Sunday, September 21, 2014

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake Muffins

Today's edition of the Crystal Balls VI League's weekly meeting of grown men yelling at multiple TVs while incessantly checking their fantasy teams on their phone was sponsored by the always wonderful hosts Danielle and Marshall. Instead of the normal theme of meat and beer, they decided to class things up with a brunch theme complete with mimosas and absurdly decadent creme brulee French toast. For my contribution, I thought I'd show my appreciation to host Danielle and her gluten allergy by stepping up my baking game and braving the world of gluten-free cooking.

Would my gluten-free Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake muffins hit the spot, or would brunch be ruined forever?

Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake Muffins
Adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction
Servings: 12 muffins
Time: 60 minutes + cooling
Crumb goop!

Crumble Topping
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour (I used Bob's Red Mill)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake Muffins
1 3/4 cups gluten-free all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup canola oil
1/3 cup milk
1 tbsp vanilla extract

Cheesecake Filling
8 oz cream cheese, softened to room temp.
1 egg yolk
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp granulated sugar

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 F. Line a muffin tin.
  2. Make the crumble by mixing the brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon together. Then stir in the melted butter until crumbs form (Note: mine just kind of turned into super wet dough, making me wonder if gluten-free flour isn't up to this task. But, it's still butter and sugar, so it can only add flavor). Set aside.
  3. Make the pumpkin muffins. Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and pumpkin pie spice together in a large bowl.
  4. Whisk the brown sugar and eggs together until smooth. Mix in the pumpkin puree, oil, milk, and vanilla until well combined.
  5. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ones and whisk until just combined.
  6. Make the cream cheese filling by beating the cream-cheese in an electric mixer until smooth. Add in the egg yolk, vanilla extract and sugar until well combined.
  7. Layer the muffin and cheesecake as such: 1 tbsp muffin batter-> ~1/2-3/4 tbsp cream cheese filling-> 1 tbsp muffin batter. Note: this will fill up the muffin tins to very close to the top, which you want in this case. Top with the crumble.
  8. Bake for 5 minutes at 425 F. Lower the temperature to 350 (keeping the muffins in) and bake for an additional 12-15 minutes or until the toothpick test comes out clean (or nearly clean as you might get some melty cream cheese).
  9. Let the muffins cool in their tin for 10 minutes then transfer to wire racks and finish cooling.
  10. Enjoy autumn in style.
Note: one person would attempt to put the Whataburger Honey Butter on top of the muffins because Texas!
These muffins hit all the right autumnal notes I was looking for. The incredibly moist cake had just the right, powerful amount of pumpkin and spice to make you think you were having your favorite fall Starbucks treat, while the layer of cheesecake added a velvety richness making these worthy of even the most critical brunch-goer's Sunday Funday. My only complaint was that the crumble didn't really live up to its name, but, hey, added butter and sugar never hurt anyone.... The muffins were a huge hit, and I managed to not cross-contaminate them in my gluten-bomb of a kitchen meaning Danielle and her equally gluten-averse sister (now that's good genes!) were able to enjoy them. Now that I've recovered from the most wonderful of full belly lazy Sunday afternoon naps, I'm just hoping I can get my hands on that creme brulee French toast recipe.

Danielle was very relieved that these muffins were gluten-free and that she had just gotten a fresh manicure.

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