The Season of the Pumpkin
I’ve always enjoyed Hallowe’en, but probably for different reasons than many people. You see, I grew up in the country without many neighbors, so my brothers and I never really trick-or-treated, and trick-or-treaters hardly ever came to our house. But we carved jack-o-lanterns, and since my parents didn’t like to waste anything, they didn’t like to throw away all that fresh pumpkin. We ate pumpkin pie and roasted pumpkin seeds. That was just the start of a whole season of good food that stretched all the way through Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.
Of course, you can do more with pumpkins than just make jack-o-lanterns – and pies. In my new novel THE PUMPKIN MUFFIN MURDER, the fifth book in my Fresh Baked Mystery series, retired teacher and reluctant amateur sleuth Phyllis Newsom makes some delicious pumpkin cheesecake muffins to enter in the Harvest Festival cooking contest. As always in these books, the question is not just whether Phyllis will win the contest . . . but when and how will murder rear its ugly head? The recipe as it appears in the book calls for canned pumpkin, but fresh pumpkin will work just as well. THE PUMPKIN MUFFIN MURDER will be released in just a couple days from Obsidian Books. Happy Hallowe’en, everyone!
Pumpkin Cheesecake MuffinsFilling:
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese softened
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
3 tablespoons chopped pecans
3 tablespoons butter
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups white sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cups canned pumpkin
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease and flour 18 muffin cups, or use paper liners. Fill any unfilled muffin cups in tin with water.
Filling: In a medium bowl, beat softened cream cheese until smooth. Add egg, brown sugar and vanilla. Beat until mixed, then set bowl in freezer to set while mixing other ingredients.
Topping: In a medium bowl, mix flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger and pecans. Add butter and cut it in with a fork until crumbly. Set aside.
Muffin batter: In a large bowl, blend together flour, sugar, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice and salt. Make a well in the center of flour mixture and add eggs, pumpkin, olive oil and vanilla. Beat together until well mixed.
Place pumpkin mixture in muffin cups about 1/2 full. Take the cream cheese mixture out of the freezer then add one tablespoon of the cream cheese mixture right in the middle of the batter in the muffin cups. Having the chilled cream cheese mixture will help you keep the cream cheese from touching the edges. Sprinkle on the streusel topping.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.
Makes 18 muffins
Note: If you have dogs, add a heaping tablespoon of the leftover canned pumpkin to their meal. All of my dogs like pumpkin and it’s a healthy treat.