You’ll love this recipe for Pumpkin Cream Cheese Swirl Muffins - it's a delicious combination of moist pumpkin muffins topped with tangy sweet cream cheese and baked at hig. Plus they take less than an hour to make and bake. In the recipe below I’ll show you how to make this tasty treat using simple ingredients.
- Why This Recipe Works
- Pumpkin Cream Cheese Swirl Muffin Ingredients
- How to Make Pumpkin Cream Cheese Swirl Muffins
- How to Store Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins
- Can I Freeze Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins
- Recommended Equipment
- Pro Tips For Making These Muffins
- If You Like This Muffin Recipe, Try These Recipes
- Pumpkin Cream Cheese Swirl Muffins
These pumpkin muffins are one of my favorite treats. I love the combination of a moist sweet pumpkin muffin topped with tangy cream cheese. And it's not only the cream cheese topping, but I love the taste of the spices and that little kick you get from the ginger in the homemade pumpkin pie spice.
Why This Recipe Works
To keep the muffins tender the muffin batter is made with what is called the muffin method. This method involves combining the dry ingredients in one bowl and the wet ingredients in another bowl and then combining them together. The purpose of this method is to limit the amount of gluten development during the mixing process, which keeps muffins and quick breads light and tender.
To ensure a beautiful domed muffin as you see in bakery shops the muffins are placed in a 425 degrees F oven, then reduced to 350 degrees F. The high temperature quickly activates the baking powder and baking soda and releases a burst of steam resulting in a fast rise that lifts the batter, producing a taller muffin.
Pumpkin Cream Cheese Swirl Muffin Ingredients
Here are the ingredients you need for these delicious pumpkin muffins:
- Pumpkin Puree: Libby’s Pumpkin Puree works best for these muffins. Be sure to use pumpkin puree and not pumpkin pie filling.
- Unbleached All-Purpose Flour: Provides the structure of the muffin.
- Light Brown Sugar: The brown sugar adds sweetness, moisture, and a slight molasses flavor.
- Granulated Sugar: The granulated sugar adds sweetness and moisture and adds a slight crispness to the top edges.
- Unsalted Butter: The butter adds fat and flavor to the muffin. The fat helps keep the muffin moist.
- Large Eggs: The eggs add structure, fat, and moisture to the muffin. An egg yolk is also used in the cream cheese filling and helps make it fluffy. For the best results use room-temperature eggs. The eggs in this recipe weigh 50 grams each and the egg yolks weigh 20 grams each.
- Pumpkin Pie Spice: This recipe for homemade pumpkin pie spice is a delicious combination of ground cinnamon, ground ginger, ground nutmeg, and ground cloves. This spice mixture gives these muffins their distinctive warm flavor when combined with the pumpkin puree.
- Sour Cream: The buttermilk helps keep the muffins moist. Use room-temperature sour cream.
- Baking Powder: The baking powder helps the muffins to rise
- Baking Soda: The baking soda helps the muffin to rise and also contributes to the cracks and crannies on top of the muffin.
- Kosher Salt: The salt balances the sweetness of the muffins and helps elevate the other flavors.
- Cream Cheese: I recommend Philadelphia Brand Cream Cheese. It has the right amount of richness and tartness.
- Pure Vanilla Extract: The vanilla extract adds a nice flavor to the cream cheese filling.
Full ingredients, measurements, and instructions are in the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
How to Make Pumpkin Cream Cheese Swirl Muffins
Step 1: Melt the butter over medium-low heat. When there is just a small piece of butter left remove the pan from the heat and allow the butter to cool until it is just barely warm, about 80-85F.
Melting the butter over low heat and removing it before it is completely melted will reduce the amount of evaporation. Most butter in the United States is 80% fat, 16% water, and about 2-4% milk solids, so we want to keep as much moisture as possible when melting the butter.
Step 2: Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners and preheat the oven to 425F.
Step 3: Place the flour, baking soda, and baking powder in a medium bowl and whisk together to combine. Set the flour mixture aside.
Step 4: Place the brown sugar, granulated sugar, pumpkin pie spice, and salt in a large bowl and whisk together. Use your fingers to break up any brown sugar lumps. Brown sugar loves to clump together.
Step 5: Next add the warm butter and whisk it into the sugar mixture. It’s going to have a sandy texture.
Step 6: Whisk in the beaten eggs until the eggs are incorporated and the batter has a lighter color.
Step 7: Whisk in all of the pumpkin puree and whisk in the sour cream.
Now we’re going to let the wet ingredients sit for 10 minutes to give the sugar time to dissolve. Since sugar adds moisture to the muffins, we want to make sure it’s fully dissolved to help ensure a moister muffin.
Step 9: While the batter is resting, place the cream cheese, egg yolk, and sugar into a medium-sized bowl, and with a wooden spoon mix the ingredients together. Then mix in the vanilla extract.
Place the cream cheese filling in a pastry bag fitted with a No. 12 Wilton tip.
Step 10: Add the dry ingredients in two batches, gently folding it in with a silicone spatula. Make sure to mix from the bottom of the bowl so you capture all the flour as you're mixing it in.
The batter will be stiff and a little lumpy, which is okay. Don’t overmix the batter trying to remove the lumps or the muffins will have a slightly rubbery texture.
Step 11: Divide the pumpkin muffin batter between the 12 muffin cups (about 80 grams in each muffin liner). You’ll need to thoroughly scrape the mixing bowl to have enough batter. The muffin tins will be filled almost to the top.
Step 12: Pipe six small dots of cream cheese around the top of the pumpkin batter - about a tablespoon for each muffin. Use a toothpick or skewer to swirl the cream cheese around the top of each muffin.
