonderland. The velvety-smooth cream cheese makes a platter ideal for spring and summer and any holiday that highlights dairy foods.

These beautiful cakes are light but dense with flavor. They are sized just right for the calorie conscious and baked in small cups for little hands.

The best part of this recipe is that it’s so easy and effortless while still creating the illusion that a pastry chef has spent hours in the kitchen.

For a taste of New York, make cheesecake muffins ahead of time and serve, any time of the day.

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Cheesecake Muffins (makes 12)

24 vanilla wafer cookies (I recommend Nilla Wafers)
One 8 oz packages cream cheese (softened)
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbsp flour
1/8 tsp baking powder
1/2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 egg
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
12 foil cupcake liners
1 Tbsp powdered sugar

1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Spray muffin pan with cooking spray or line it with paper liners and spray liners.
2. In a large bowl beat cream cheese and sugar. Add in flour and baking powder and beat until combined. Then mix in eggs, one at a time, lemon juice, and vanilla.
3. Fill a muffin pan with cupcake liners and place two vanilla wafer cookies at the bottom of each one. Divide batter between 12 liners, filling each cup up to about 1/4 inch from the top.
4. Bake for 22-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
5. Remove muffins from oven and place them on a cooling rack to cool completely.
6. Chill in refrigerator for two to four hours.
7. Top with powdered sugar and serve.

Hot Chocolate Muffins

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This muffin is as comforting as a steaming mug of cocoa on a freezing cold day. In fact, the recipe was “born” on a blistery day (negative four degrees in Chicago) when 2-year-old Michael was up for the day at 4:30am.

As the muffins bake, the marshmallow filling melts the way the jet-puffed candy dissolves into creamy hot chocolate. The toasted marshmallow top creates a perfectly browned hue and adds a touch of sweetness – a must. Serve with warm milk or as dessert on a snowy day.

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Hot Chocolate Muffins

2 cups all-purpose flour
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
½  tsp baking soda
½  tsp salt
2 large eggs, beaten
½ cup buttermilk
½ cup sour cream
½ cup (4 oz) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 tsp vanilla
½ cup small marshmallows OR 12 large marshmallows

Marshmallow Filling*

1 cup cream cheese, whipped (at room temperature)
1 cup marshmallow cream (Fluff)
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp vanilla

* recipe yields extra filling

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease muffin cups with cooking spray or line with paper muffin liners.
2. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
3. In a separate mixing bowl, combine eggs, buttermilk, sour cream, butter and vanilla.
4. Pour liquid mixture into dry mix and combine.
5. Distribute batter into muffin cups to 1/3 full.
6. For the Filling, whisk together cream cheese, marshmallow cream, sugar, egg and vanilla until smooth.
7. Place one heaping teaspoon of filling and a few small marshmallows into each center.
8. Top with remaining muffin batter to no more than ¾ full (or else muffin tops will expand and reach one another during the baking process).
9. Place about 3-4 small marshmallows and/or 1 large marshmallow on each muffin top and prod into batter (be sure to prod into batter or else the marshmallows will slip off during the baking process).
10. Bake 16-18 minutes.
11. Allow to cool 5 minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool.

 

Peanut Butter & Jelly Muffins

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A peanut buttery muffin with creamy, jelly-filled center trumps the PB & J sandwich any day. Its peanut butter isn’t sticky and its jelly doesn’t ooze all over the place. Plus, what child wouldn’t be pleasantly surprised to see frosting-like jelly inside.

The “frosting” actually contains some protein (cream cheese), which complements the amino acids in the peanut butter…shhh, don’t tell!

These muffins are quick and easy to prepare, requiring two mixing bowls and a whisk. They are fluffy, moist, soft and light. Perfect for breakfast, brunch, or snacks.

*Possible Substitutions:

  • For the milk, substitute unsweetened vanilla almond milk or soy, cow, rice, goat, or coconut milk.
  • For the jelly, use strawberry jelly, jam, or preserves (or raspberry, apricot, raspberry, grape or cherry).
  • For the peanut butter, use soy nut butter.

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Peanut Butter and Jelly Muffins (makes 18)

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 egg
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup milk
1/2 heaping cup creamy peanut butter
1/3 cup canola oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup jelly, jam or preserves
½ cup whipped cream cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease muffin pan with cooking spray or line with paper liners.
2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugars, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
3. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk egg, buttermilk, milk, peanut butter, oil and vanilla extract.
4. Pour wet ingredients over the dry ingredients. Stir until just combined.
5. Spoon batter into greased muffin pan, filling each muffin cup about 1/4 full.
6. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk cream cheese and jelly.
7. Spoon 1 tsp jelly filling onto each muffin cup. Top with batter to ¾ full.
8. Bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until tops are golden.