You know from my last post that the past week has been kinda rough. On Friday my colleagues and I filled box after box, took our children's drawings off of the walls, erased the pictures of them on our desktops. Co-workers from other floors filed in one at a time or in small groups to shake hands, hug us and wish us luck. We had a farewell coffee with pastries and foccaccia. A tear or two was shed. It was tough. The hardest part was saying goodbye to three great girls I have been working with for a long time, some even eight years. In this time they have become good friends, a family away from home. We became mothers together, we literally grew up together and all I can say is that I still miss being with them in the same room every minute of my working day.
When I got home yet another good friend came to bid me farewell. An American expat like myself, our girls were born a few days apart and literally grew up together, going to the same day care, pre-school, kindergarden and elementary school. Needless to say they are best friends and over the years our families bonded. We went on to have two boys and spent many a vacation and week end together. Now she has left too, she lives in a different city and I am happy for her and her new life despite the loss.
But you will agree with me when I say it is cruel to say good bye to four sisters in just a handful of hours.
But then I had a bittersweet phone conversation on Skype and met beautiful little Laura. And the next evening my best friends and husband stepped in at just the right time and organized another, delayed birthday party for me. Just to remind me that I am one lucky girl, with lots of great friends and a job to keep me safe and comfortable.
And so instead of curling into the fetal position and crying myself to sleep like I admit having considered on Friday I decided to celebrate the coming of the fall and Halloween and all that is good in life. Life is full of spice, just like these muffins (that are really cupcakes in disguise, minus the mess because the frosting is on the inside), with a rich and sweet heart.
Make these for your family on Halloween. They are insanely moist with a creamy heart and the lovely crunch of sugar and cinnamon on top.
Adapted from Annie's eats.
Ingredients (for 12 -14 large muffins)
5oz. cream cheese, softened
3 tbsp maple syrup
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup sugar
1 cup pumpkin puree
a little over 1/2 a cup of olive oil (or other vegetable oil)
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 1/2 tbsp flour
1/2-1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tbsp cold unsalted butter cut into pieces
Prepare filling first as it will have to be stored in freezer for up to 2 hrs before baking the muffins. Combine the cream cheese and maple syrup until smooth. Transfer the mixture to a piece of plastic wrap and shape into a log about 1½-inches in diameter. Tightly wrap the plastic wrap around the log and transfer to the freezer until at least slightly firm.
To make the muffins, preheat the oven to 350˚ F/180° C. Grease your muffin pan.
In a medium bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, cloves, salt and baking soda. Mix together the eggs, sugar, pumpkin puree and oil in a separate bowl on medium-low speed until blended. Add in the dry ingredients on low speed just until incorporated. Do not overmix.
For the topping combine the sugar, flour and cinnamon in a small bowl. Add in the butter pieces and cut into the dry ingredients with a pastry blender or two forks until mixture is coarse and crumbly. Transfer to the refrigerator until ready to use.
Fill each muffin well with just enough batter to cover the bottom (otherwise filling will run out from the top). Slice the log of cream cheese filling into 12/14 equal pieces and place a slice of the cream cheese mixture into each muffin well. Divide the remaining batter among the muffins making sure you cover the cream cheese completely. Sprinkle a small amount of the topping mixture over each of the muffins. The streusel topping will not be as crunbly as youexpect it, it will almost melt into the top, which is perfect for less messy eating.