Monday, April 20, 2009

Orange Cream Cheese Muffins (with Pepita Crunch)

This orange cream cheese muffin is absolute muffin perfection. The cream cheese flavour is prominent, and the muffin is so so perfectly dense and deliciously yummy. I'm even going so far as to say it's one of my favourite things I've ever baked. It's like cheesecake meets a perfect moist dense white cake. I wasn't a fan of the pepita crunch though so next time I'll just sprinkle coarse sugar on top instead (or nothing at all). My pepitas were over toasted and had kind of a weird taste that really took away from the muffin. While I've loved almost everything I've made from Great Coffee Cakes, Sticky Buns, Muffins & More, the overly complicated instructions still kind of bother me. But considering how well most things turn out, they must be worth it!

I just got Flo Braker's Baking for All Occasions (and wow are there some exciting interesting things in it! Can't wait to try the recipes.) I was reading about what she considers room temperature butter, and it's quite different from what I've always done. So I'm just curious - what do you use for softened/room temperature butter? How soft do you let it get? I think I let mine soften a bit too much.

If this sounds good, you might also like:
Lemon Cheesecake
Caramel Cake with Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting
Orange Berry Muffins
Lemon Poppyseed Muffins

Orange Cream Cheese Muffins (with Pepita Crunch)
Adapted from Great Coffee Cakes, Sticky Buns, Muffins & More

I halved the recipe. For my halved version I used 150 g of flour, and I used 1 large egg yolk (plus 1 egg) instead of 1/2 an egg yolk (plus 1 egg).

Pepita Crunch
1 large egg white (reserve yolk)
2 tbsp granulated sugar
1/2 cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds)

1/2 small navel orange, cut into 6 to 8 pieces (zest, pith and flesh)
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature, broken into 3 to 4 pieces
2 cups all purpose flour, spooned in and leveled
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, slightly firm
1 cup superfine sugar
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk (reserved from pepita crunch)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 350F.

Make the pepita crunch:
2. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat mat. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg white and 1 tablespoon of the granulated sugar. Add the pumpkin seeds, tossing to coat well with the egg/sugar mixture. Pour into the prepared cookie sheet and spread evenly in a single layer. Sprinkle 1 more tablespoon of the sugar over the pepitas. Bake for 3 to 4 minutes, stir the pepitas with a fork, and bake for another 5 to 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Break up any clusters with your fingertips and set aside.

Make the batter:
3. Increase the oven temperature to 375F. Line fourteen muffin cups with paper or foil cupcake liners. I halved the recipe and it made 5 muffins so if you don't want to take out an additional muffin tray just fill your tray up a bit more.

4. Add the orange pieces to the food processor and process until finely chopped. Measure 1/4 cup pulp and return it to the processor bowl. (Discard any remaining orange.) Add the cream cheese and process in three 10-second intervals, scraping down the side of the bowl after each process. The mixture should retain some orange texture.

5. In a large bowl, thoroughly whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda. Set aside.

6. Cut the butter into 1-inch pieces and place in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until smooth and lightened in color, about 1 minute. Stop the machine and add the cream cheese/orange mixture, then mix on medium speed for 1 minute. Add the superfine sugar in a steady stream, then blend in the eggs, the reserved yolk, and the vanilla.

7. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour mixture in three additions, mixing just until blended after each addition.

Bake the muffins:
8. Portion level scoops of the batter into the prepared pans using a no. 16 ice cream scoop (1/4 cup capacity). Sprinkle the top of each muffin with 1 tablespoon of the pepita crunch. Be sure to use any sugar the remains in the pan.

9. Bake for 22 to 25 minutes, or until the muffins are golden brown and the tops are springy to the touch. To ensure even baking, toward the end of baking time, rotate the pans top to bottom and front to back. Remove from the oven and place on a rack to cool.


Helene said...

Sounds really good. Thanks for reviewing this cookbook. I just ordered a copy from the library. Can't wait to get it.

Pearl said...

those muffins look like cupcakes because they're so cute! hmm pepita crunch sounds like an interesting notion. how did it affect the overall taste/texture of the muffin? glad you had so much fun with it!

jodye said...

Ooh these muffins look delicious! The pepita crunch sounds like a great addition!

Ricki said...

They look phenomenal! Too bad you didn't like the pepitas, since they're so cute. . . but the rest of it would make up for them!

Sara said...

These muffins look INCREDIBLE! Such a yummy combination of flavors. I'll definitely have to give them a try.

Steph said...

Cream cheese always makes everything better! When I first read her recipe for a yellow cake, I was so interested with her process of creaming butter and sugar. I don't think the egg needs to be added by the tablespoon though.. a little too much even for me..haha. I consider room temperature butter still cool to the touch, but leaves an indent when I press it with pressure.

The Food Librarian said...

I love anything with pepitas. And I love orange. And cream cheese. I'm already in love with these! They look perfect. Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

ooooh these sound so good! cheesecake muffins! i've never heard of pepita crunch before, though

Rose&Thorn said...

Beautiful! I would really love one of those now :)

VeggieGirl said...

LOOOOVE pumpkin seeds!!

Grace said...

although i can't give my opinion of the taste (yet), i can say that it certainly looks like the perfect muffin! the seeds on top sound like a wonderful addition--i like a little texture variation in my muffins.

Cathy - wheresmydamnanswer said...

WOW what a wonderful and unique combination - These really look terrific!

Elyse said...

These muffins look so incredible. I'm in the middle of a constitutional law class (ugh), and in the middle, I turned to the two girls sitting next to me and told them how amazing these muffins looked. They totally agreed. Our consensus is that I need to bake them for everyone!! Great job.

Anonymous said...

Well now, the pepitas are totally different!

Erin said...

I've been wanting to make these! They look delicious!

CookiePie said...

Beautiful muffins!! I love the idea of orange and cream cheese together - yum!

To me, room temp butter should be soft enough that if you stick your finger in it, it will indent easily, but not so soft that it feels oily or greasy, if that makes any sense?

Steph said...

Thanks so much for the idea about apples and cinnamon, I'm gonna try that!! Should I use dried or fresh? Should I cook the fresh apples first to release the juices if I use fresh?

Bunny said...

I love anything orange flavo so I know I would love these muffins, the cream cheese in these has to take them over the top! I use to let butter get very soft, almost melting soft but learned that if you can put your finger into it and it leaves a dent than that's soft enough.

Steph said...

Hi again, I wasn't going to ask for the recipe and be annoying, but if you don't mind sending it, that would be great!


Vegetation said...

Oh wow! I most definitely want to make these!!

Lyrically speaking said...

Yes, yes, I am drooling...yummmmy!!