Better-than-Starbucks' Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

I've been promising these for a while. And I also promised a food-heavy week on the blog this week.

I keep my promises. I'm sorry the muffins took a while, but I also promise they're worth the wait.

(You'll see that I kept that promise as soon as you make these treats.)

With fall comes the return of Starbucks' pumpkin treats. Pumpkin loaf, pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin cream cheese muffins...yum, yum, yum.

But yuck, in a way, because of a) the price and b) the way I feel after consuming any of these. Lethargic, heavy and with a sugar rush - no fun!Not one to repeat good work, I would direct you to the lovely Averie at Love Veggies and Yoga, who blogged a homemade pumpkin spice latte recipe a little while back (it's low-sugar too; if you use sweetener she suggests some natural sweeteners for you to use).

There. Now that you have your homemade pumpkin latte in hand, come back and get ready to make the perfect treat to accompany it. Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins. Bonus? You can use this recipe to create the Pumpkin Loaf too. Simply spread the batter into a loaf pan instead of muffin tins and don't include the cream cheese filling (or do - a cream cheese-filled loaf sounds delish). Sprinkle with pumpkin seeds and bake. Easy.

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Now that you have a whole pumpkin feast planned out, let's get to it, shall we?

By the way, the recipe for this cream cheese filling was inspired by the lovely Chocolate-Covered Katie's cheesecake mousse recipe, which uses stevia. So...have you entered my stevia giveaway yet? Three more days people!

Better-than-Starbucks' Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

INGREDIENTS (makes 12 muffins):

1 3/4 cups self-raising flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 3/4 cups pureed pumpkin
1 egg
1/3 cup oil
Just over 1/3 cup agave nectar
1/4 cup water

In cream cheese filling:

1/2 cup cream cheese or vegan cream cheese
1/2 cup soft tofu
4 drops NuNaturals vanilla stevia - click here for your chance to win this!

Unsalted pumpkin seeds to garnish

DIRECTIONS:

1. Blend tofu with cream cheese and stevia. Put in fridge for 15-30 minutes to firm a little bit. If you want it to be more like cream cheese consistency, leave it to firm up even longer.

2. Mix dry ingredients in large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, mix wet ingredients.

3. Combine wet ingredients with dry until just mixed (don't over mix!)

4. Spoon mixture into muffin cases.

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5. Scoop a heaped teaspoon to one tablespoon of cream cheese mixture into the case of each muffin batter.

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6. Bake in a preheated oven (at 350 degrees) for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.

7. Sprinkle some pumpkin seeds on top and serve!

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Nutritional information provided per muffin if recipe makes 12:

Nutritional information courtesy of caloriecount.about.com

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