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Blueberry Cream Cheese Muffins

What’s better than waking up to some warm Blueberry Cream Cheese Muffins?

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I remember waking up as a kid, becoming slowly aware of the aroma of hot fresh baked blueberry muffins wafting into my room. I loved blueberry muffins and I knew that smell anywhere.

I would lie there thinking, “Are those blueberry muffins I smell or am I dreaming?” Then, I would leave my comfy bed with both reluctance and anticipation because I had to confirm that hot muffins were definitely on the horizon.

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I love all muffins, but blueberry might be my favorite. I don’t know if it’s the gorgeous color of the berries and the strong contrast they have to the batter.

Or, it might be how some of them burst into the batter leaving big purple patches while others hold strong and remain whole and juicy. It’s probably how those sweet juicy berries work so well with rich muffin batter. I just love the taste of them!

When working on this recipe, I struggled with how I wanted to approach it. Should I go with the traditional muffin making process and melt the butter?

Or, should I cream it with the sugar to give it more of a cake texture?  Should I take the whole wheat road or stick with all purpose flour? Go basic or add a little surprise inside?

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I decided to bounce some of these ideas off my husband. Let’s just say my timing was off and his head wasn’t in the game. Too many questions, too many options and he was focused on something else. I needed a “win” on the first time out or I wouldn’t have anything to post this week.

I had already made something fab to share, but its visual appeal needed work. Back to the drawing board on that one. Ugh. That wasn’t good news; I had already fallen behind on my schedule because, well, life has been exceedingly challenging for quite a number of weeks.

It’s like summer hasn’t even started yet. But that was then, and this is now. I decided to make Blueberry Cream Cheese Muffins. It’s my declaration that we’re moving forward into the season. Finally!

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Then I thought, let’s make this recipe easy. Forget creaming butter and sugar. You don’t need to bring your mixer out. We’re making muffins, not cake.

Let’s shake it up a bit and add a filling, but let’s not make that filling a whole other recipe. Let’s just fill them with one solitary ingredient that you don’t have to mix up with other stuff. Whether or not life has thrown you some curve balls, it’s summer, right? Time to kick back and relax.

As far as whole wheat is concerned? I have wonderful whole wheat muffins on the site like Dutch Apple Pie Muffins and Whole Wheat Buttermilk Banana Nut Muffins.

I wanted these Blueberry Cream Cheese Muffins to be more like the muffins of my childhood, so I went with all purpose flour. (If you want to go the whole wheat route, I love using whole wheat pastry flour.)

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Two bowls are what you’ll need, one to mix the dry, one to mix the wet. I was inspired by some amazing blueberry muffins a friend had made and used a pinch of cardamom, cinnamon and nutmeg…but just a pinch.

I happen to have some measuring spoons that whimsically detail that measurement and I used them for this, partly because they make me smile and mostly because it was easier to stick a spoon in a jar of spice than to take a pinch with my fingers.

If you feel you need a measurement, I’d say it’s probably 1/16 of a teaspoon. Why just a pinch? Because just this little bit of spice adds something you just can’t put your finger on and it doesn’t hijack the whole flavor of the blueberry muffin.

I didn’t measure the nutmeg. I just grated a little bit into the bowl and called it a pinch. (I wouldn’t go out and buy any new spices just for this recipe, you could omit them and still have a delicious muffin. Though the cardamom is also lovely in Orange Olive Oil Cake.)

Blueberry Cream Cheese Muffins

My friend also uses evaporated milk (not sweetened condensed) in her recipe instead of regular milk. I love the extra richness it adds, so I incorporated that into my recipe as well. Again, this is flexible, use the milk you have on hand if that’s easier.

Changes you make can work, but results will be slightly different…not bad, just different. Do you want to make the exact muffins I made? Get the evaporated milk. Want to make them lighter? Use regular milk or skim milk or almond milk. See how easy?

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Now, about that filling…I toyed with making a cheesecake filling, but then I thought, I’d like to try just a little block of cream cheese.

