Forbidden Cookbook: Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

Welcome to pumpkin season!

Some years back, Starbucks began carrying these absolutely delicious pumpkin cream cheese muffins during their pumpkin spice latte season. It was kind of hard to get them, frankly, because they usually sold out early in the day.

Well, there’s a whole movement of copycat recipes out there for menu items that are very popular at well-known chains. My cousin once gave me the recipe for Chuy’s creamy jalapeño dip, which was spot on, and I’ve also seen various copycat versions of the brown bread at Outback Steakhouse — although the jury is definitely out on those recipes, which are all quite different and have garnered very mixed reviews on their faithfulness to the original. (And if you have a source for a good one of those, please do share it with me!)

One copycat recipe which is not only authentic to the original but actually, if possible, even yummier, is Starbucks’ pumpkin cream cheese muffins. I wish I could tell you where I found it a number of years ago, but “online somewhere” is about the best I can give you.

And now I’m sharing it with you here. These pictures are from the batch my kid and I made this past weekend, and they were probably the best iterations of these muffins we’ve made to date! So delicious. And it has always, for us at least, been a two-person job. Before you attempt these, read over the recipe carefully for the process. There are a lot of steps. It’s not hard, there’s just a lot going on.

But so worth it!

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

Cream Cheese Mixture:
4 oz cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Candied Pumpkin Seeds:
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup pepitas (raw shelled pumpkin seeds)

Muffin Batter:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup canned pure pumpkin puree
3/4 cup vegetable oil

Cream Cheese: Using an electric mixer combine cream cheese, sugar and vanilla extract until smooth. Cover and chill until firm. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 12-cup muffin pan with paper muffin cups.

Candied Pumpkin Seeds: Spray large baking sheet with cooking spray. Heat seeds in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring frequently, 5 minutes or until the seeds begin to pop. Add sugar, and stir constantly about 1 minute or until sugar begins to liquefy and caramelize; add cinnamon and salt. Spread seeds on prepared baking sheet, and cool. Break apart the seeds that are stuck together, once they have cooled.



Muffin Batter: Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, allspice, and salt in a bowl. Set aside. Using an electric mixer, combine eggs, sugar, and vanilla; mix on low speed just to combine ingredients. Add pumpkin and oil, and continue to mix about 1 minute. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients, and mix until batter is smoother, about 30-60 seconds.


The Final Steps: Spoon batter into paper muffin cups, making batter level with top of the muffin cup. Add approximately 1 tablespoon of cream cheese mixture to the top of each muffin and press cream cheese down into the middle of each muffin cup of batter. Sprinkle muffins with candied pumpkin seeds.

Baking: Bake for 20-25 minutes, until slightly browned on top. (If you’re using a convection oven, go with the lower end of that time range.) To test for doneness insert a toothpick into center of muffin (not cream cheese), will come out clean.

Monday Earworm: Neil Patrick Harris and Felicia Day (DR. HORRIBLE’S SING-ALONG BLOG)

This one is on repeat in my head. It’s also probably the best song in the whole trilogy.

Also, if you haven’t watched Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, please do so. There are three episodes, about fourteen minutes each, and it’s a triumph as well as a cult classic. Joss Whedon and friends came up with it way back during the last really big writers’ strike in Hollywood, and people needed to work. So this was created, and it has endured far better than anything else that came out of that strike, including our collective memories of what all that stuff was about in the first place.

And speaking of writers, you know I am one. I write (among other things) books, and a new one has just come out. Wheee! It’s Homecoming, the second book in the Animal Affinities series (You’re welcome, Finis. fans, and sorry it took so long), and you can get it here, as well as find out about the fabulous launch party — which will be online, so you can attend! There’s also a little giveaway happening on my socials, which you can learn about in my newsletter that just came out this weekend. (Let me know if you want to be on that list, by the way. It’s different from the blog and comes out less often.)

Just A Little Video With Something Nifty And An Invitation

Self-promotion is the least wonderful part of being an author. (Actually, waiting on various aspects of the publishing industry beyond one’s control is the least wonderful part, but self-promotion is a noteworthy second.)

But I made this video, so I hope you’ll watch it and take heed of the excellent developments therein.

And here’s the link you’ll be wanting after you watch it.

Monday Earworm: Vienna Teng

Approximately forever ago, my husband heard a review of Vienna Teng’s album Waking Hour on NPR and thought I might like it. I had been having a stressful time of it at work, and he thought the album would be soothing.

He was so right.

This song is definitely my favorite from the album, and I’ve loved it ever since I first heard it.

Enjoy, and be soothed in whatever stress you’re dealing with tonight.