Step 13: Bake the muffins at 425F for 5 minutes then without opening the oven door, reduce the temperature to 350F and bake until the muffins have risen and the internal temperature registers 202F. Check the internal temperature with an instant-read thermometer.
The muffins will have a slightly springy texture when touched and should have risen to twice their height.
Remove the muffins from the oven, cool them for 5 minutes, and then place the muffins on a wire rack to finish cooling.
How to Store Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins
Since the muffins have cream cheese on top they need to be refrigerated the same day they are baked. After they have cooled to room temperature and you've eaten all that you're going to eat for the day tore them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Can I Freeze Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins
Yes, you can freeze these muffins but I don't recommend it. When the cream cheese thaws it has a crumbly, grainy texture, unlike the smooth texture it has when the muffins first come out of the oven.
Pro Tips For Making These Muffins
- Use a scale to measure the flour to ensure you have the right amount. Too much flour could result in a dry muffin.
- Let the wet ingredients sit for 10 minutes to dissolve the sugar. Sugar contributes to the moisture of the muffins. Allowing the sugar to dissolve will help ensure a super moist muffin.
- Use room-temperature eggs and sour cream to help ensure a fluffy muffin. Cold eggs could result in stodgy muffins.
- Since this recipe does not use a whole can of pumpkin puree, store the leftover puree in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week or freeze it until you're ready to use it for another recipe.
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If You Like This Muffin Recipe, Try These Recipes
Pumpkin Cream Cheese Swirl Muffins
- 1-3/4 cups (220 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoon (8 grams) baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 8 tablespoons (114 grams) unsalted butter melted
- 1/2 cup (100 grams) packed dark brown sugar
- 1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
- 2 large (100 grams) eggs room temperature (65-68 degrees F)
- 1 1/4 cups (280 grams) pumpkin puree Libby's Pumpkin Puree, recommended
- 1/4 cup (60 grams) sour cream room temperature (65-68 degrees F)
Cream Cheese Filling
- 6 ounces (169 grams) cream cheese room temperature
- 2 tablespoons (25 grams) granulated sugar
- 1 large (20 grams) egg yolk
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Pumpkin pie spice is one of the main ingredients in these muffins. Use this recipe for homemade pumpkin pie spice or purchase a jar from your local grocery store.
- Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C). Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners.
- Melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat. When there is just a small piece of butter left, remove the saucepan from the heat. Beat the two eggs together in a small bowl.
- Place the all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium sized bowl and whisk for 30 seconds to thoroughly combine the ingredients. Set the dry ingredients aside.
- Place the brown sugar, granulated sugar, and pumpkin spice in a large bowl and whisk together. Use your fingers to break up any brown sugar clumps. Add the warm melted butter and whisk together until the ingredients are well combined, about 20 seconds. The mixture will have a sandy texture.
- Add the beaten eggs and whisk until the eggs are thoroughly combined and the batter looks smoother and lighter in cooler. Whisk in the pumpkin puree, then whisk in the sour cream.
- NOTE: If you're using leftover pumpkin puree that's been in the refrigerator, bring it room temperature (65-68 degrees F) before adding it to the batter. Adding cold pumpkin puree will cause the batter to curdle and may cause some of the butter to resolidify.
- The batter should be lighter in color and look smooth. Set the batter aside for 10 minutes. Letting the batter sit for 10 minutes will give the sugar more time to thoroughly dissolve.
- While the batter is sitting make the cream cheese filling. Place the cream cheese, sugar, and egg yolk in a small mixing bowl. Beat the ingredients together with a wooden spoon, until the ingredients are well combined. The batter may still be a little lumpy but that is okay. Mix in the vanilla extract.
- Place the cream cheese mixture in a piping bag with a No. 12 Wilton tip. If you don’t have a piping bag, place the cream cheese in a freezer bag and cut a 1/4-inch opening into one of the bottom corners.
- Add half of the flour mixture to the wet ingredients. Use a silicone spatula to fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Add the remaining flour mixture and fold it in until the dry ingredients are thoroughly incorporated, and no white specs of flour remain. Make sure to scrape from the bottom to ensure all the flour is incorporated into the batter.
- The batter may be a little lumpy which is okay. Don’t try to make the batter smooth. That will cause the batter to be overmixed which will result in tough springy muffins.
- Divide the batter between the 12 muffin cups. The batter should almost be the top of each paper liner. If you’re using a kitchen scale, that’s about 80 grams of batter for each muffin cup.
- Next pipe 6 drops of the cream cheese around the top of each muffin with at least one in the center. It should come to about 1 tablespoon of cream cheese per muffin. Use a toothpick or wooden skewer to swirl the cream cheese across the top.
- Bake the muffins at 425°F for 5 minutes, then without opening the oven door reduce the temperature to 350°F (180°C). Bake the muffins for another 15-18 minutes, until the center is done.
- Test for doneness by sticking a toothpick or a cake skewer in the center. There should be no more than 1 or 2 crumbs sticking to the toothpick. For a temperature, the temperature in the center of the muffin should register 202 degrees F using an instant-read thermometer.
- Remove the muffins from the oven and let the muffins cool in the muffin pan for 5 minutes. Place the individual muffins on a wire rack to finish cooling. The muffins can be served warm.
- Place the muffins in an airtight container in the refrigerator the same day they are baked and after you’ve finished eating them for the day. The muffins need to be refrigerated because of the cream cheese toppin.
- I don’t recommend freezing the muffins. The cream cheese topping can be crumbly after thawing out and not taste as soon.