Making a cheese cake filling would have entailed another bowl and more ingredients. I believed the muffin’s sweetness would be plenty to work with just plain cream cheese. I also didn’t want to worry about how well this batter would contain a cheesecake mixture.

Would it sink to the bottom? I’ve used cheesecake fillings before and depending on the batter, it can sink or even disappear into the mixture. As I mentioned before, I needed to secure a winning post asap so there was no time for multiple tests. Plus, I did say that I wanted to make this easy, so plain cream cheese won in a landslide.

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But, I have to be honest, I wasn’t really confident in how the cream cheese would work either, so I put a half scoop of batter in the cup, cut up some cream cheese into small cubes and pushed them gently into the batter. I covered that up with another half scoop of batter and sprinkled raw sugar generously on top.

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They baked up nice and golden with beautifully domed tops, thanks to a high initial baking temperature. When I broke open a muffin to see how I had fared, I was ecstatic to see a perfectly suspended cream cheese filling. Yay! It worked!

But how did it taste? I quartered one up and called in my taste testers. One bite and I knew that I didn’t need to make these more cakey. I didn’t need to make a separate cheesecake filling. I loved the creamy simplicity of the cheese with the sweet and tender muffin.

Whole wheat? Nope! I didn’t need to change a thing! Yes! These were slam dunk delicious Blueberry Cream Cheese Muffins!

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So, while I didn’t get to wake up to the aroma of someone else making me these wonderful muffins, I also didn’t have to lie in bed this morning wondering if I smelled one of my favorite muffins baking and  jump out of bed to confirm my suspicions. I already knew they were there. The kids were still asleep, so I pulled up the covers and caught another ten or so.

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Win-win :) Let summer BEGIN!

 

Blueberry Cream Cheese Muffins

Servings 12 muffins

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • a pinch each of ground cardamom cinnamon and nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter 1 stick, melted
  • 1/2 cup evaporated milk room temperature (not sweetened condensed)
  • 2 large eggs room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries
  • about 2 ounces of block cream cheese cold
  • raw sugar for sprinkling

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a 12 cup muffin tin with paper liners. Set aside.
  2. Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and spices in a large bowl.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the melted butter, eggs, milk and vanilla until well combined.
  4. Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture and using a rubber spatula, fold and stir until most of the flour has been combined and there is no flour on the bottom of the bowl. You don't want to over mix or you will risk having tough muffins. At the point when you still have some streaks of flour to combine, add your blueberries and fold them gently into the mixture until evenly distributed. Folding the fruit in should finish mixing your batter. There should be no streaks of flour left in your batter.
  5. If using a 1/4 cup muffin scoop, use about half a scoop or 2 Tablespoons to deposit some batter into each cup.
  6. Cut twelve small blocks of cream cheese, about 3/4" square. It doesn't have to be perfectly measured. Just cut some small chunks and press one chunk gently into the batter in each cup.
  7. Distribute the remaining batter evenly amongst the cups covering the chunk of cream cheese.
  8. Sprinkle generously with raw sugar.
  9. Bake at 425 degrees F. for 10 minutes. Then, without opening the oven door, reduce the temperature to 375 degrees F. for another 8-12 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out almost clean or with just a few moist crumbs attached.
  10. Serve warm or at room temperature. Store covered in refrigerator.

Recipe Notes

*It's important that the eggs and milk are at room temperature. You don't want your melted butter to re-solidify when you mix it with these ingredients.

*The evaporated milk adds a lovely richness, but feel free to substitute in your favorite milk.

*I love the hint of spice in this recipe. If you only have cinnamon, use that, but don't add more to make up for missed spices, a pinch is fine unless you want lots of cinnamon flavor.

*I used fresh plump blueberries. If you use frozen, don't defrost first. Add them into the batter while they are still frozen.

*Yes, you may skip the cream cheese and simply have a delicious blueberry muffin!

*I melted my butter in a glass liquid measuring cup. The butter came up to a half cup, when I added my 2 large eggs, it was another half cup. It was easy to just pour my milk into that mixture and bring it all up to 1 1/2 cups. Then I added my vanilla and whisked it all together. This saved me another bowl to wash.

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